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John Cena Tanks Raw Promo, Major Upcoming Raw & Smackdown Changes, The Rock Urging WWE To Bring Back Major Attitude Era Name, Big Push Being Made For New 2013 WWE Hall Of Fame Inductee, CM Punk Says He Returned Too Soon, Big Indy Name Getting WWE Tryout

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Welcome to the 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 19, 2013 to Friday, January 25, 2013 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
- TNA News
- Ask WNW

WWE News

- Travis Barker was backstage at Friday's WWE Raw live event in Los Angeles, CA. Rey Mysterio Tweeted a photo backstage with him that you can view below:

- WWE announced a live event from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey on March 30th, 2013. (Thanks to Devin Cutting)

- Someone, somewhere (it's hard to keep up with the false rumors out there) reported that Randy Orton was taking time off. Here's what Orton had to say about it:

- WWE is polling fans on Facebook to find out their thoughts on the recent internal movement to spoil major events such as title changes done on taped shows. The polls, available here, are posted below:

Which of the following statements best describes your thoughts on online “spoilers” for WWE’s TV shows?

  • I frequently seek them out in advance, as they help me decide whether to watch.
  • I frequently seek them out in advance, but I still watch shows no matter what.
  • I don’t mind when WWE reveals a rare historic moment in advance.
  • I don’t like spoilers. I want to be completely surprised by everything.

If you view "spoilers" regarding an upcoming WWE program, are you more inclined to tune in to that programming when it airs, or less inclined?

  • More inclined to tune in.
  • Less inclined to tune in.

Should WWE reveal information about title changes on taped TV shows (e.g., SmackDown, Main Event) on its website and social media before they air?

  • Yes, fans should know about title changes as soon as possible on WWE's website.
  • Yes, but clearly mark it as a SPOILER, so fans can avoid it if they wish.
  • No, WWE should wait until shows air to reveal the info on its website.

- Antonio Cesaro remained in-character for an article promoting Saturday night's WWE Raw live event in Ontario, California. Click here to read it.

- In promoting the 20th anniversary of WWE Raw, CM Punk explained why the show has remained successful:

"It's successful because it changes with the times… It's not just a wrestling show, it's a complete spectacle."

Click here to read all of Punk's comments.

- Fox 12 Oregon has an article on WWE signing Oregon State University's Clayton Jack to a three-year developmental contract. You can read it at this link.

- It appears as if the 52nd episode of WWE Download with Dolph Ziggler will be the last. Ziggler posted the following tweet regarding the show's finale:

- John "Bradshaw" Layfield issued an apology to Bubba Ray and Devon Dudley after a comment he made on commentary on last week's Smackdown. Below is the apology that was posted on Layfield's Facebook page:

Anytime you do a ton of tv every week you are bound to make mistakes. I made one this past week on Smackdown and tried to correct it on air but wasn't able to get it done sufficiently, so I want to apologize to my good friends the Dudleys openly-and to all you twitter police so you can get out of Momma's basement and enjoy the weekend. I was trying to make the point that a lot of tag teams never make it, or try to make it, as singles wrestlers and listed the Killer Bees, LOD and Dudley's (and I think Hart Foundation). Sometimes on air you try to go somewhere entertaining and you get caught and try to correct it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I realized as soon as I said it that both the Dudley's and Hart Foundation had become huge singles stars-I was thinking about my time in WWE where Dudley's had been mainly just a tag team-and one of greatest of all time in what I think was greatest era of tag teams in history when you had Edge/Christian, NAO, DX, Dudley's, APA, LOD, Hardy's and more all at the same time. Bubba and Devon have been good friends for a long time and I have the utmost respect and love for them, if I had made the mistake on someone else-I would just chalk it up to live TV and not worry about it. But, these guys are good friends and with the Twitter police loving to correct me I thought I would just make it public and explain how it happened. What I hate more than anything is this becoming an issue and taking away from great work in the ring, as my job is to do my best to tell stories about talent in an attempt to help them get over. Believe me, it won't be the last time I make a mistake, I fire stuff out rapidly sometimes with references I don't plan on making as a way to try and be entertaining and react to the events in front of me. However, the Dudley's first day with the APA Bubba hit me so hard with a 2x4 that I owed him a receipt anyway!!!

Click here to read Layfield's apology in its original format. - WWE posted a new article on dot com intended to introduce readers to the top NXT prospects. The article includes a list of the following workers:

  • Kassius Ohno (formerly known as Chris Hero)
  • Leo Kruger (on the road with Smackdown)
  • Bo Dallas (on the road with Smackdown)
  • Paige
  • Richie Steamboat
  • Adrian Neville (formerly known as PAC)
  • Anya
  • Bray Wyatt (formerly known as Husky Harris), Luke Harper & Erick Rowan

NXT is the name of WWE's official developmental territory based in Tampa, Florida. You can read the full article at this link. - With Zack Ryder (Z! True Long Island Story) and Dolph Ziggler (WWE Download) announcing the end of their respective YouTube shows, WWE wants to know what fans what to see on their official channel. Below is the question and the responses, followed by the link to vote.

What kind of programming would you most want to see on WWE’s YouTube channel in 2013?

  • Behind-the-scenes footage and backstage interviews
  • “Best of” video rankings and countdowns
  • Superstar-hosted reality shows
  • Profiles of Superstars' lives outside the ring and/or at home
  • Ring action recaps and highlight reels
  • WWE-themed game shows with fan contestants
  • Superstar-hosted fitness and exercise shows
  • Animated WWE shows/WWE cartoons
  • Classic full-length WWE matches
  • WWE news center/live fan “call-in” show

Click here to vote now. Richard Reacts: As of this writing, "Classic full-length WWE matches," what I voted for, leads the poll with 27%. - Justin Roberts Touted videos from the weekend live events at this link. (Thanks to WNW reader Mathew Lisett for sending this in.) - Santino Marella wrote the following on Twitter:

As noted over the weekend, Santino is taking time off with a neck injury. - The February 2013 issue of WWE Magazine was sent to the subscribers last week. The magazine features The Rock on the cover. - Dolph Ziggler noted on his Twitter account that WWE Download, his YouTube series, was ending in connection with the expiration of WWE's one-year contract with the service. WWE is re-tooling their YouTube programming as they asked fans over the weekend what shows they wanted to see on the company's official channel. - Former WWE developmental Diva Skyler Moon, who was released this month, has nothing but good to say about her former employer. The following is from her Twitter account:

- Zack Ryder announced via his social media platforms that he will be performing his new single "Hoeski" live for fans prior to the Royal Rumble. The announcement is below:

- Next week's episode of WWE Raw will feature Raw Roulette as they return to Las Vegas, Nevada. The show will take place next Monday from the Thomas & Mack Center. - Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show for the World Heavyweight Championship at Royal Rumble will be a "Last Man Standing" Match. The stipulation was officially announced on WWE's new App during a vignette where Show demanded the match from Booker T. - Bob Backlund was announced as the second inductee to the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame on this week's WWE Raw. Backlund joins Mick Foley as members of the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2013. They will both be inducted Saturday, April 6, 2013 from Madison Square Garden in New York City. - After The Rock was attacked by The Shield on this week's WWE Raw, he was seen bleeding from the mouth. He addressed the injury on his Twitter account, claiming a serious injury:

As seen on dot com, The Rock got up during the commercial break and promised the crowd that he would beat CM Punk at the Royal Rumble. - It was announced on this week's WWE Raw that if The Shield "interferes" during CM Punk's WWE title match against The Rock at Royal Rumble, Punk will be stripped of the title. - After this week's WWE Raw went off the air, the mini-Royal Rumble resulted in Sheamus and John Cena left in the ring. A dark match main event then took place with Cena & Sheamus beating Big Show & Wade Barrett. - The closing segment of this week's WWE Raw caused confusion regarding participants in the 30-man Royal Rumble match. While it was implied on commentary those that came out in the closing segment would be in the match, it wasn't long before we had the list of participants right at 30 or even over 30. Checking back on dot com, the company lists the following workers as "official entrants":

  • John Cena
  • Sheamus
  • Randy Orton
  • Dolph Ziggler (has to choose between No. 1 or No. 2)
  • 3MB (Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre)
  • United States Champion Antonio Cesaro
  • Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett

Given the mic work of The Prime Time Players, The Miz and Team Hell No, one would assume they are all confirmed as well. However, they are not on WWE's list as of this writing. - The Phoenix News Times has a new Q&A online with WWE United States Champion Antonio Cesaro. Below is an excerpt:

A few years back, you were on the independent circuit with Daniel Bryan and other current WWE Superstars. How does it feel now that y'all have taken over WWE? I think it's great and it just proves that if you work hard and if you get better and better and get the best at your craft as you can be [then] you will have success. You know, all those guys -- Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, myself, and many others -- have put a lot of hard work into what they do and made a lot of sacrifices. [They] still do. It does not come overnight. Wrestling has always had evil foreigners as villains. Are you a modern-day version? Uh, yes. I think I'm a modernized [version]. I'm very fond of tradition, very fond. I don't like the term old school, but if I would use it then I would consider myself old school. I believe in old school values, for lack of a better term, because I think those are still very valid. Values that people just don't have. You don't see people holding open doors for elderly people for the ladies. That's just stuff that got lost with time. And I don't know why, because, I think, being a gentleman, like I am, that's very important and that's something that should be taught.

Click here to read the Q&A in its entirety. - The original plan was for Ric Flair to be featured on this week's WWE Raw but whatever reason, it didn't happen. It's unknown if Flair will work Tuesday night's Smackdown taping, as was also planned, before heading overseas to work for All Japan Pro Wrestling. - Dave Dutra, JR Kratos and Juli Pedrosa from All Pro Wrestling were the police officers that "denied" The Rock entry into this week's WWE Raw. - Vince McMahon made an on-air gaffe while announcing the stipulation for CM Punk vs. The Rock for the WWE title at Royal Rumble on this week's WWE Raw. While the stipulation is if The Shield "interferes," then Punk is stripped of the title, McMahon said if Punk interfered that he would be stripped of the title. - John Cena's promo in the final segment of this week's WWE Raw drew negative marks across the board. The reaction seemed to be... what in the heck was he talking about? For those that missed it, Cena "picked" members of the audience and tried to describe stereotypical moments of their lives in what fell flat. - Curt Hawkins made his return to the television in the final segment of this week's WWE Raw and is a possible Royal Rumble entrant. - Last week's Smackdown did a 2.03 cable rating with an average viewing audience of 2,884,000 viewers on SyFy. - WWE has updated their list of official Royal Rumblehere on dot com. The list now includes The Miz and Ryback and is shown below:

  • John Cena
  • Sheamus
  • Randy Orton
  • Dolph Ziggler (has to choose between No. 1 or No. 2)
  • 3MB (Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre)
  • United States Champion Antonio Cesaro
  • Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett
  • The Miz
  • Ryback

- Stephanie McMahon was featured in Advertising Age's "40 Under 40." She explained the merging of the creative teams:

"We are all telling the same stories. And digital and social offer the ability to continue storylines 24/7 so our fans can consume the content anytime, anywhere on the device they prefer."

Click here to read the article in its entirety. - Antonio Cesaro will defend the WWE United States Championship against The Miz in a match on the Royal Rumble Pre-Show. You can read the official preview at this link. We'll stream the Royal Rumble Pre-Show live Sunday at 7:30 PM EST here at - WWE has announced a live event from MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts on Friday, March 29, 2013. Tickets go on sale February 2, 2013. - The official WWE website released an article about Brad Maddox and his cameraman being attacked prior to the Smackdown tapings in Sacramento, California. An excerpt is below:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – sources have learned that Brad Maddox and his personal cameraman, Carson, apparently have been victims of an attack during the SmackDown television tapings and have been transported to a nearby medical facility. Further details are very limited at this time.

Click here to view the full release.

- We noted earlier that last week's Smackdown did an average viewing audience of 2,884,000 viewers on SyFy. WNW reader Darius sent this link that takes a look at all of the show's competition on Friday night. TV By The Numbers has this data weekly and we won't be linking every week but this is for those looking to go deeper. - Craig Hlavaty from the Houston Press was a seat filler at the 20th Anniversary of WWE Raw last week. What's a seat filler you may ask? Check out the editorial at this link. - The presale issues have been sorted and tickets for Wrestlemania Fan Axxess are now available. You can purchase at this link with the password ACCESS. - We reported last month that Ted DiBiase suffered a left hand injury at the 12/26 Smackdown live event in a match against Fandango. DiBiase addressed the injury on his Twitter account on Wednesday:

We posted a rare Ted DiBiase photo on our new Instagram account. - The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that The Rock will potentially team with Beau Flynn and Hiram Garcia to produce a film called Teddy Bear. You can read the full details at this link. - SLAM! Wrestling has an article online featuring Trent Baretta discussing his WWE release. Below is an excerpt:

"Luckily I wasn't driving to the show with everyone at the time, it was just me when I got the call" Baretta told SLAM! Wrestling backstage in Calgary in his first print interview since his release. "I totally saw it coming. I was on the road doing pretty good, I thought I was improving constantly and then I tore my tricep. I was out six months and was ready to get back to it and was sent to FCW practice. So I was like, 'Ohh, something's up. This isn't good.'" "As far as headlining the house show that doesn't mean anything. I am buddies with Dolph and his little brother and they wanted me to be part of it. It wasn't like the office was like, 'We need Trent.' It was Dolph saying, 'Let's have him involved.' It isn't about how good of a wrestler you are. It is more about what your character is and they weren't buying what I was selling them as a character; that is why I am gone. It isn't that they thought I was a bad wrestler; they just weren't happy with my character."

Click here to read the article in its entirety. - While word has made rounds in many circles that Brian Gerwitz has been creatively involved in The Rock's latest return to WWE, we're told he's not the only guy Rock wants to see have a larger role in the company. The Rock has been urging Vince McMahon and Triple H to get Pat Patterson more involved in the planning of longterm booking in WWE. It's been many years since Patterson has had influence on a regular basis and usually gets more involved around Royal Rumble time and is quickly forgotten until the next year. The Rock wants Patterson to have more influence year round. Although convincing Vince and Hunter isn't the only obstacle, as we're told he would actually have to convince Patterson to take the increased responsibilities. A large part of phasing out Patterson has been of his own doing as he has desired to spend more time enjoying life outside of wrestling. The Rock surprised Patterson at his birthday dinner (he turned 72) on Saturday night in South Florida. We're told Rock again mentioned to Patterson he should consider being more involved with WWE. - Jim Ross is at his home in Oklahoma battling the flu and will not be doing commentary work at Royal Rumble on Sunday. - More speculation takes place this time of the year than any other regarding surprise Royal Rumble match entrants. Bill Goldberg Tweeted "Not a chance in hell," when asked if he was showing up at the pay-per-view. - Dot com counts down "The 20 Greatest WCW Matches of All Time." You can read the list at this link. - This week's WWE Raw did a 3.04 cable rating with an average viewing audience of 4,320,000 viewers on the USA Network. Below is the by hour breakdown:

  • Hour one - 4,370,000 viewers
  • Hour two - 4,420,000 viewers
  • Hour three - 4,160,000 viewers

- THQ was officially sold and auctioned off on Wednesday, with the assets being divided amongst winning bidders. An email was sent to all THQ employees, informing them of the winning bidders and stated that most would likely be offered jobs by the new companies. You can read that email at this link. As for what this means for WWE '14, the rights to it was not auctioned off on Wednesday. However, we're being told that 2KSports, a subsidiary of Take Two, is expected to buy the franchise. IGN is essentially reporting the same thing, adding negotiations appear to have taken place outside THQ's formal auction process. Their report doesn't state whether WWE will be under the 2KSports banner or under another division of Take Two. - has an article online promoting Sunday's Royal Rumble pay-per-view. The piece, titled "Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson mentors WWE's Kofi Kingston," features quotes from Kofi Kingston… but he's not happy about it. When asked about The Rock's return, Kofi was quoted as to saying:

"I met him when he first came back last year. He's real cool. He had some advice for me, I had a chance to pick his brain a bit ... I spoke to him about certain things about the business, just general questions about how he got to where he was. Obviously you see a guy like The Rock, you see his success, you want to know exactly - from his mind and his mouth - how he got there, because I want to emulate that. If you don't want the success The Rock has had, then you probably shouldn't be in the WWE."

The former WWE Intercontinental Champion wrote the following on Twitter about the article:

Click here for the article by - WWE sent out a new Fan Council survey this week, asking respondents to vote on new names for separate house shows tours, which run simultaneously on normal non-pay-per-view weekends. This would do away with the current model of Raw and Smackdown live events, the only remaining element of the WWE brand extension. The changes are expected to take effect later this year. - Tyson Kidd, who is rehabbing from knee surgery, wrote the following on Twitter:

- Jim Ross wrote the following on Twitter:

- Ryback discusses the evolution of his character, friendships with Wade Barrett and David Otunga and promotes Sunday's Royal Rumble pay-per-view in a new Q&A with College Times. Click here to read it. - Crave Online has a new Q&A online with WWE Studios President Michael Luisi. You can read it at this link. - WWE has announced the following live events from the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in Doha, Qatar:

  • Thursday, February 21, 2013
  • Friday, February 22, 2013

- Do you remember La Parka from World Championship Wrestling? If not, WWE has added his profile to their Alumni section here on dot com. - Michael Cole has a new editorial here on where he addresses being a social media "dumb ass" and details an incident where he Tweeted a homophobic slur at Josh Mathews. - We're told as of late Tuesday/early Wednesday there was no deal in place to induct Bruno Sammartino into the WWE Hall of Fame. "It's crunch time," as one source told me. If a deal is not reached by the end of the week, they're going to be out of time and have to move on without Sammartino. Triple H thinks the deal will get done and that they are very close but since it's not done yet, a lot can happen. We're told both sides will kayfabe until it's officially announced as they are hoping to hammer out the rest of the details by the end of the weekend, otherwise the deal may be dead. - Booker T did a conference call on Thursday to promote Sunday's Royal Rumble pay-per-view. The only noteworthy tidbits to come out of the call were that Book isn't entering the 30-man Rumble match and is working with Medallion Press for his second autobiography. - The presale password to obtain tickets to the 3/24 Smackdown taping in Baltimore, Maryland is WWESHEAMUS. - In an interview with the Montgomery AdvertiserDaniel Bryan said that wrestling Rey Mysterio was a "dream come true." You can read his full comments at this link. - The Phoenix New Times has a detailed Q&A with Cody Rhodes online here. - Royal Rumble predictions are available here on - Jim Ross has a new blog entry available on his official website where he gives his thoughts heading into Royal Rumble. JR believes CM Punk will push The Rock further than John Cena did last year and feels either Cena or "someone like" Dolph Ziggler will win the 30-man Royal Rumble match. Click here to read JR's latest in its entirety. - Twenty-eight students and staff members of Full Sail University were guests at WWE Raw on January 7th in Tampa, Florida. You can read about their experience at this link. - WWE has announced a live event from the Hammond Civic Center in Hammond, Indiana on March 16, 2013. CM Punk was recently interviewed by Ariel Helwani of, and discussed a number of topics, including his match with The Rock, his character's direction, MMA, his feelings on being left off of WrestleMania posters, and more. Punk and Helwani have the following exchange regarding Punk's recent knee injury:

Helwani: "How's the knee?" Punk: "The knee's all right." Helwani: "How'd you come back so quickly?" Punk: "I'm stupid." Helwani: "You shouldn't have come back so quickly?" Punk: "Probably not." Helwani: "Do you feel the effects of that?" Punk: "Yeah, absolutely. It looks like I have a second kneecap on my knee - scar tissue and stuff like that." Helwani: "Will you need to take time off at some point?" Punk: "Need?" Helwani: "Do you want to?" Punk: "I would love to." Helwani: "Maybe after April? You can't take time off now, this is-" Punk: "I can technically do what I want, but I don't know if April is the season to try to take time off. WrestleMania and everything like that. The biggest show of the year, the biggest money-making show of the year, you obviously want a piece of that." Helwani: "How close to 100% are you right now?" Punk: "I don't think I was 100% before my surgery, you know what I mean? My knee is better now than it was. I tore my knee up in September against John Cena in Boston Garden. It's better now than it was, but y'know, that's a relative term. I don't know what 100% means anymore."

Click here to watch the full interview. - WWE sent out a new survey on Friday morning, gauging fan interest in another animated program. As noted in the survey, WWE will co-produce an "action packed" Scooby-Doo animated movie that will feature WWE Superstars and Divas. Below is the survey in its entirety:

Thank you for participating in the survey. Your complete and honest answers will help us better serve you and other members of the WWE Universe in the future. What is your exact age?Do you have any children under the age of 18 living in your household who are WWE fans?How many times in an average month do you watch cartoons or animated programs?Do you like any of the following cartoons or animated programs? The Smurfs The Rugrats Alvin and the Chipmunks The Flintstones Justice League He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Looney Tunes Scooby Doo Tom and Jerry None of the above Does your household own any of the following cartoons or animated programs on DVD? Select all that apply. Looney Tunes Alvin and the Chipmunks The Rugrats Tom and Jerry The Smurfs Justice League Scooby Doo The Flintstones He-Man and the Masters of the Universe None of the above WWE will co-produce an action packed Scooby-Doo animated movie that will feature WWE Superstars and Divas including Triple H, John Cena, Kane, The Miz, Santino Marella, AJ, Brodus Clay, Sin Cara and WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon. These WWE Superstars will appear in an animated form helping their friends Scooby, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne and Fred solve an exciting mysterious case at WrestleMania. If WWE Superstars were to appear in another animated program, which of the following properties would you be most interested in seeing partnered with WWE? The Smurfs The Flintstones Looney Tunes (e.g., Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, etc.) Which of these three properties would you be most interested in seeing partnered with WWE? The Rugrats Justice League (e.g., Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, etc.) Alvin and the Chipmunks And which of these three properties would you be most interested in seeing partnered with WWE? Tom and Jerry Scooby Doo He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Of the three animated programs you selected, which would you be most interested in seeing partnered with WWE? He-Man and the Masters of the Universe The Rugrats The Flintstones What is your race / ethnicity?Which of the following ranges best describes your total annual household income (before taxes)?

- Sheamus was on CBS Radio 106.7 the Fan with Chad Dukes to promote Royal Rumble. Below are the highlights: The Rock:

"I personally think it’s a great thing when the Rock comes back for the simple reason that having someone like him come in, a movie star, what he’s done in WWE, it definitely brings an audience back who may have drifted away, who were there in the Attitude era drifted away to other things. It’s a great way of bringing them back in and giving us the current crop of superstars a lot of attention. People may argue “well there’s one less spot in Mania.” Well guess what, pull your socks up and do what you can to get into the show."

The Shield's impact:

"I think it’s been a huge impact. Obviously I’ve had my issues with them, Randy, Team Hell No and Ryback. I think they’re three future individual stars right there. I think Ambrose himself is quirky and he’s got that kinda crazy persona going on, I think he’s definitely gonna be kinda like a Roddy Roddy Piper type character. I think he’s gonna be a big player in the future. I also think Roman Reigns definitely has something as well. He’s big, impressive, kinda reminds me of the Rock, when he first came in. He’s definitely got that stature & that presence about him. Obviously Seth, he’s been around the block as well, done some cool things and he can definitely go in the ring."

Click here to listen to the interview in its entirety. - For those that missed it on this week's WWE Main Event, the company announced an "Intercontinental Cup" that will be hosted by WWE Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett on next week's show. Barrett, in-character, Tweeted the following about it:

- The Rock has been preparing for his WWE title match against CM Punk with Michael McGillicutty. He wrote the following on Twitter:

- I recently went on record in writing that Wrestlemania 29 has the potential to be the biggest of all-time. WWE'sJohn Layfield has given me the opportunity to explain why in a new editorial posted on Follow the link below to read now:

Will Wrestlemania 29 be biggest of all time by Richard Gray

Also, do not forget to download The Layfield Report App for iPhone and check out

- Rikishi was contacted to work Sunday's 30-man Royal Rumble match but had to decline due to a prior commitment.

- The Miz promotes Sunday's Royal Rumble pay-per-view in a lengthy Q&A with Gordon Holmes at this link.

- Will Wrestlemania 29 best the biggest of all-time? Read my argument here on

- We're told WWE is bringing in Samuray Del Sol, known for his work in Dragon Gate USA, for a tryout. We ran a story earlier this month that they were interested because of his high-flying skill-set. While the specifics are not completely known, our source says he was told to make sure he was able to pass a drug test in four to six weeks. You may remember TNA Wrestling had also shown interest in Del Sol but we're told that interest isn't shared. TNA has reportedly given up on pursuing him as the feeling is he will inevitably end up in WWE.

- The New York Post has a lengthy Q&A online with Jerry Lawler to promote Wrestlemania 29. You can read it at this link.

- WWE has announced that Alberto Del Rio will be a guest at the 1/31 WWE NXT TV tapings and Randy Orton will be a guest at the 2/21 tapings. We'll have full coverage with taping results available here at

TNA News

- TNA Wrestling announced on Facebook that Jeff Hardy will not be appearing on the upcoming tour of the United Kingdom due to injury. There are rumors that his removal is actually due to his prior drug convictions, but we do not have confirmation on that at this time. The full release is below:

TNA IMPACT WRESTLING regrets to inform our fans in the UK and Ireland that Jeff Hardy will not be on the Road To Lockdown Tour, due to an injury sustained on the TNA IMPACT WRESTLING show on January 18.

However we are delighted to announce that ‘The Icon’ Sting will be replacing Jeff at the TNA live events in Dublin, Glasgow, Nottingham, Manchester and London.

Also appearing on all five shows will be global wrestling superstars including Kurt Angle, Bully Ray, Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, James Storm, Magnus, RVD, Tara and Velvet Sky.

The Immortal Hulk Hogan and Brooke Hogan were recently added to the roster for TNA’s TV tapings in Manchester and London.

The stars of TNA Wrestling: British Boot Camp – Marty Scurll, Rockstar Spud and The Blossom Twins – will also be appearing in Glasgow, Nottingham, Manchester and London.

- I just spoke with Wrestling News World Orlando correspondent Scott Brooks regarding Jeff Hardy being yanked from the company's upcoming tour of the United Kingdom and asked him whether or not an injury had occurred. Brooks, who was in attendance at Friday night's Impact Wrestling taping, told me he was under the impression Hardy was pulled due to legal issues preventing him from entering the UK and the kayfabe reasoning was that an injury had occurred. Brooks went on to say he would be "very surprised" if Hardy was legitimately injured and criticized the company for their booking of the main event of next week's show. Full taping results are available at this link.

- TNA Wrestling has launched the new dimension to their Gut Check Challenge where fans can vote who is most deserving of appearing in the segment on Impact Wrestling. First Round voting ends on March 11, 2013. Click here to vote now.

- Rockstar Spud won the first season of TNA British Bootcamp, beating out The Blossom Twins and Marty Scurll for a TNA roster spot. Hulk Hogan and Dixie Carter announced the winner at the end of the episode which aired on Tuesday on Challenge TV in the United Kingdom.

- X-Division star Kid Kash may be finished with TNA Wrestling. His profile on TNA's roster page is gone. While I would say to look much into it, other stars' profiles have been deleted from the page recently, including Rosita and Sarita and those two officially left the company. Update from Richard: Kash, on what I'm assuming is his official Twitter account, is denying he's gone from the company. Kash has been a workhorse for TNA over the years and someone I was very proud to have the privilege of interviewing last year.

- We reported on Tuesday that Rockstar Spud won the premiere season of TNA British Boot Camp, earning a roster spot in the company. TNA issued the following, detailing the win:

Birmingham’s “Rockstar Spud” is the newest global wrestling sensation after winning hit Challenge TV reality show TNA Wrestling: British Boot Camp.

Spud overcame rivals The Blossom Twins and Marty Scurll in the Challenge Late Zone contest, which was judged by TNA Wrestling President Dixie Carter and ‘The Immortal’ Hulk Hogan. The foursome were mentored by British wrestling legend Rollerball Rocco.

Spud’s prize is a full-time contract with TNA IMPACT WRESTLING and the chance to step into the ring alongside his boyhood hero Hulk Hogan, Olympic gold medallist Kurt Angle, ‘The Icon’ Sting and many more of the world’s most recognisable wrestlers.

TNA IMPACT WRESTLING is broadcast every Sunday night at 9pm on Challenge TV in the UK and Ireland, as well as more than 120 other countries.

Spud said: “This is a dream come true. For anyone out there who tells you that you can't, I just proved that you CAN!

“I now can't wait to hit the Impact Zone and mix it up with the best professional wrestlers in the world. I promise I'll make everyone at home in the UK proud. But I can't promise I'll keep my mouth shut while doing it.”

TNA Wrestling President Dixie Carter said: “This was a very difficult decision to make. All four Boot Camp contestants have great talent and potential and grew as both wrestlers and people throughout the series.

“They all wanted to win so badly and it took us a very long time to decide. In the end, Rockstar Spud's character and charisma tipped the balance. But all four are more than ready to be stars. It just goes to show what amazing talent there is to be discovered in the UK.”

TNA Wrestling: British Boot Camp’s Executive Producer Jeremy Borash added: “In the series, Rockstar Spud evolved before our very eyes and is a textbook example of not judging a book by it's cover. In the beginning of the series, most did not give him a chance. Yet, by the end he had won over Rollerball Rocco, Hulk Hogan, Dixie Carter and our viewers.”

Rockstar Spud, Marty Scurll and The Blossom Twins are all currently appearing on the TNA Road To Lockdown Tour of the UK and Ireland.

TNA Wrestling: British Boot Camp has been a ratings hit for Challenge TV and attracted media coverage from the BBC, ITV, Sky One, Sky News, The Sun, Daily Star, Daily Express, Daily Mirror, Guardian, Metro, TalkSPORT Radio and Cosmopolitan. Rockstar Spud is also a blogger for The Huffington Post.

- As TNA Wrestling's European tour continues Wednesday in Glasgow, Scotland, the company announced dates and venues for their 2014 tour:

TNA IMPACT WRESTLING will be returning to the UK in January and February 2014 for the MAXIMUM IMPACT VI Tour.

Currently in Britain for a string of very successful shows, TNA will return one year from now for live events in Glasgow, Manchester, London and Birmingham.

Fans can buy tickets in an exclusive one week pre-sale, starting on Monday January 28 at 9am and ending on Monday February 4 at 9pm. Prices start from £22.50, plus booking fee.

Further details about the shows will be released when tickets go on full sale later this year.

TNA Wrestling President Dixie Carter said: “Everyone knows that the UK Tour is one of the highlights of the year for everyone in TNA IMPACT WRESTLING, so I'm excited to announce that we're coming back in 2014.

“We're putting tickets on pre-sale for one week only so our most hardcore fans can beat the rush and get their seats early.

“I'm already counting down the days until we're back in Glasgow, Manchester and London - and am delighted that we're adding Birmingham to the schedule for 2014.”

John Cornwell, of Tour promoter SJM Concerts, added: “SJM is delighted with TNA IMPACT WRESTLING’s continued growth and success in the UK over the last five years.

“We very much look forward to working with TNA to build on the recent fantastic events when IMPACT WRESTLING returns for its sixth consecutive UK arena tour in 2014.”

Tickets available for a limited seven day period only, from Monday January 28 at 9am, via the TNA UK Facebook page at,, or direct from the tour venues. Full details of the UK events are:

Thursday 30 January 2014
Glasgow Hydro
0844 811 0051

Friday 31 January 2014
Manchester Arena
0844 847 8000

Saturday 01 February 2014
London Wembley Arena
0844 815 0815

Sunday 02 February 2014
Birmingham NIA
0844 338 8000

TNA IMPACT WRESTLING is broadcast every Sunday night at 9pm on Challenge TV in the UK and Ireland, as well as more than 120 other countries.

- Richardwrote early Wednesday that Christian York's profile has been removed from TNA Wrestling's official roster page, which can be seen here. As of right now, his profile is back on the website which could signify that he hasn't been released from the company.

As of right now, Kid Kash's profile hasn't been added back to the site. Assuming that this is his official Twitter account, Kash tweeted the following:

I always say to never pay much attention to TNA's roster page because it can be sketchy and confusing at times, but I wanted to follow up on the story since we wrote about it earlier. - TNA Genesis is estimated to have done between twelve and thirteen thousand buys. - Brooke Tessmacher and Christy Hemme were pulled from TNA Wrestling's shows in Glasgow, Scotland and Nottingham, England due to illness. Hemme wrote the following on Twitter:

Tessmacher wrote the following in Twitter:

Earlier on Thursday we posted an awesome photo of the ageless TNA Knockout Champion Tara on our Instagram account. Check it out and make sure to follow us at this link.

- This week's episode of Impact Wrestling did an average viewing audience of 1,570,000 viewers on Spike TV. Bellator Fighting Championships, which followed, did an average viewing audience of 812,000 viewers.


Why would TNA script Taz to join Aces & 8s? Does it make any sense if he can't wrestle?

The latest swerve in the Aces & Eights storyline is the inclusion of Taz. He's not returning to the ring but it's part of the progression of the faction. Remember the nWo had several non-wrestlers, including their own referee. The problem with Aces & 8s is a problem that faces many main event factions in that it is being overexposed.

It is a known fact that because of Jeff Hardy's past criminal conviction, he is not allowed to travel out of the country. Why then does TNA tell there European fans that the reason Jeff Hardy is not on tour, is because he is injured?

I'm under the impression Jeff Hardy was unable to obtain a visa [because of his criminal conviction] to travel overseas and join the TNA roster on their European tour. However, it's not a "known fact" as you assert, as the word I've gotten from my sources is everyone is kayfabing over it. TNA says he's injured, much like the claim was he was injured last year during the tour, but the truth is no one knows the exact reason Hardy was pulled. The fact he was advertised tells me TNA didn't feel it would be a problem.

I grew up watching wrestling, before the Internet became huge. I remember actually being surprised when storyline a played out on TV instead of on weekly spoiler alerts. Do you think the Internet has taken some of the fun away from the wrestling business and is there anything the writing team or top executives can do to keep it more secretive?

With the evolution of tablets, smart phones and the mobile web, people are more plugged in than ever before. The very purpose this website exists to peel back the curtain and give readers an insider's view of the business. With that being said, Vince McMahon takes precautions in keeping things under wraps but the only way this is possible is to keep outcomes/future storylines close to his vest. The more people that find out about it, the easier it is for us to find out. As for the access to this information "taking the fun out," you can still be kayfabed, but the very fact you are asking this question at this website says you want to know what is going on.

What's the favorite city to host Wrestlemania 30 next year?

An announcement will be made soon regarding the location of Wrestlemania 30 but the last I heard, New Orleans was the front-runner. The city emerged as the front-runner due to a tax credit that would be granted to WWE should they choose to run the show there.

Are you disappointed a lot of the Royal Rumble participants have already been announced, taking away a lot of the surprise?

I just penned an update on the participants for the 30-man Royal Rumble match as WWE still only lists 9 workers on their official entrants list. I do not believe everyone that was featured in the closing segment of WWE Raw will be in the match as they just wanted to create the Rumble atmosphere so they cleared the locker room.

Who are the favorites to win this year's Royal Rumble? Please tell me it's not John Cena.

The two names I have heard since late last year, and have reported, are Sheamus and Ryback. The plans for the 30-man Royal Rumble match were actually finalized around a month ago although the names I reported were before plans were finalized and I haven't heard any leaks since. I would love to alleviate your concerns but at this time that's all the information I have.

Have you heard any update on Rey Mysterio and his current family situation?

Rey Mysterio is dealing with a personal matter that has required him to take time off. We do not feel it's appropriate to disclose any more details other than he worked last weekend in Los Angeles.

Whatever happened to the "Legend's House" show that was supposed to air on the WWE Network? Last I heard it had started filming and was set to appear on SyFy.

WWE Legend's House wrapped about a year ago and is ready to air… the problem is there is no home for the series. WWE hoped they would be able to launch the WWE Network last year but the fact of the matter is they were unable to get clearance/distribution deals signed to get it in enough homes. Negotiations remain and the only thing we know for sure is the WWE Network will be a paid subscription model. I posted an extensive update here on Premium on Friday. If you are not yet a Premium Member you can signup now at this link.

Can we get an update on Christian? Is he still injured or could he possibly return at the Royal Rumble?

The last update I heard on Christian was he was targeting a return to WWE at the end of January. Obviously he'll be someone that people will speculate as a surprise Royal Rumble entrant but that's nothing more than obvious speculation.

Do you see Shane McMahon returning to WWE?

Shane McMahon has found success outside of WWE as he is the Chief Executive Officer of You On Demand. The company is publicly traded and you can find out more information here on Google Finance. As for Shane returning to WWE, anything is possible, but I don't really see it happening. Vince McMahon is grooming Triple H as his successor where he, along with Stephanie, will run the company. Shane admitted that his decision to leave WWE strained his relationship with his father but I admire him for having the courage to do it.

With Undertaker nearing the end of his career, is there any chance CM Punk can end "the streak" this year if the rumored match does take place?

This question requires a brief unpacking. The current plan is for Undertaker to defend his undefeated streak at Wrestlemania 29 this year. CM Punk has been mentioned as a rumored opponent but we do not have confirmation on that as of this writing. As for the question, there's always a chance but I'm against any scenario of "the streak" ending and feel Undertaker deserves the right to retire undefeated at Wrestlemania. Feel free to debate this on both sides in the comment area below. Is there a scenario you see that would benefit from Undertaker losing at Wrestlemania?

Do you see Brock Lesnar returning at the Royal Rumble (as a non-entrant) and costing Ryback a chance to win, setting up a match between the two at Wrestlemania?

Booking Brock Lesnar vs. Ryback would be more impossible than the already impossible situations they've put Ryback in with CM Punk. I would not favor this bout and can tell you it's not the current plan for Ryback at Wrestlemania this year. We do have the prosed plan here on As for Lesnar returning to WWE at Royal Rumble, it's possible but I'm not sure the company would be in favor of burning through one of Lesnar's dates without advertising it. The Rock and CM Punk is what WWE is banking on to sell Royal Rumble so there doesn't seem much of a payoff in bringing Lesnar back on Sunday night.

How legit is The Rock's injury?

The Rock's claim of "internal bleeding" is a work. He may have suffered a cut in the inside of his mouth (I haven't heard for sure), but he wasn't seriously injured by The Shield.

Are the TNA Gut Check judging segments legitimate, a work or both?

Those that have participated in TNA Gut Check, namely Christian York, claim the segment is 100% legitimate. I haven't heard/asked so I guess we can take it for it's worth.

What does the WWE Hall of Fame mean to an inductee and what benefits do they get?

In addition to monetary compensation for appearing, WWE Hall of Fame inductees get a Hall of Fame ring and of course the immortalization of being inducted into the Hall of Fame of the biggest wrestling promotion in the world. While critics will rightly point out the WWE Hall of Fame is more of the Vince McMahon Hall of Fame than an actual Hall of Fame (with no formal voting process), it's still a huge honor.

Are you as sick of The Rock as I am? CM Punk's character is stale but still better than Rock. Your thoughts on the Royal Rumble main event?

If you haven't enjoyed the mic work of The Rock and CM Punk, especially on the January 7th episode of WWE Raw, you are probably going to impossible to please. When I get questions like this I don't want to say you can't have an opinion because obviously everyone has one and is entitled to espouse it, but what exactly are your expectations? Which workers do you feel are doing a better job on the mic currently? Please explain below because there's no other way I can address this.

What happened to John Cena on Monday? I understand he's the face of WWE (whether he wants to admit it or not) but it was a very "interesting" attempt at trying to sell Royal Rumble.

John Cena clearly had a bad night on Monday, delivering a horrible promo to close this week's Raw. I've agreed with many of you in that Cena's character is often over-the-top at times, but this was a promo that had many talking about how he got lost in the middle of it. The feeling is Royal Rumble will still sell because of The Rock working CM Punk on Sunday.

With the majority of the WWE Universe assuming The Rock will go over CM Punk on Sunday, how would you react to a swerve?

The first swerve that comes to mind would be for The Shield to cost CM Punk the WWE Championship but that is nothing more than speculation on my part. I haven't heard the creative plan for Sunday's WWE Championship match but that I feel it's necessary for The Rock to win the WWE Championship so he can defend it at Wrestlemania. Not putting the title on The Rock on Sunday would be a mistake. It's going to be more difficult with the WWE Champion working a part-time schedule, but live events will be hurt more than TVs due to Rock's insane schedule.

Who are your top three choices to win the Royal Rumble?

In no particular order I am picking John Cena, Sheamus and Ryback based on potential Wrestlemania matches. Jim Ross picked Cena or "someone like Dolph Ziggler" but I don't see the purpose in putting Ziggler over because he already has a title shot with the Money in the Bank briefcase. Fans probably wouldn't like Sheamus winning two years in a row but it would give him a bump at a time when he has to take a backseat to the part-timers. The same goes for Ryback, who could use the victory after some questionable booking in recent months.

With the TNA lawsuit over and his contract coming up soon, is there any chance Jeff Hardy returns to WWE?

I can confirm that WWE is aware of Jeff Hardy's contract status and they have sent out feelers to gauge his interest. I penned in an article on Richard's Backstage Blog earlier this week about WWE targeting the current TNA Champion. Back to Hardy's contract status, we detailed TNA's proposed deal here as there was a hang-up on an option for a third year. TNA wanted to sign him to a deal that would be two years guaranteed with a company option for a third year but Hardy was holding out. This was at a time when the lawsuit was ongoing so Hardy's power for negotiation is back. It will be interesting to see if he attempts to return to WWE or re-signs with TNA.

With the recent news of WWE eliminating separate Raw and Smackdown live events and Smackdown's deal with SyFy up this fall, what's the possibility of WWE ending Smackdown?

Vince McMahon knows the risk of SyFy not renewing Smackdown, which is one of the reasons why he is pushing so hard for the WWE Network. The company is content with their current television deals but do not want to be reliant on them should they not be renewed. Many observers feel the WWE Network is going to need a first-run show to spark the interest of subscribers, so as long as the WWE Network has clearance, it won't be a major problem. No one is thinking of ending Smackdown and the last I heard they are hoping to agree to a new deal with SyFy. As for the touring schedule, WWE likes the continuity between television and they want to reflect that on the road. They are looking for a name change for live events, which I guess could reflect a TV name change, but it’s one of those things we’ll have to wait and see.

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