Royal Rumble Scenarios, Likely WM31 Bouts, Reigns Slams Critics

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Welcome to the WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium Newsletter. This is where you will find all of the big news and Ask WNW segments from the week neatly archived for your viewing pleasure. This week's edition covers news from Saturday, January 17, 2015 to Friday, January 23, 2015 as well as all five Ask WNW segments from the week. Use this newsletter as your own personal tool to catch up on any of the news that you may have missed during the week. Below is a table of contents:

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

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

WWE News

- This week’s episode of WWE Smackdown (1/15/15) garnered an average viewing audience of 2,675,000 viewers on SyFy. That number was up +243,000 viewers from the week prior and is the most-watched episode of Smackdown for the year three weeks in. The story of course is this was Smackdown’s first week back in the 8 PM/7 CT timeslot on Thursday night. Smackdown finished as the #2 Top 25 cable original, behind NBA basketball on TNT.

- WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella didn’t work Sunday’s WWE live event in San Antonio, Texas due to an apparent strained left hamstring.

Below are photos of Nikki’s leg wrapped:

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

Nikki worked without issue at Saturday’s WWE live event in Abilene, Texas.

- WWE SummerSlam 2015 will not take place from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey due to the venue’s closure by the end of the month. Local officials are working to get the show moved to the Prudential Center in Newark.

Below is an excerpt from a weekend article posted by NJ.com:

Far more difficult to resolve will be the Izod Center’s hosting of the WWE’s SummerSlam 2015 in August—a major and lucrative wrestling event that came to the Meadowlands in the wake of the very successful WrestleMania 29 at MetLife Stadium in 2013. Jim Kirkos, CEO of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce told the authority that the nearby Meadowlands Hilton has 1,000 rooms blocked off for the event, and might lose $250,000 in business.

“That was a big one,” conceded Hasenbalg of SummerSlam. “It’s their second-biggest event of the year and I’m working on that to try and get it to Pru.”

World Wrestling Entertainment, in response to the closing of the Izod Center, said in a statement: “WWE is currently looking at alternatives, and we are confident that we will come up with an equivalent, if not better, option.”

CLICK HERE for coverage by NJ.com.

- WWE posted an outstanding video on their YouTube channel honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I fully expect this video to air on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. You can watch at this link.

- WWE announced on Monday the promotion of Lisa Fox Lee to Executive Vice President, Content, reporting directly to Vince McMahon.

Below is the official press release on the newly created position:

STAMFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- WWE (NYSE:WWE) has promoted Lisa Fox Lee to Executive Vice President, Content, reporting directly to WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon.

In this newly created position, Lee will be a key member of the company’s senior management team and oversee the strategic development and distribution of WWE programming and content across all platforms, including TV, WWE Network, WWE.com, WWE App and social media, where WWE has 450 million global fans and followers. In addition, Lee will oversee WWE’s Creative Writing team with all TV creative continuing to run through Vince McMahon and WWE Executive Vice President, Paul Levesque.

Lee is a seasoned television and media executive who has served in various positions during her 19-year career with WWE, including her most recent title as Senior Vice President, Network Programming. She has also held roles in Television Production, Programming, Business Strategy and Sponsorship Sales.

- This week’s episode of After Total Divas features Renee Young, Summer Rae and Lana. You can watch at this link.

- WWE has announced complete details for Wrestlemania Axxess over Wrestlemania 31 weekend. We’ll carry that information below:

Premium VIP sessions:
Thursday, March 26
8:00 PM – WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan
8:00 PM – Roman Reigns

Friday, March 27
6:00 PM – John Cena
8:00 PM – Triple H

Saturday, March 28
10:00 AM – Sting

Sunday, March 29
8:00 AM – WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels

VIP sessions
Thursday, March 26
6:00 PM – WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair

Saturday, March 28
8:00 AM – Daniel Bryan
1:00 PM – Randy Orton
3:00 PM – Bray Wyatt
6:00 PM – Dean Ambrose
8:00 PM – Seth Rollins

Sunday, March 29
10:00 AM – WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart

Dates and Times (All times listed are in Pacific Time)
Thursday, March 26
6:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Friday, March 27
6:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Saturday, March 28
Session 1: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Session 2: 1:00 PM – 5 PM
Session 3: 6:00 PM – 10 PM

Sunday, March 29
8:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Ticket Information
General Admission tickets – $45*
General Admission tickets include:

Autographs and professional photos with WWE Superstars, Divas and Legends
Enjoy viewing matches, Q&As and contests in the Main Ring
VIP tickets – $95*
VIP tickets include:

Autograph and professional photo with a VIP WWE Superstar
Exclusive VIP line at the event entrance
(1) 8x10 glossy photo of the appearing Superstar
Premium VIP tickets – $175*
VIP tickets Include:

Autograph and professional photo with a Premium VIP WWE Superstar
Exclusive VIP line at the event entrance.
(1) 8x10 glossy photo of the appearing Superstar
View the VIP and Premium VIP session schedules
Children 2 years and under - FREE

*Prices are PER SESSION and do not include applicable fees

- Dana Warrior penned a blog after watching the first cut of WWE’s new DVD called Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe.

You can read it from Facebook embedded below:

- Zeb Colter, who was wrote of WWE TV back in December to undergo a legitimate surgery, Tweeted the following:

Speaking of returns, while I don’t have specific dates for any of them, AJ Lee (neck), Sheamus (surgery) and Bo Dallas (foot) are all expected to return to WWE soon. - Divas Champion Nikki Bella and Brie Bella vs. Natalya and Paige has been announced for the WWE Royal Rumble pay-per-view. - Xavier Woods noted on this week's Raw that he's battling an ankle injury as he had left his foot in a boot. - The WWE Royal Rumble Kickoff Show will begin at 7 PM EDT and will air on various platforms including the WWE Network and YouTube. The New Day will face Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, and Adam Rose in a six-man elimination tag team match. Renee Young, Alex Riley, Corey Graves, and Booker T will be on the panel. - Sting made a live appearance at the very end of this week's WWE Raw. The distraction allowed John Cena to pin and beat Seth Rollins, Big Show, and Kane in a handicap match. As the storyline goes, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, and Erick Rowan are "re-hired." This was Sting's first WWE appearance since debuting at Survivor Series in November. - The New Age Outlaws will return to the ring this Sunday at the Royal Rumble to face The Ascension in a tag team match. - WWE formally announced late Monday night that WrestleMania 32 will be held at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on April 3, 2016. Though the formal announcement came today, it should come as no surprise, as Wrestling News World first reported the news in December 2013. A media event will be held at the stadium later today to celebrate the announcement, featuring Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, John Cena & other Superstars & Divas. - 15,519 was the announced attendance from this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw in Dallas, Texas. The show was a legitimate sellout. - Wrestling News World reader sent word that WWE will tape Smackdown from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas on April 7, 2015. The presale password to obtain tickets is Dallas. - There was a feel good story at this week’s show involving Triple H. Apparently, he made a young fan at ringside cry when he put John Cena in a 3-on-1 handicap match against Big Show, Seth Rollins & Kane. Hunter consoled the boy by breaking kayfabe and rubbing his head, below is a photo: Click here to load Photo/Tweet (if not loaded)

- Sting made a surprise appearance to conclude this week’s go-home to Royal Rumble episode of Monday Night Raw. If you don't count the final episode of WCW Monday Nitro on March 26, 2001, this is Sting's first appearance on WWE's flagship show.

You can view photos below:

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- Below is a photo of Sean Waltman, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels and Triple H prior to Raw: Click here to load Photo/Tweet (if not loaded)

- Below are Raw Fallout videos from this week’s show:

The Outlaws are Back - Raw Fallout - January 19, 2015
Don't Cross the Boss - Raw Fallout - January 19, 2015
Cena Rights the Wrong - Raw Fallout - January 19, 2015

- We reported here on Wrestling News World that Sheamus was expected to return to WWE soon. The Celtic Warrior was backstage at Raw in Dallas and updated his status in a backstage interview with Eden.

Below are the highlights:

Sheamus said he’s been doing great and was really concerned when he first got injured. He spent Christmas in Ireland for the first time in six years. Sheamus said the only thing on his mind was returning to America to get back into the ring.

Sheamus said his in-ring return isn’t up to him, it’s up to the doctors and surgeons but there is no definite date for him to return. His injury was pretty serious and he understands the doctor’s prospective and hopes it’s not too much longer.

You can watch the interview at this link.

- The Dallas Morning News has a new article online on AT&T Stadium hosting Wrestlemania 32 in 2016.

While the official announcement was made late Monday night by WWE, as Brooks noted, we reported this in December 2013 here on Wrestling News World.

Hulk Hogan was quoted by The Dallas Morning News, offering this:

“This is a monster, this is our juggernaut, our Super Bowl of wrestling,” said Terry Gene Bollea, 61, a man better known as Hulk Hogan. “WrestleMania is the lifeline to this whole sports entertainment business.”

Charlotte Jones Anderson, the daughter of Jerry Jones and Dallas Cowboys executive, commented:

“When we set out to build the stadium, we were looking at all the really big events, marquee events,” said Anderson, daughter of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. “This was one of them. When you look at an event this size, and when it has an incredible impact … it was certainly one we wanted to do our best to secure.”

Anderson and a team that included representatives from the cities of Arlington and Dallas worked several months to prepare their bid for WrestleMania. They closed the deal with a high-stakes pitch at WWE’s corporate offices in Connecticut.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever walked into a room with Vince McMahon, but it’s certainly an intimidating process,” said Anderson, laughing. “I know everybody thinks Daddy’s intimidating, but that’s because they haven’t met Vince McMahon yet.”

CLICK HERE for coverage on DallasNews.com.

- Bill Goldberg was on SB Nation’s Submission Radio and spoke on a number of topics. Regarding one last run in WWE, he stated:

“Hey, if they want to do business and do it right, I’m more than willing to listen. If they want to continue to do what they’ve done with me in the past. I’d rather dig a ditch.”

- Triple H voices The Hulk in The Marvel Experience, WWE announced on Tuesday.

The attraction is described as the world’s first “hyper-reality” tour and invites visitors to train and join up with heroes like Iron Man, Spider-Man and The Avengers’ green, gamma-irradiated powerhouse across seven colossal domes on a mission to save the planet from the evil organization Hydra.

CLICK HERE for coverage by WWE.com.

Backstage news from Monday Night Raw in Dallas, Texas…

- The opening segment with Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, Seth Rollins, The Authority and John Cena went nearly six minutes over allotted time.

- Tyson Kidd took an inverted elbow to the jaw while on the apron during his match with Cesaro against The New Day. He was icing up backstage.

- WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar did not officially turn babyface, however, the company wanted to see how the crowd would react. This was not just done to sell the triple threat but to gauge interest. As I’ve stated on a number of occasions, the inclusion of Seth Rollins in the title bout [at Royal Rumble] really opens up their options and has made booking Lesnar a lot easier.

- Could Daniel Bryan going under to Bray Wyatt be a sign he’s tabbed to win the Royal Rumble? After all, that is classic WWE booking. While Triple H and Vince McMahon were reported to be in agreement earlier this month on Roman Reigns winning the match, the word out of Raw is that nothing is finalized.

- Vince McMahon is very happy with the way the crowd has responded to Sting, especially given the fact he’s never been featured on WWE television. Sting vs. Triple H is all but official for Wrestlemania 31 and has replaced any plan there was to do a match between Sting and The Undertaker. Hunter made it clear he wanted Sting, the seed was planted at Survivor Series and the next step forward was taken at Raw.

- I continue to hear negative things about The Ascension, even after the segment with the nWo, APA and The New Age Outlaws. WWE is clearly doing all they can to get them over but interest in them as heels continues to be tepid at best. Apathetic at worst.

- Daniel Bryan did not re-injured his arm at Raw, in fact a lot of people felt he looked very sharp. However, Bryan’s arm is not 100%.

- History was made on Monday, January 19, 2015 as Sting made his debut on WWE Monday Night Raw. WWE posted video highlights at this link.

- Jerry Lawler was “back in the saddle” for commentary on last week’s episode of WWE Smackdown, after missing a week due to being hospitalized for complications from diverticulitis over New Years. On Tuesday, he commented on his Smackdown debut:

Click here to load Photo/Tweet (if not loaded)

- Get ready for the 30-man Royal Rumble match with this video package. - WWE has officially announced that Wrestlemania 32 will emanate from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sunday, April 3, 2016. On Tuesday, they held a media event to hype the show. Below are video highlights from the event: WWE Network breaks the news on WrestleMania 32 locationJohn Cena speaks at WrestleMania 32 press conferenceHulk Hogan announces AT&T Stadium as the home of WrestleMania 32Stephanie McMahon discusses the reach of WrestleManiaVince McMahon looks forward to WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Stadium Below is the official press release:

ARLINGTON, TX – JANUARY 20, 2015 – Arlington Mayor Robert N. Cluck, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, the City of Arlington, the City of Dallas, The Dallas Cowboys, the Stadium Events Organizing Committee and WWE® are proud to announce that AT&T Stadium will host WWE’s pop-culture extravaganza, WrestleMania 32, on Sunday April 3, 2016. The historic announcement was made at a press conference held at AT&T Stadium. Mayor Cluck, Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer Charlotte Jones Anderson and three-time Dallas Cowboys All-Pro Ed “Too Tall” Jones joined WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon, WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon and WWE Executive Vice President of Special Events John P. Saboor in making the announcement. WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan™, WWE Superstars John Cena®, Big Show®, Mark Henry®, WWE Divas Brie Bella™, Nikki Bella™, Natalya™ and Alicia Fox™ also made special guest appearances at the event. “On behalf of the city of Arlington, we thank WWE for choosing AT&T Stadium to host their biggest event of 2016,” said Arlington Mayor Robert N. Cluck, M.D. “We look forward to fans from around the world converging on our beautiful city for WrestleMania Week.” “The city of Dallas is proud to team with Arlington to bring WrestleMania 32 to AT&T Stadium,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. “The week-long series of events will provide an economic boost to our region, while giving visitors a chance to experience all the great things Dallas has to offer.” ​“On behalf of the entire Dallas Cowboys organization, we’re excited to welcome WrestleMania 32 and fans from around the globe to AT&T Stadium,” said Charlotte Jones Anderson, Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer of the Dallas Cowboys. “An iconic entertainment extravaganza like WrestleMania and its fans deserve a world-class venue like AT&T Stadium that will redefine the WrestleMania experience and set a new precedent for future events.” “WWE thanks the city of Arlington, city of Dallas and the Dallas Cowboys for their tireless efforts to bring WrestleMania to AT&T Stadium,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO. “We look forward to making history at WrestleMania, while adding AT&T Stadium to the list of iconic venues that have hosted our annual pop-culture extravaganza.” WrestleMania is more than just a one-day event; it’s a week-long celebration that will stretch throughout the Dallas/Arlington region. In addition to WrestleMania 32, other activities will include: WrestleMania Axxess – WWE’s four-day interactive fan festival at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas; the 2016 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at American Airlines Center; Monday Night Raw® at American Airlines Center; Be a STAR™ anti-bullying rallies; hospital visits and other community outreach initiatives designed to give back to the host community. The event will be broadcast live on WWE Network and pay-per-view in more than 170 countries. Last year, WrestleMania 30 at Mercedes-Benz Superdome generated more than $142 million in economic impact for the New Orleans region. This year, WrestleMania 31 takes place Sunday, March 29 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.

CLICK HERE for coverage by WWE.com. - Former WWE wrestlers Vito LoGrasso and Evan Singleton (who worked in developmental as Adam Mercer) have filed a potential class-action lawsuit against the company. The suit, filed in federal court in Philadelphia, states as follows:

"Under the guise of providing entertainment, the WWE has, for decades, subjected its wrestlers to extreme physical brutality that it knew, or should have known, caused created latent conditions and long-term irreversible bodily damage, including brain damage,"

It’s stated that Singleton is disabled because of brain trauma he suffered while wrestling. The lawsuit states that Vito suffers from migraines, memory loss, depression and deafness after nearly a decade with WWE. The lawsuit alleges that WWE is downplaying the seriousness of the head injuries and is discouraging Singleton from seeing a neurologist. The suit seeks unspecified economic damages and medical monitoring. The Associated Press, who contributed to this report, have more details here on ESPN.com. - WWE announced on Tuesday the WWE Network is now available online. Below is their official announcement:

WWE fans in Canada can now enjoy WWE Network's 24/7 programming, all 12 live pay-per-view events — including Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series — and hours upon hours of on-demand content on their desktop and laptop computers. Sign up now at WWE.com/canada to watch online, as well as on Rogers Cable and Eastlink on your TV.

CLICK HERE for coverage by WWE.com. - The show that replaced WWE Smackdown in the 9-10 PM EST timeslot on Friday nights on SyFy — 12 Monkeys — did an average viewing audience of 1,352,000 viewers last week. This of course is way down from what Smackdown did in the timeslot. TV by the Numbers has data for the top 100 cable shows among adults 25-54 for all of Friday at this link. If you’re still looking for Impact viewership, we have it online at this link. Bellator 132 over on Spike TV did an average viewing audience of 767,000 viewers. - The Road to Wrestlemania 31 begins in just over one week with the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Obviously all eyes will be on the show as we should get a clear picture of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WWE’s pay-per-view of the year. I’ve mentioned on a number of occasions that WWE has left their options open by inserting Seth Rollins into John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar but it’s the 30-man Royal Rumble match itself I went to focus in on. To date, 10 participants have been announced for the match. They are as follows: Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, Rusev, Bray Wyatt, Bad News Barrett, Dean Ambrose, Goldust, Stardust, Big Show and Kane. We reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium on January 6, 2015 that Triple H and Vince McMahon were in agreement on Reigns winning the Royal Rumble match. Below is an excerpt from that exclusive report:

The biggest note is that sources have told us that Vince and Hunter are in agreement on Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble match and going on to challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 31. The current plan is for Reigns to be WWE World Heavyweight Champion after Wrestlemania 31 in March. Some within the company expect Daniel Bryan to outshine Reigns and be the guy fans end up wanting in that spot. It will be interesting to see how WWE features Bryan in the next few months as there is concern his popularity could hurt Reigns’ ability to fill the top babyface role.

The quandary is clear. Reigns has been chosen but Daniel Bryan looms. Multiple signs point to Reigns challenging Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 31. But remember, it’s not even confirmed that Lesnar will be WWE World Heavyweight Champion in March. With him possibly leaving WWE after Wrestlemania (he hasn't signed a contract extension at press time), the company must at least consider Lesnar dropping the belt at Royal Rumble. Regardless, Reigns has been tabbed as “the chosen one” and promotional material reflects that: Click here to load (if not loaded)

This leads me to my picks to win the 30-man Royal Rumble match by scenario. The expected scenario… If there is any doubt on Roman Reigns following up on his performance from last year, where he was scripted to eliminate 12 participants (breaking Kane’s record of 11 in 2001), he’s clearly listed as the favorite going in to this year’s match. The elevation of Reigns isn’t something that happened overnight. Reigns was tabbed early on for big things, specifically when Triple H vetoed a pitch made by CM Punk for Kassius Ohno to be a member of The Shield faction in 2012 to include the former college football standout. Reigns, who never really impressed in NXT, joined Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose and saved his best work for the main roster. I remember speaking with sources after Reigns debuted and was told his work on the main roster was far superior to anything he ever did in developmental. The story here is clear in that Reigns will do what John Cena couldn’t and win the title from The Beast that ended in the streak. The thinking is, Reigns will take the burning torch and carry WWE for years to come as their new top talent. With that, he’s our favorite to win the 2015 Royal Rumble. The fan favorite scenario… As we mentioned in our Premium report in early January, Daniel Bryan’s return creates an opportunity and with that opportunity comes an issue. Will Bryan’s undeniable popularity force WWE’s hand? After missing 8 months with what he thought could be a career-ending injury, Daniel Bryan has returned and he’s over like rover. In fact, sources indicate that Vince McMahon is “shocked” that Bryan hasn’t missed a beat. Below is an excerpt from last week's Backstage Raw News:

Vince McMahon is said to be “completely sold” on Daniel Bryan and was “shocked” that he’s been able to maintain his strong babyface crowd reactions, even after missing so much time. While one observer noted he might not be considered the face of the company, Vince remains impressed.

In storyline, Bryan will face Kane this week on Smackdown in a rematch. If he loses, he loses his Rumble spot. WWE has picked back up on The Authority "holding Bryan down," giving them heat and keeping the leader of the Yes Movement as the company’s most over babyface. There is little doubt that Bryan is more of a babyface than Roman Reigns but will it be enough for WWE to alter the master plan involving their chosen one? Will WWE correct their error from last year — when Daniel Bryan wasn’t even in the Royal Rumble — and have him win it? Bryan has been very clear - the match he wants is one against Brock Lesnar. Technically, he never lost the WWE World Heavyweight Championship after vacating it due to injury. The story of Bryan vs. Brock at Wrestlemania is one of total redemption and gives Bryan his second "Wrestlemania moment" in as many years. Daniel Bryan is our fan favorite to win the 2015 Royal Rumble. The surprise scenario…Randy Orton was written off TV via a Curb Stomp from Seth Rollins in early November 2014 to film the starring role in The Condemned 2. He returned at holiday live events in late December but has been held off TV due to a reported deviated septum. The plan is apparently for him to return as a babyface. Could WWE hold him off TV and re-debut him as a surprise Royal Rumble entrant and put him over? Nothing would propel Orton back to a top spot like his second Royal Rumble win (he won Royal Rumble 2009). This scenario would also be effective if Seth Rollins went in to Wrestlemania 31 as WWE World Heavyweight Champion as WWE would be able to pick up on their program, with the stakes clearly being raised for the title. This scenario does carry a large degree of risk, as the wrestling savvy crowd in Philadelphia could turn on Orton like they turned on Batista and backfire big time. However, Orton’s multiple month absence from WWE television leaves him as a surprise option. For these reasons, Randy Orton is our surprise to win the 2015 Royal Rumble. The swerve scenario… What would any “big four” WWE pay-per-view event be without a swerve scenario? This year WWE has plenty of options for a dark horse to win the Royal Rumble. The three “fired” workers that comprised Team Cena at Survivor Series but were “put in their place” by The Authority loom as possible surprise entrants and have arguments for victory. Those workers - Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and Erick Rowan - are all in the midst of at least upper mid-card elevations. Ziggler would have the best chance of “popping" the Philly crowd due to wrestling savvy fans clamoring for more from him for years. Ryback has found traction in the gimmick that should have been given to him when he was first elevated a few years back. Rowan still feels a bit out of place and probably has the lowest chance of anyone listed. Then there’s Sheamus. Sheamus was originally scripted to be a member of Team Cena at Survivor Series but an injury wrote him off TV. He’s another former Royal Rumble winner (he won in 2012) that has to be considered. Credible arguments could be made for Rusev or Bray Wyatt or most certainly Dean Ambrose. WWE has a myriad of options for their swerve scenario that should keep the intrigue of this year’s Royal Rumble match very high. Obviously, as is the case with the surprise scenario, a swerve risks the crowd turning. Last year, the crowd turned on Batista in a big way and WWE ruined one of their biggest pay-per-views of the year by refusing to listen to their audience. There is no way WWE wants to go down that road again and for that reason, we’re labeling a swerve scenario as unlikely. All and all, our favorites to win the Royal Rumble match are Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton (in that order). The three “fired” workers must be considered as threats to win as do the likes of Sheamus, Rusev, Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt. The good thing is WWE has left their options open and there is no sure thing this year. Whoever goes over will obviously go a long way in shaping the card for this year’s Wrestlemania 31 pay-per-view and will face enormous pressure in helping “carry the torch” into the next era. - A casting call has been issued for the return of WWE Tough Enough on the USA Network. You can read it below:

WWE and the USA Network are bringing back the hit reality competition show Tough Enough! One competitor will earn a WWE contract and be the next WWE Superstar!!! If you believe you have what it takes to not only earn the contract, but excel in World Wrestling Entertainment… Apply now. Casting Producers are searching the world to find extraordinary men and women to be the next WWE Superstar with the following qualities: CHARISMA PERSONALITY ATHLETICISM AGILITY STAMINA STRENGTH And an INTENSE DESIRE to be the next WWE SUPERSTAR! Show Information: WWE Tough Enough, is a professional wrestling reality television program produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and MTV wherein participants underwent professional wrestling training and competed for a contract with WWE. There were two winners per season for the first three seasons, all of which aired on MTV. A fourth competition was held in 2004, with only a single winner, but was integrated into UPN’s SmackDown!. In October 2010, it was announced that The USA Network will be reviving Tough Enough for a fifth season. It will be paired with WWE Raw. No premiere date scheduled.

- Could you see a scenario where Sting returns as a semi-regular and helped mentor Dolph Ziggler? Anything is possible but I don’t see a recurring role for Sting on WWE television. Sting is at the end of the rope and it’s now or never. He wanted a Wrestelmania match against The Undertaker but as we confirmed in our Backstage Raw News, his scheduled match at Wrestlemania 31 is one against Triple H. Internally, we're told Hunter made it clear he wanted a match against Sting, regardless of The Undertaker’s status. Knowing this, we’re not ruling Undertaker out for Wrestlemania yet and we should be able to confirm him in or out shortly after Sunday’s pay-per-view. Back to the question, I like the idea of veterans mentoring young talent but I don’t see that role as one for Sting. I believe he should work this program at Wrestlemania and only be used in certain situations. Since Vince McMahon’s opinion is one that matters the most behind the scenes, is he happy with Brock Lesnar’s reign as WWE World Heavyweight Championship? While I won’t even attempt to dissect the thinking of Vince McMahon (I just report what people tell me), we can only assume that Vince approves of Brock Lesnar’s reign as WWE World Heavyweight Champion. If he didn’t, he’s had multiple opportunities to end it. I pushed the idea that Seth Rollins should have successfully “cashed in” at Night of Champions back in September. It would have given Rollins a chance to reach for the brass ring and it would have prevented WWE from having an absent WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Obviously that’s not what has happened and I believe it has damaged the entertainment value of WWE’s product. However, all is well heading into Royal Rumble as Brock Lesnar is back and the company has multiple options for the Road to Wrestlemania 31. Is WWE just flat out trying to sabotage The Ascension? It feels like a lazy, forced gimmick made worse when they get on the mic. Has there been any thought on giving them an established manager to act as a mouthpiece? I push back on any claim that WWE would intentionally sabotage a gimmick. I don’t think the claims are “completely out of left field,” I just like to think better of WWE management. It’s clear The Ascension hasn’t gotten over and I blame there being no long-term plan for success. It’s unfathomable to me The Ascension have been on the short-list for a call-up for months before it happened and this is the best thing WWE could come up with. I agree it feels lazy and forced and it’s further proof that just because someone has success in NXT doesn’t mean that success will seamlessly translate to the main roster.r Why did the WWE's version of ECW suffer such a slow and painful death? It started off as a higher-budget version of the original, only to end up so far away from the original concept and ultimately cancelled. I thought the first ever episode of ECW on Sci-FI (the original network spelling) that aired on June 13, 2006 proved that WWE and Vince McMahon had no idea how to handle the return of ECW. Remember that show featured the vampire and other “sci-fi” elements. ECW was successful because it was comprised of individuals that were willing to push the envelope and work a hardcore style for a more mature audience. Trying to implement this style in the mainstream/corporate environment in WWE just didn’t work. Vince didn’t have the ECW vision that Paul Heyman had and I understand both sides of the argument. But ECW slowly turned into WWE’s C brand and as a result, fans of the original ECW rejected it. Mainstream WWE fans saw it as option three, so it was later replaced by a series called WWE NXT (obviously different from NXT today). Some of the ECW “One Night Stand” pay-per-view that WWE did were well done but other than that, I just don’t think Vince ever truly understood why people liked ECW. From the Ask WNW vault…January 2013: Why was the Royal Rumble match changed back to 30-men from the 40 it was a couple year ago? - From what I was able to ascertain, Pat Patterson, the creator of the Royal Rumble match and the guy that books it annually, was upset about taking the match from 30 to 40 men in 2011. He felt the match has been so effective and timeless, it shouldn’t be altered in any way. When it was explained to him they would be able to promote it as the “biggest Royal Rumble ever,” he wasn’t sold. Triple H, who is taking on more and more behind-the-scenes responsibilities, was instrumental in working with Patterson to book this year’s match. - Booker T Tweeted that he’ll have an exclusive interview with Shawn Michaels on the Royal Rumble Kickoff pre-show. You can read his Tweet below: Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

Also set for Royal Rumble Kickoff is The New Day vs. Cesaro, Tyson Kidd & Adam Rose. The show will air on Sunday at 7 PM EST and we’ll have the video feed and complete coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.

- AJ Lee was asked on Twitter if she is 100% and she responded by Tweeting back, “nope.”

Below is that conversation:

Click here to load Tweets (if not loaded)

Despite that, AJ is still advertised locally for Saturday’s WWE live event in East Rutherford, New Jersey. This will be WWE’s final show at the IZOD Center, as the venue is closing. AJ has been out nursing a neck injury. - Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Snowden has a fantastic piece online titled, “Inside WWE: An Exclusive Look at How a Pro Wrestling Story Comes to Life.” The article details the WWE creative process and examines the story of Daniel Bryan with firsthand quotes from Bryan himself, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. The article is detailed and well worth going out of your way to read. You can check it out at this link. I’ve picked out some highlights that I wanted to include below. Bryan on working with Triple H and cutting out the road agent (or producer as WWE calls them, who serve as a liaison between talent and the creative team):

“When I'm working with Triple H, it's easy," Bryan said. "I just tell Triple H what I think. He's very smart as far as what works. If he's bringing you something, it's usually a pretty good idea. "He's got years of experience working with these top-level, high-level storylines. My brain doesn't work like that. I was on the independent scene so long, I think in terms of matches. 'Oh, this would be a great concept for a match or this would be a great story within the context of a match.' ... And sometimes we might not necessarily agree, and we'd go and talk to Vince.”

Triple H on the Raw script not finalized until it’s live and changing even then:

“We're tweaking that thing until it's out the door," Triple H said. "It's not done until it's live. And even then, it's living and changing. [John] Cena can go out for segment one, come back and say, 'I'm not feeling this for later.' And he's right. "The hardcore fans cringe when we say this. But the reality of it is, the story is the magic...and the truth is, though all of our storylines have to end up back in the ring and the wrestling part has to deliver to the point fans say, 'That was awesome, what a payoff,' we're not boxing. ... It's about characters and their relationship. That's a storyline. We are more like the Rocky movie than we are like a sport. The storylines are what's important.”

Vince McMahon having the final say:

"The final call is Vince," Triple H said. "He gets all these suggestions and ideas, and he weighs in on them. It's a collaborative effort, but there's one general. And that guy makes the final call. There's never an open-ended debate between four people about what should happen on the shows. ... At some point it gets to Vince, and Vince goes, 'Here's what we're going to do.' And that's what we go do.”

Stephanie McMahon on the WWE audience getting behind Daniel Bryan

"Our fans do have a powerful voice. They do influence our decision-making and our storytelling," Vince's daughter and WWE Chief Brand Officer, Stephanie McMahon, said. "When our fans got behind Daniel Bryan in the beginning...that absolutely was a key indicator to us that Daniel Bryan was an A-plus player, not just in our minds, but in our fans' minds. "He was absolutely a talented in-ring performer. That anyone could see. The fact that our fans were connecting with him on an even more emotional level—and then when we started telling the story the way they got behind him, we just knew that he was the right guy.”

Daniel Bryan continually getting beaten down on WWE programming:

"I thought, 'If I'm going to be beat up, I need to be really, really beat up.'" Bryan said. "I thought it was important to get what we call heavy heat on me in all of those segments. To get that sympathetic response.”

How last year’s Royal Rumble match changed everything for Bryan when the audience rejected Batista winning:

"I think the moment that really changed the tide for me was something I actually had nothing to do with. And that was the Royal Rumble match. It was not being in it, and the fans being really upset that I wasn't in it, that changed the course of my trajectory for WrestleMania," Bryan said. "To me, that was the moment. It's funny, and maybe fitting with my personality, that in my big moment I wasn't even there.”

The internal debate about doing Triple H vs. CM Punk or Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H at Wrestlemania 30, something we covered extensively at the time.

"Triple H was trying to make it me and him at WrestleMania," Bryan said. "It was originally on the schedule as him versus CM Punk, but Triple H thought that after the story we had over the summer, it would make so much more sense for us to continue that story.”

Stephanie McMahon on the story’s conclusion with Daniel Bryan winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 30:

"It was all very crafted, and it was an incredible story that took us on quite a ride," Stephanie said. "We're really proud of Daniel, and we're proud of the story we were able to tell.”

CLICK HERE to read the piece in its entirety on BleacherReport.com. - This week’s episode of Total Divas (1/18/15) garnered an average viewing audience of 1,253,000 viewers on E. This was down (-42,000 viewers) from the week prior. TV by the Numbers has data for the top 100 cable shows among adults 25-54 for Sunday at this link. - Triple H returns for this week's kayfabe weekly sit-down interview with Michael Cole. In it, Hunter said that Sting is starting to be a problem for him. He said the first time he kind of let it go and said Sting was just trying to make a name for himself. Now, this time is on him. Triple H said if Sting is trying to make a name for himself by coming at him, it's going to be the last thing he ever does. Triple H said maybe Sting is coming to the top of the pile to make himself relevant. If he does it again, it'll be the last thing he ever does. Cole talked about Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan and Ryback returning to Smackdown this Thursday. Hunter talked about keeping his promise if John Cena won [on Raw] and John Cena won. As a result, they'll be back. Regarding WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, Cole said he absolutely exploded at the end of Raw. Hunter said he seemed nervous and Brock Lesnar isn't someone that fights for free. Triple H said he's never seen Brock like that and something has gotten under his skin. He doesn't think it's John Cena, Brock has handled that. It's the future Seth Rollins. Hunter said dinosaurs went extinct because faster, quicker, smarter and eventually they weren't the top of the food chain and then they were gone. Evolution - adapt or perish. Triple H said the Royal Rumble match puts you on the path of destiny and it doesn't get any bigger than that. You're guaranteed the moment, all you have to do is deliver. He said it could mean more than you ever thought it could. Cole asked who Triple H believes is going to win the Royal Rumble match on Sunday. Triple H said you can't really tell and you never know until the very end. Hunter stressed every man for himself and that he wouldn't even want to guess. Triple H said he has seen the future and it's bright indeed. You can watch this week's interview at this link. - We’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks discussing scenarios for Wrestlemania 31 and examining the arguments for winners of the 2015 Royal Rumble. In fact, there is no way to consider the Royal Rumble without considering what it will mean for Wrestlemania. In an article first published on Sunday and re-posted on Wednesday here on Wrestling News World, I explained how Roman Reigns was the undisputed favorite to win the match. Not only have Vince McMahon and Triple Hreportedly agreed on Reigns as the winner but the company has been grooming him for a top spot for over a year. In last year’s Royal Rumble match, Reigns broke Kane’s record of eliminations (11) set in 2001 with 12. While doing an interview with Bleacher Report, I was asked who I feel would have the most eliminations this year. Would it be Reigns or would it be someone else? I answered that I believe Roman Reigns has the most eliminations this year. Why? Because if WWE is going to build Reigns to be the guy to face Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania, they’re going to have to do everything they can to make him as strong as possible. After all, assuming that Lesnar retains the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Royal Rumble and defends it at Wrestlemania 31, he’ll defend it after ending The Undertaker’s streak and taking down the face of the company in John Cena. One of the things that soured me on the idea of Reigns winning the Royal Rumble was the fact Lesnar has not regularly defended the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Would you believe me if I told you that Lesnar has only one win since beating Undertaker at Wrestlemania? That one win came at SummerSlam when he destroyed Cena to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The rematch the following month at Night of Champions ended in disqualification, where Cena was technically declared the winner. That means Brock has no successful defenses to his name (which is another reason why I see him coming out of Royal Rumble with the title, but that’s another article). To effectively promote a Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestlemania 31, the company must book Reigns as strong as possible in the 30-man Royal Rumble. The only way he can become stronger than 12 eliminations is to win it but I don’t think Reigns needs to “just win.” He needs to earn it. Last year, the fans completely rejected Batista entering at 28 and going on to win the match after 12:52 of ring time. While Batista had more eliminations (4) than both CM Punk (3) and Seth Rollins (3), who were in the match for nearly 50 minutes, his performance convinced no one and only fueled the angry crowd about the exclusion of Daniel Bryan. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fine line between “earning it” and “looking invincible.” The latter would likely result in the wrestling-savvy crowd in Philadelphia rejecting a Reigns win just as much as they would a late entry and minimal match time. If WWE is intent on putting Roman Reigns over in the 30-man Royal Rumble match, the story that has to be told is that he “earned it.” As long as WWE does that, I do not believe they’ll lose the crowd like they did last year. I understand Daniel Bryan is going to be the fan favorite and his story of total redemption is actually one I prefer, but if Reigns is the guy, he’s going to have to have to earn it. That doesn't mean he's going to break the eliminations record, but he needs plenty of them and in-ring time to prove he belongs across the ring from "The Beast" that is Brock Lesnar. - This week’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw -- subtitled Raw Reunion -- garnered an average viewing audience of 4,100,333 viewers on the USA Network. Below is how the show did each hour: Hour one - 4,292,000 viewers Hour two - 4,135,000 viewers Hour three - 3,874,000 viewers The show - featuring all hands on deck — was the highest rated program on cable with a 1.5 adults 18-49 rating. TV by the Numbers has data for the top 100 cable shows in adults 18-49 for all of Monday at this link. - Official details are in for WWE NXT TakeOver on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT. The following matches have been announced for the show: Non-Title Match NXT Champion Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens NXT Women's Championship Fatal 4-Way Match Charlotte (c) vs. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch CLICK HERE for coverage by WWE.com. If you need to catch up on material that has been taped for NXT that will air on the WWE Network prior to the special, CLICK HERE. - Randy Orton is officially advertised for Sunday’s WWE Royal Rumble pay-per-view in Philadelphia, PA. Orton was written off WWE television in early November to film the starring role in the WWE Studios production The Condemned 2. He returned on WWE’s holiday live event loop beginning on December 26, 2014 in New York City but had his return to TV delayed due to a reported deviated septum. WWE has two options to bring Orton back as a top babyface (which is the plan). The first option is to bring him back in the 30-man Royal Rumble match, making him a dark horse to win it as a surprise entrant. The second option is to bring him back in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match to continue his program with Seth Rollins. It was Rollins that wrote Orton off TV with the Curb Stomp and they’re rumored to have a match at Wrestlemania 31. - WWE posted unseen footage of Sting’s arrival and Brock Lesnar beatdown on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. You can watch at this link. - WWE has received a ton of mainstream press for the concussion lawsuit filed against them by Vito Lograsso and Evan Singleton. They have issued the following statement, as noted in coverage by Philly.com:

“WWE has never concealed any medical information related to concussions, or otherwise, from our talent," said Jerry McDevitt, who represents the organization. "WWE was well ahead of sports organizations in implementing concussion management procedures and policies as a precautionary measure as the science and research on this issue emerged.”

- Kevin Owens did an interview with Journey of a Frontman. You can read it at this link. - Mister Saint Laurent passed this along:

Former WCW wrestler and booker Kevin Sullivan appeared last night on "The Legend of Mick Dodge," a reality series that airs on National Geographic Channel. Mick Dodge, who lives off the land roaming through the forests of Washington state, was in need of parts for a friend's truck and paid a visit to Kevin Sullivan, who operates the 'Pawn Shop of the forest.' Sullivan appears throughout the episode, titled 'A Dollar Short,' and replays are scheduled throughout the month. Check out Kevin Sullivan's podcast every Friday at: www.MLWVIP.com REPLAY SCHEDULE FOR THE 'A DOLLAR SHORT' EPISODE OF THE LEGEND OF MICK DODGE ON NATGEO: JAN 22 @ 10PM JAN 23 @ 12AM JAN 27 @ 5PM JAN 27 @ 8PM JAN 28 @ 1AM JAN 29 @ 6PM JAN 29 @ 9PM

- WWE talent discuss cheat meals in the latest WWE Inbox. Click here to watch. - Digital Spy has a complete review of the WWE Network now that it has launched in the United Kingdom. You can read it at this link. - Vince McMahon is keeping the match finishes to Sunday’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view close to his vest and could still be flip flopping. Sources continue to indicate that Roman Reigns is the favorite to win the Rumble match but an internal push for Daniel Bryan remains. The plan for months has been to do Brock Lesnar vs. Reigns at Wrestlemania 31 for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, however, the babyface tease of Lesnar on Monday was very interesting. As we reported here at Wrestling News World, Brock didn’t completely turn but the company was “testing the waters” to see how the crowd would react. If they go with Seth Rollins as champion, a triple-threat for the title [at Wrestlemania] with all three former members of The Shield has been discussed. One source mentioned if they went this route, someone would have to realize Dean Ambrose has only one pay-per-view victory (at WWE Payback in June) since the faction split. - Bleacher Report had me on for a Team Stream Now interview to help preview Sunday's Royal Rumble pay-per-view. You can watch the preview in the video embedded below: Below is the advertised lineup for the pay-per-view: Triple Threat Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship - Brock Lesnar (c) vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins 30-man Royal Rumble MatchWinner receives a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 31WWE Tag Team Championship Match - The Usos (c) vs. The Miz & Damien Mizodw Divas Tag Team Match - The Bella Twins vs. Paige & Natalya Tag Team Match - The New Age Outlaws vs. The Ascension Kickoff Match - Adam Rose, Cesaro & Tyson Kidd vs. The New Day - Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Bad News Barrett, Rusev, Bray Wyatt and Brock Lesnar are among names picked to win the 30-man Royal Rumble match on Sunday by the editorial staff of WWE.com. For those wondering who picked Lesnar... Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

You can read the piece at this link.

- Cameron is worried about Eva Marie’s health in this Total Divas preview clip.

- TiqIQ.com has updated their WWE ticket coverage and are following events on The Road to Wrestlemania 31. Remember, it was TiqIQ that noted that tickets for Royal Rumble this year were the most expensive on the secondary market since they began tracking WWE shows in 2010.

Tickets for the inaugural WWE Fast Lane pay-per-view are currently averaging $104.78 on the secondary market, which is slightly below last year’s Elimination Chamber.

WWE had hoped adding Hulk Hogan to the February 27, 2015 live event from Madison Square Garden in New York City would boost ticket sales. According to the publication, it has had the opposite effect and ticket prices have dropped considerably. As of Wednesday, January 21, 2015, there were 4,000 tickets remaining

Tickets to the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony are trending at the highest price levels since at least 2010 at an average asking price of $165.18.

Wrestlemania 31 is currently the third most expensive Wrestlemania the service has tracked. The average ticket price is $337.54, behind Wrestlemania XXVII in 2011 ($339.56) and 15% below Wrestlemania XXIX at MetLife Stadium ($396.75).

CLICK HERE for complete data by TiqIQ.com.

- Crave Online has a new piece available featuring quotes from Roman Reigns to promote this year’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view. In it, he was asked if he paid attention to what fans or critics say.

Below was his response:

Yeah, I think its hard not to pay attention these days with all of the social media networks and all of the different outlets. It’s so easy to connect with fans nowadays. You know, I have a Twitter and things like that. I’m not a crazy Twitter guy to where I’m tweeting out stuff every day and rarely even once a week, do I tweet. But I mean, occasionally, I read some stuff.

The funny part is, you have a guy like me who is kind of getting like a mixed vibe from time-to-time. I get a lot of love and then you’ll get the hate in the middle of it but its just funny, the perspectives you know, the differences between the love and the hate. As far as the hate, it makes me laugh. Everybody is a critic. Every critic I’ve ever had, they weren’t wrestlers [laughs]. Every wrestler I’ve ever had critique me, they were always into my stuff or what I’m doing out there. For a non-wrestler, someone who doesn’t even know how to lock up, and if we did lock up, they wouldn’t know what to do, for them to critique any of us, it really does pop me.

The interviewer stated they would think “those types of people would be pissed off no matter what,” in which Reigns stated:

That’s what haters do. They hate because they hate their lives.

CLICK HERE to read the piece in its entirety, where Reigns briefly comments on married life, talks about last year’s Rumble, returning from injury and more.

Richard Reacts: As I stated in Thursday’s Ask WNW, I don’t understand the amount of heat Reigns is getting for being the favorite to win the Royal Rumble. He’s had some bad promos and people will debate if “he’s ready” until the end of time but WWE desperately needs to create a new top star. Reigns has as much potential as anyone on the roster and has been a work in progress for over a year (Vince McMahon and Triple H have meticulously managed him for as long as he's been on the main roster). I believe winning the Rumble is the logical next step and there are only two things that have caused me to back off that over this past year.

The first is I felt Brock Lesnar should have had more title defenses. I believe it’s going to be harder to tell the story of Reigns being able to do what Cena couldn’t do for all these months. The second thing is I think there is a great story in the “total redemption” of Daniel Bryan. Having said that, I am 100% fine with Reigns winning the Rumble and main eventing Wrestlemania 31. In speaking with people in the business (who, admittedly are also wrestlers), that seems to be the feeling across the board. Bryan is the safer pick but Reigns is still a viable option. WWE needs to book Reigns correctly in the match, which I explained more at this link.

I’m not a fan of the mentality that “if they’ve never locked up, they can’t have an opinion” but that mentality is so engrained in this business it will never go away. Such thinking, however, is fairly ridiculous.

- Rolling Stone has a new article online featuring quotes from Paul Heyman. In it, Heyman stated that he believes Seth Rollins is the single best in-ring performer in the world today. He made this statement while discussing the atmosphere before coming through the curtain on Raw:

“What happened there was I was watching on the monitor, and you look at who's in the ring," Heyman recalls. "You have John Cena, the top name in this industry for the past 10 years. You have Triple H and all of his accomplishments. You have Stephanie McMahon standing there. You have the Big Show standing there. And you have Seth Rollins, who is – in my opinion – the single best in-ring performer in the world today. Undisputed. And you're about to have Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman join this group.

"So we're standing [backstage] waiting for Brock's music to play, and I looked at him and said, 'You know, you can barely tell the players without a scorecard.' And Brock said, 'Say that,'" he continues. "And I did, because I figured before this all breaks down into some spectacular scenario, why don't we let everyone here understand exactly what they're looking at, and by the way, listen to the people whose names I'm calling out, because they're all A-listers. Why not take that moment to catch your breath and realize this is an all-star cast in front of your eyes?”

On the failed experiments of Curtis Axel and Cesaro as “Heyman Guys:”

“I think the bar was set so high with the chemistry that Brock and I have, and the chemistry that Punk and I had, that it would be very difficult to match that," he says frankly. "It's not just a situation of, 'Stick manager A with wrestler B.' Especially when you're shooting for the top. I've never walked through the curtain with someone I wasn't trying to audition as a WrestleMania main-eventer, and I never want to. And I'm sure the performers I've worked with didn't want to have an advocate whose goal was anything less. But sometimes the chemistry just isn't there.”

CLICK HERE to read the piece in its entirety.

Richard Reacts: High praise for Seth Rollins but it’s hard to argue with Heyman. Rollins has really elevated his standing and is a legitimate challenger for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

I also agree about there is no formula for success. You can’t just stick someone with Heyman and expect it to work.

- For those that missed it on this week’s episode of WWE Smackdown (results here), Dolph Ziggler took a scripted shot at CM Punk.

Ziggler stated that he would rather sit in the ring and face punishment than sit at home complaining on some podcast.

The verified WWE Universe Twitter account Tweeted the direct quote:

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Obviously, Ziggler's comments were a shot at Punk for walking out on WWE and "telling all" on Colt Cabana'sArt of Wrestling podcast last November. - - Dolph Ziggler is featured in this week’s episode of Smackdown Fallout that you can watch at this link. - In a followup to Billy Jack Haynes’ lawsuit against WWE, the company has until January 30 to respond to the allegations. LawyersandSettlements.com provided the update at this link. We covered the lawsuit at this link, where Haynes accuses WWE of mistreating their performers:

“Under the guise of providing ‘entertainment,’ WWE has, for decades, subjected its wrestlers to extreme physical brutality that it knew, or should have known, caused long-term irreversible bodily damage, including brain damage.”

As we reported earlier this week, former WWE wrestlers Vito LoGrasso and Evan Singleton (who worked in developmental as Adam Mercer) have filed an identical lawsuit against the company in federal court in Philadelphia. WWE plans to fight both suits. - I heard some criticism this week about the way Natalya is portrayed on Total Divas. Natalya is universally liked and respected backstage and one observer criticized the way she was made to “look like a fool” in the segments with Paige. Speaking of Paige, she’s dating Kevin Skaff, who is the guitarist from the band A Day To Remember. He was asked to take part in Total Divas but declined. The reason we mention this is there is some footage of him but it’s unknown if it will be used on the reality series. As for a love interest for Alicia Fox, she’ll be linked with Wade Barrett later in the season. Barrett and Fox dated a couple of years ago but for the purposes of the “reality” show, will be portrayed as dating again. - Triple H talked to Good Morning America about breaking character at Monday’s episode of WWE Raw to comfort a fan that he upset. You can watch the segment that features the boy and his father at this link. For those that missed the story, Hunter upset a fan at ringside and broke character to stop him from crying. He had security escort the boy and his father backstage, where they hung out with him and gave him free merchandise. - Tickets for Wrestlemania 31 Axxess go on sale one week from Saturday on January 31, 2015 at Noon EST/9 AM PST. You can watch a hype video at this link - We’ve been asked by a couple of readers about reports that indicate Goldust is retiring soon. He used social media on Friday to debunk them: Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

It’s hard to tell how these type of things get started but that should answer several Ask WNW questions. - Below is the latest list of entrants advertised for Sunday’s 30-man Royal Rumble match: Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, Rusev, Bad News Barrett, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Goldust, Stardust, Big Show, Kane, The Miz, Damien Mizdow, R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, Fandango and Luke Harper. This list excludes Los Matadors, who we had in earlier in the week, but are not on the official WWE list. - The latest episode of The JBL (Not Cole) Show is now online at this link.

Other News

- Chad Dukes had Jeff Hardy on his radio show on Friday to promote Impact Wrestling’s move to Destination America. In the interview, Hardy talked about his cage spot at the TNA Lockdown taping last week in New York City, below is an excerpt:

“I’m recovering as we speak. I’m going to get checked out, some concussion testing maybe an MRI next week. I remember climbing out of the cage, watching that video’s so crazy when you get knocked out and can’t remember what happened, it was freaky. Last thing I can really compare something like that happening in my life, I was trying to jump this motorcross jump I had built and last thing I remember was going over my handlebars and the rest was history, I don’t remember anything else after that. Same scenario, I woke up backstage and seeing the video it’s just freaky, could have went a lot worse. I’m walking, glad to say I’m walking pretty comfortably. My neck and lower back’s pretty banged up but I’m gonna get set straight next week with all that stuff.”

CLICK HERE for the interview in its entirety. This is one of those situations where it’s difficult to separate what’s kayfabe and what’s not. I was sent footage of the bump last Saturday and was told that Jeff was banged up coming out of the taping. However, as the bump received more press, it was clear TNA was really pushing it as a way to write Jeff of television. We also learned that Hardy traveled from New York back to his home in North Carolina less than 24 hours after the bump. Going back and watching the spot, it’s clear that Hardy had picked his landing and didn’t even attempt to protect himself as he fell. So did he suffer a legitimate head injury? I find it hard to believe that he would 1) travel home to North Carolina if he had and 2) that workers like Tommy Dreamer would seemingly made light of it. Furthermore, James Storm "attacked" Hardy as he was receiving assistance going up the ramp. Going forward, Jeff should be considered fine but he won’t be on television for several weeks after the February 6, 2015 Lockdown episode of Impact airs, as they’re heading to the United Kingdom to tape and he’s not on the tour. Jeff has re-signed with TNA and is one of their top names leading the reset on Destination America. - Former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio has signed with Lucha Underground, the promotion announce on Saturday. Del Rio, who now works as Alberto El Patrón, worked his first Lucha Underground match on Saturday in Los Angeles, CA. Below is the official press release:

LUCHA UNDERGROUND’ SIGNS AAA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION ALBERTO EL PATRÓN January 17, 2015, Los Angeles – “Lucha Underground” has signed AAA World Heavyweight Champion Alberto El Patrón it was announced today by “Lucha Underground” the new Lucha Libre wrestling franchise from Emmy Award®-winning producer Mark Burnett, United Artists Media Group, Robert Rodriguez and FactoryMade Ventures. The Mexican professional wrestler and mixed martial artist competed in his first match in Los Angeles today, January 17th. “Lucha Underground” airs Wednesday nights at 8:00pm on El Rey Network and on Saturdays at 4:00 pm in Spanish on UniMás. “We are thrilled to have Alberto El Patrón join ‘Lucha Underground’” said Executive Producer and Showrunner Eric Van Wagenen. “He is a bold and exciting luchador who delivers attitude and skill. He is a very welcome addition to our roster.” Ancient tradition, extraordinary athleticism and a flare for theatrics combine in El Rey Network’s hour-long wrestling series, “Lucha Underground”. The riveting original series introduces American audiences to the high-flying aerial maneuvers, slingshot moves, dramatic masks, intricate, rapid-fire combinations and distinctive wrestling techniques of Lucha Libre, one of Mexico’s most popular sports. Executive produced by Mark Burnett’s United Artists Media Group in association with FactoryMade Ventures, fans will have a ringside seat as masked villains and heroes face off to battle for wrestling supremacy. Some of AAA’s most legendary Luchadores-Blue Demon Jr., Sexy Star, Fenix, Drago and Pentagon Jr. join U.S. based wrestlers Chavo Guerrero Jr., Konnan, Johnny Mundo and Prince Puma and more to provide enthusiastic viewers with an incredibly visceral and explosive experience with a focus on the artistry, originality, intense action and over the top characters that has come to define this phenomenal fan-favorite. A celebration of lucha libre’s long-standing Mesoamerican heritage and culture, dating back to 1863, this is programming that must be seen to be believed. “Lucha Underground” is produced by United Artists Media Group in association with FactoryMade Ventures for El Rey Network. Executive producers are Mark Burnett, Eric Van Wagenen (also showrunner) and Brian Edwards of United Artists Media Group; Dorian Roldán from Lucha Libre AAA; Alejandro Garcia and Antonio Cué Sánchez-Navarro; El Rey Network co-founder Robert Rodriguez; and FactoryMade Ventures and El Rey Network co-founders John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa. The series will be distributed internationally by United Artists Media Group.

This was expected and something we confirmed months before it actually happened. Alberto was released from WWE in August due to a backstage altercation with a company employee. - Jim Ross and Josh Mathews (of all people) were involved in an interesting exchange on Twitter. This is a more G-rated Twitter fight than we saw and refused to cover last week with a couple former WWE Divas. So we’ll bring it to you below: Click here to load Tweets (if not loaded)

Richard Reacts: This one surprised me. I like both Jim Ross and Josh Mathews a good bit but like JR, I’m surprised to see this out of Mathews. He’s usually much more respectful and I felt his “stiff” comments were uncalled for and rude.

Monday, January 19, 2015 8:24 PM EST Update: Josh Mathews has apologized for the Tweet. Below is his latest:

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End update.

- Last week’s episode of Impact Wrestling (1/16/15) garnered an average viewing audience of 387,000 viewers on Destination America. That number is up +28,000 viewers from the week prior. While TNA has been heavily promoting the move, I find it impressive they gained 28,000 viewers from the week prior after moving to the Friday timeslot.

Ask WNW & Premium Mailbag

Do you feel that Daniel Bryan could eventually have "John Cena heat" with the way he's booked? The proverbial underdog, routinely beating people twice his size, etc.

All top WWE stars are polarizing and I absolutely believe Daniel Bryan gets heat because of his success. When you say “John Cena heat,” that can mean a lot of different things.

Cena gets heat for a number of reasons, some that are fair and some that are not. The people that boo Cena and dislike his character because of the lack of progression have a fair point. It’s been the same Cena for several years and many have grown tired of the “never give up,” always “overcome the odds” version of WWE’s top star.

The people that boo Cena because they claim “he can’t wrestle” or that he’s “overrated” likely do so because they either resent his success or feel that having such a position is the popular thing to do. Cena has more than proved he can wrestle and while his abilities are not that of someone like Daniel Bryan, he’s had far too many “five star” matches to make a claim that “he can’t wrestle.” Further, Cena has been the undisputed face of WWE for many years and he ranks right up there with Hulk Hogan, The Rock and Steve Austin. To claim otherwise is incorrect.

So what to make of Daniel Bryan. I do not think he has yet reached his full potential because of the injury that derailed his title reign after Wrestlemania 30. I would like to see Bryan get an opportunity to reclaim that top spot and once he gets a chance to stay up there, see how it goes. It’s far too soon to start talking about Bryan becoming stale when we’ve only been teased with what he could become.

There are people that do not like Daniel Bryan for whatever reason and that comes with the territory. All top WWE stars are polarizing.

Is WWE so blind and deaf that they would actually have Roman Reigns win the Royal Rumble over Daniel Bryan? Don't get me wrong, I like Reigns but shouldn't Daniel Bryan win it? Do they not see a repeat of last year’s Rumble happening?

I took a very close look at Royal Rumble scenarios over the weekend in a feature article at this link. I believe it’s a good problem for WWE to have and while I have clearly stated I would like to see Daniel Bryan win the Royal Rumble in a story of total redemption, I do not believe Reigns winning is the worst thing that can happen.

Reigns isn’t Batista and is another up and coming worker with the potential to be a top star for many years to come. If the Royal Rumble can serve as a launchpad for him to go to the next level, then by all means.

I don’t understand the strong opposition to either Bryan or Reigns winning the Royal Rumble. I could understand a scenario where an already established star comes in and buries the up and comers but even Randy Orton could be used in a program with an up and coming Seth Rollins.

WWE has left their options open heading into Royal Rumble and that’s a good thing.

Do you see Sting entering the Royal Rumble as a surprise entrant?

Sting is all but confirmed for Wrestlemania 31, however, I would be against using him as a surprise entrant in the 2015 Royal Rumble match. Sting is at the end of his career and any future match deserves a well thought out and thorough build.

This isn’t a situation where Sting can debut in the Royal Rumble, work some TV and live event dates and culminate with a main event at Wrestlemania. He’s at the end of the rope and his booking should be handled carefully to ensure maximum exposure.

WWE has already started teasing Sting vs. Triple H, which began at Survivor Series last year. It’s not a sure thing, as we know Sting wants Undertaker and that’s been talked about internally, but Hunter looks like his [Wrestlemania] opponent at press time.

Is there any chance that Jeff Jarrett gets a television deal for Global Force Wrestling?

I absolutely think there is a chance that Jeff Jarrett gets a television deal for Global Force Wrestling, it all just depends on what he is willing to accept. The mainstream interest in pro wrestling from the most popular TV networks is tepid at best. That’s why WWE didn’t have many people bidding on their programming and why TNA Wrestling signed with a lower tier network in Destination America.

Shows like Lucha Underground and New Japan Pro Wrestling have landed deals here in the United States but their market penetration is low due to the lack of clearance from their respective networks.

We must remember that TNA is moving forward at 50% less viewership. I haven’t seen the data for last week but that’s a lot less eyes on their product. It’s not my intention to strip away the optimism regarding the TNA reset but keep in mind they weren’t able to come close to WWE-type viewership numbers with Spike TV and marquee names like Hulk Hogan, Sting and Ric Flair.

From the Ask WNW vault...

October 2013: There’s always so much outcry for more tag teams and for those teams to have longevity. But it seems to me whenever a real good/great team comes around and is impressive, wrestling fans and journalists can’t wait until their demise and eventual break up. Why can’t Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins go on to become multiple time tag team champs? Why do we need to put an expiration date on their time together? - I haven’t been clamoring for the breakup of The Shield; in fact I’ve pushed the opposite. While the faction is nearing their one year anniversary, they’ve handled a scaling back and are back again in the limelight. Let’s also not forget they were show stealers at WWE Battleground and this week’s Monday Night Raw. As for the outcry, there are a couple of things to consider. First, there is a segment of fans that are never going to be pleased. They push for one thing, it happens, and they push for the opposite. This is why sometimes readers perceive me as being “hypocritical” when I push back from the IWC. I am very much a member of the IWC but I am not part of the overly critical fan base. One of the reasons I started this website was I felt there wasn’t a journalist out there that gave the business a fair shake. It was clear they were anti-McMahon and anti-big business. There’s nothing wrong with being either of those things, it’s when a writer loses objectivity that it becomes obnoxious. Second, we have to remember that every character – be it singles, tag team or faction – has a shelf life. It’s very important not to overexpose a character or a tag team or a faction past this life because it leads to apathy and eventual outrage. There aren’t many tag teams like The Dudley Boys that remained relevant for a decade but as we’ve seen, even they had a shelf life. If workers are around long enough, they’ll eventually to do something different. Yes, I do think there are a group of fans that aren’t going to be pleased no matter what but we also have to remember that nothing lasts forever.

I understand Jeff Hardy can't go on TNA Wrestling’s tour of the United Kingdom due to a past drug conviction and I'm sure the fall was scripted originally but I believe he honestly fell trying to do the spot. Now with all the stuff going around and you reported it was a work, how was what he landed on gimmicked?

I revisited what I’ve labeled “bump gate” in a piece over the weekend here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com. Jeff continues to sell he was legitimately injured and is pending further evaluation on his status.

After viewing the tape multiple times, it’s clear it was a controlled fall and that was more than evident with James Storm “attacking” him after it happened. Further, as we’ve pointed out, Hardy traveled less than 24 hours back to North Carolina and there was curious social media activity from his wife and Tommy Dreamer in particular.

As for things being gimmicked, tables are often pre-cut to break and weapons have been gimmicked in the past to prevent serious injuries. I don’t know if that was the case at the TNA Lockdown taping a couple weeks ago but it appears a serious injury DID NOT occur, despite what was originally pumped out by Matt Hardy and publications such as TMZ.

When a wrestler is “fired” in storyline like Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan or Ryback, how does this affect their pay? Do they miss out on their show bonus for not appearing?

Workers under WWE Performer’s Contracts receive $500 for every show they appear on. When a worker doesn’t appear, they do not get paid. That’s true for the collective cases of Ziggler, Rowan and Ryback but their respective “firings” are part of their storylines. Ziggler has used the planned time off to set up some comedy shows.

While one may consider this unfair, the WWE travel schedule is extremely hectic. To get some time off and be at no risk of losing your spot probably isn’t all that bad of a thing. With that being said, I’m expecting all three "fired" workers to be part of Sunday’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view in some capacity.

Why is it that Vince McMahon and Triple H completely ignore common sense when booking certain guys or certain matches. It's a given that Roman Reigns will win the Royal Rumble whether we like it or not. And the way things have been looking here lately, Reigns may need a little more time. And now they have Daniel Bryan back and I'm scared for Reigns that history will repeat itself from last year. Vince and Hunter would be idiots not to give the match to Bryan right?

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 24-36 hours talking about this and will point you to my feature article over the weekend and Monday’s Ask WNW. Again, I believe the best scenario is to put Daniel Bryan over but Roman Reigns winning isn’t the worse thing either. Last year was the perfect storm and while I’ve cautioned that WWE shouldn’t try to force Reigns, I’m not completely opposed to him winning it.

Remember the Bragging Rights PPV that would pit SmackDown vs. Raw? I think it'd be awesome to do that with the Main Roster vs. NXT. It would probably be a good way to introduce NXT talent to a main roster crowd, something WWE has been really bad about. And I think that some of the NXT guys could bring out the best in some of the main roster guys, something we haven't seen from some of them in a while. Thoughts?

I like the way that WWE NXT is setup currently with a weekly TV show on the WWE Network, local live events in Florida and occasional two-hour special events. I don’t think there is any reason to change what is working so well. One of the biggest reasons the NXT shows are so good is because the crowd is awesome. The venue is small and the majority of the audience is familiar with NXT storylines. Trying to throw a bunch of the NXT names out in an arena full of mainstream WWE fans would pose a huge risk that I don’t think would be worth it.

If you could go back in time and experience a moment in professional wrestling history, what would it be? Brock Lesnar beating Undertaker, Hogan body slamming Andre the Giant or something else?

One of the most memorable moments in pro wrestling history for me was when Hulk Hogan turned on Team WCW at Bash at the Beach ’96. The crowd was ready to riot and this is what started the Monday Night War. I also think if you rewind back to Scott Hall first showing up on WCW Monday Nitro, that was a pretty significant thing to happen.

I agree both moments you mentioned - the end of the streak and the bodyslam heard around the world were huge moments. So was the Screwjob of ’97, the retirement of Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels’ final match, the reconciliation between Shawn and Bret in ’10, there are tons.

It’s hard for me to simply “pick one” but I’d love to be in the crowd at any of the aforementioned moments. If you were, you were part of pro wrestling history.

Did it sound ridiculous on Raw when John Cena threatened to walk out with the WWE title and acted like he'd be taking the belt away? The belt is never on TV anyway!

John Cena’s line on last week’s Monday Night Raw where he threatened to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and walk out was ridiculous. It was almost like Vince McMahon’s way of trolling the Internet for the absent WWE Champion that is Brock Lesnar. Sadly, this was just one of many blunders we could point out from recent weeks. It’s hard to explain the unexplainable but I agree, it was a ridiculous thing to say.

Did we witness Brock Lesnar turning babyface on Monday Night Raw or is The Authority just that despised?

A lot of people want to know if Brock Lesnar is a babyface going forward, well not exactly. He did get a big pop to end this week’s Monday Night Raw and the crowd fully bought it when he gave an F5 to Kane and an impressive one to Big Show.

Further, let's don't lose track of the story. John Cena was supposed to be "taken care of" and wasn't, something "Brock took issue with."

We talked about turning Brock last week and my argument was, why risk it? What happened last night might have relieved some of that risk. We have the scoop from backstage at this link.

What were your thoughts on this week’s WWE Raw? I thought it was one of the best in quite some time.

This week’s go-home to Royal Rumble episode of Monday Night Raw was much better. Overall, I enjoyed the broadcast but it wasn’t without issues.

Before I go all negative on you, I thought Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan had a great match, Brock Lesnar was very good in the opening and closing segments, the nostalgia meter was at an all time high, Big Show worked the stick like a pro and Sting’s Raw debut was significant and well done.

However, I have no idea what WWE is doing with the Intercontinental Championship and cannot begin to explain how disappointed I am with the return of Bad News Barrett. No one seems to be buying The Ascension, even in a segment with some of the most legendary tag teams in the history of the wrestling business. And what does it say that Raw has to feature Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Sean “X-Pac” Waltman, The APA, The New Age Outlaws and Sting to be enjoyable?

I mean absolutely no disrespect to the Legends but it’s pretty clear WWE has failed to develop new stars. They could be on the verge of correcting this with some of the names coming up now (The Shield, The Wyatts, Bryan, etc.) but man, a lot of their mind-blowing decisions for refusing to get behind fresh talent was on display this week.

The constant starting and stopping on guys has come back to haunt WWE. We can go back and re-trace it too. Guys like Ryback, Wade Barrett, Dolph Ziggler, Bray Wyatt, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro, The Miz, etc. have all been started on but had the brakes slammed on them at some point and as a result, the company is still relying on what drew in The Attitude Era or in the peak of the Monday Night War to draw for them today.

While I’ll admit the 12-year-old inside of me popped big time for the segments with the NWO, DX, the legendary tag teams and of course Sting, I’m interested to know what someone born after April 1, 2001 thinks. This is a person that never experienced the Monday Night War, never channel-flipped from Nitro to Raw and is who WWE will depend on to grow their business.

I personally believe the lapsed fan is laughing at the state of WWE right now. Again, I mean no disrespect, but why is it that WWE has more hours of programming than ever before, the best developmental facilities than ever before and are relying on a show stacked full of guys — most that don’t even wrestle anymore — to sell one of their “big four” shows?

This is why I offer no opposition to Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble on Sunday. Sure, I think Daniel Bryan is the better story but WWE has to get serious about developing talent. I don’t want to hear about guys lacking ambition or being lazy millennials that don’t want to work for it. That is certainly true to a degree, but we've seen far too many guys that look like they have "it," only to have the rug pulled out from under them.

The constant indecision that plagues WWE’s creative process and a blatant lack of confidence in all but a select few guys has left no one but the guys that used to be popular to save the show. It’s time for WWE to get serious about "future stars" or their business will begin to fade.

Was TNA Wrestling on the verge of going out of business before they were picked up by Destination America?

No one will know how close TNA Wrestling was to closing up shop because the fact of the matter is, there are only two or three people [with the last name Carter] that could give you an honest answer. We continually pushed back on reports that had TNA going out but explained several times if they lost Spike TV, they would have to dramatically scale back their operations.

TNA lost Spike and has significantly scaled back their operations. That’s not a bad thing but it was necessary if they were going to continue to operate.

From the Ask WNW vault…

May 2012: Why did WWE bring back Skip Sheffield as Ryback? - Ryback was Skip Sheffield’s old gimmick as he was a WWE developmental standout along with Sheamus as Sheamus O’Shaunessy and Ryback were a tag team prior to Sheamus being called up to the main roster. While The Nexus provided Sheffield a good opportunity, he was nothing more than an extra to people like Wade Barrett and Daniel Bryan. The revamp as Ryback gives him a chance to become a much “bigger deal” in WWE.

Are there any rumors regarding guest spots in the Royal Rumble? Any Superstars or Legends returning?

I expect some surprise entrants in Sunday’s Royal Rumble match. A name that I’ve heard come up a few times is Rob Van Dam but I am unable to confirm him as an entrant. I reported here on Wrestling News World that Sheamus and Bo Dallas are expected back soon, so they should also be held in consideration. Randy Orton is a popular surprise pick and that’s one of two options WWE has with him. We looked at that at this link.

Is it possible we see a NXT wrestler in the Royal Rumble this year?

There should be at least one Royal Rumble entrant from WWE NXT, if not more. Names to look for include Bull Dempsey, Finn Balor, Adrian Neville, Sami Zayn, Hideo Itami, Kalisto, Enzo Amore or Tyler Breeze. At the risk of sounding like a mark, I can’t wait for Balor and Itami on the main roster. They should be stars.

Are there actually any authentic WWE records where win-losses records of Superstars are kept?

I don’t know how much WWE monitors the win/loss records of their talent but I wanted to use this opportunity to give you some perspective on win/loss records heading into Sunday’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view.

1. That’s the number of matches that WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar has won since ending The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania 30 last year. Granted, he’s only had two matches since then (SummerSlam and Night of Champions) but he was ruled the loser via disqualification at Night of Champions.

While WWE must last least consider taking the title off Brock at Royal Rumble, given his uncertain status past Wrestlemania, I think at least one successful title defense is needed.

With Brock Lesnar likely to leave after Wrestlemania, do you think the fan chants in this match will be similar to his infamous match vs. Goldberg 11 years prior?

I doubt it. Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg at Wrestlemania 20 was a mid-card bout that didn’t receive proper build and neither Brock nor Goldberg cared about it. If Brock goes into Wrestlemania 31 as WWE World Heavyweight Champion, it’ll probably close the show as the main event.

Further, Brock is at a completely different stage of his career. 11 years ago he was entering his prime and was resented for wanting to quit. There is nothing left for Brock Lesnar to accomplish in WWE. I am completely fine with him leaving after Wrestlemania 31 and I believe most WWE fans feel the same way.

What I don’t understand is the amount of heat Roman Reigns is getting for being Lesnar’s possible opponent. WWE has to really focus on building new top talent and a lot of resources have went in to making Roman Reigns that guy. Once again, I understand why people want Daniel Bryan to get the win (especially after last year) but either way, WWE should have a new top name after Wrestlemania 31 this year.

From the Ask WNW vault…

June 2012: Seeing as how WWE is short on top tier talent, do you think they should call some older guys to come back for a couple of months? Like Shawn Michaels, possibly the Undertaker? Or maybe reach out to Batista and see if they can get back under contract? - WWE has already done what you are asking, hence The Rock and Brock Lesnar coming back on part-time deals. Shawn Michaels is under WWE contract but is retired from the ring and only desires to do things that do not involve him wrestling. The Undertaker is also under WWE contract but is semi-retired and used for Wrestlemania. Batista is a guy the company has interest in but no deal has been put together as of this writing. Now is the time of year where competition is light and can be used to develop new main event stars. Rather than WWE relying on the older and more established names, it’s a good time to create more stars to mix with the aforementioned talent when competition gets stiffer and Wrestlemania season draws closer.

With Paul Heyman saying Seth Rollins is the best wrestler today, do you see Rollins winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Royal Rumble, only for Brock to enter the Rumble itself and win it? Of course setting up Lesnar vs. Rollins for the title at Wrestlemania 31.

This swerve scenario was explained by Joey Styles in an editorial piece over on WWE.com. We recapped it at this link. I believe it’s a great idea for a swerve, especially if WWE goes through with turning Lesnar babyface.

I don’t think it’s likely, especially with Styles “predicting it to happen” on the official company website in the days before the pay-per-view.

Can you see a scenario where Daniel Bryan wins the Royal Rumble and goes on to face Seth Rollins at Wrestlemania 31?

Yes, this scenario is possible and wouldn’t even require a swerve (although it could with a “cash in” of the Money in the Bank briefcase). We can’t rule out any scenario with a confirmed Royal Rumble entrant and one of the three participants in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match. Obviously some scenarios are more likely than others but all combinations of the aforementioned are still possible.

The important thing to note is WWE has left their options open. As a result, there is a lot of intrigue surrounding Sunday’s pay-per-view. More intrigue translates into a higher level of interest, which should sell more WWE Network subscriptions.

Having discussed these scenarios, I’m sticking with Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble and Brock Lesnar retaining the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

A lot has gone into the push of Roman Reigns and I would find it hard to believe the company would abort those plans. Further, Brock needs a successful defense of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and while WWE has to at least consider him losing, the torch should be passed at Wrestlemania.

My card for Wrestlemania 31 is still Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Sting vs. Triple H, John Cena vs. Rusev and Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton. Obviously these matches do not account for Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose and others that will have to be fit around it.

All of those matches — aside from Sting vs. Hunter — are subject to change and hinge on the booking of Sunday’s pay-per-view. If those expected matches don’t happen, WWE swerved. If they do, Royal Rumble was by the book.

You've mentioned Triple H and Vince McMahon clashing and how it could influence the booking, inconsistencies, elevation or lack thereof, etc. Don't they have to answer to a Board of Directors? If so, do you see them stepping in to correct this, demand a better product, etc?

WWE has a Board of Directors, in which Vince McMahon is in charge of. You can view those board members at this link.

As for changes in WWE management being “demanded” or even “forced,” a recommendation for changes was made to the board last year by Lemelson Capital Management, a private investment management firm, after WWE failed to significantly increase their domestic TV licensing fees and questions about the profitability of the WWE Network. You can read all about that at this link.

I believe there is a big disconnect between WWE as the publicly traded entertainment company and how they function behind the curtain. Pro wrestling is a weird business and the mainstream just doesn’t understand it. To shareholders, it’s all just a bunch of numbers. When the numbers don’t add up, they call for changes. They don’t know the difference between a good match and a bad match. A top talent that draws and a jobber. It’s just numbers.

As for the issues between Vince McMahon and Triple H, it’s clear a tension exists because they have different visions. It’s very difficult to evaluate just how much damage this tension causes and I wouldn’t even want to guess. I don’t see a situation where Vince McMahon is “forced to resign,” as one thing that is communicated to investors in WWE’s filings is that the loss of Vince would significantly impact the company’s key financial drivers.

From the Ask WNW vault…

April 2009: Could we see Kurt Angle in WWE again? - Anything is possible but I really do not believe Kurt Angle has another WWE run left in him. Angle is 40-years-old and is not in the best health. Along with neck problems, Angle has dealt with several other ailments and is currently dealing with a pulled groin. Angle maintains he's going to try a career at MMA but I don't see that happening either.

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