McMahon's Bizarre Reaction To NXT, TNA Star To WWE In '15, Daniel Bryan's Clearance

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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, December 27, 2014 to Friday, January 2, 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
- Premium Mailbag

WWE News

- It was announced at Friday’s WWE live event from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, IL (billed in Chicago) that Extreme Rules 2015 will emanate from the venue. There is currently a presale ongoing to obtain tickets using the password EXTREME.

- Randy Orton, who has been out since early November, returned to WWE on Friday at the company’s holiday live event in New York City. He went over Kane in a match where he was the babyface.

- Wade Barrett, who has been out since June, appeared at Friday’s WWE live event in Chicago, Illinois in his ring gear. The bad news was he could think of better cities to return in and did not wrestle.

- Adam Rose comments on his “new attitude” after beating R-Truth on this week’s episode of Smackdown in the latest Smackdown Fallout. You can watch at this link. While kayfabe, WWE is clearly tweaking the gimmick in attempt to draw a stronger connection with the audience. WWE officials have admitted the gimmick has not gotten over how they hoped when they called him up from NXT.

- Kevin Nash was unable to make his booking with Maryland Championship Wrestling on Saturday night due to a family medical emergency having to do with his son. Mick Foley replaced Nash on the show.

Below is the official announcement from Maryland Championship Wrestling on Facebook:

Nash and his 18 year old son Tristen have been in the news since separate domestic disputes on Christmas Eve. As a result, Nash was suspended from his WWE Legends contract.

- WWE announced at the beginning of Saturday's live event in Uniondale, New York that Randy Orton would not be competing as advertised due to an injury he suffered at Friday's live event in New York City. As a result, John Cena would face Kane and Seth Rollins in a 2-on-1 handicap match in the show's main event.

Orton, who was at the show, ended up doing a run-in to assist Cena, allowing for him to pick up the victory.

Here's a photo he Tweeted prior to the show:

Orton returned to WWE for the first time since early November on Friday night as he's been filming the starring role in the WWE Studios production The Condemned 2. We detailed Orton's return here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com. - We’ve received a lot of emails inquiring about the status of Brock Lesnar. As far as I know, Brock’s status has not changed. He’s under WWE contract through Raw after Wrestlemania 31 and will become a free agent. Lesnar is expected to have offers from WWE, UFC and Bellator MMA and wants to explore his “free agency.” While the assumption is if Brock returns to fighting it will be for UFC, we’re told Bellator is preparing a massive offer because they’re upset they missed out on CM Punk (as they were under the assumption he wasn't seriously considering MMA). Bellator are also interested in former WWE star Alberto Del Rio. If Brock continues to be intent on exploring offers, WWE will have to book him at Wrestlemania 31 without knowing whether or not he’ll re-sign with them. - Eden Stiles shares her holiday traditions in her latest video blog. You can watch at this link. - The one hour version of WWE Tribute to the Troops 2014 that aired Saturday night did an average viewing audience of 1,550,000 viewers on NBC. The show garnered a 0.4 adults 18-49 rating, which was down 33 percent from the 0.6 adults 18-49 rating the special did in a comparable timeslot last year. TV by the Numbers has more data at this link. - Emma Tweeted the following from her verified Twitter account: Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

As we noted in our #WWEHershey live report, Emma took a bad bump on the apron during the bout with Alicia Fox against The Bella Twins.

Emma also Tweeted out some Diva selfies that you can view below:

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

- Kevin Nash has been pulled from local and official show information for the January 19, 2015 episode of Monday Night Raw. Nash, along with Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan and Scott Hall, had been advertised for the show from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The rest of the nWo in addition to HBK are still advertised to appear on the go-home to Royal Rumble broadcast. WWEannounced last week that Nash’s legends contract has been suspended until his domestic dispute is resolved. For those that missed it, there was an incident involving Nash and his 18 year old son on Christmas Eve that resulted in his arrest. CLICK HERE for more information. - b>Hulk Hogan Tweeted on Friday that he can’t wait to start training with rapper Riff Raff. You can read the Tweet from his verified account below: Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

The following video was posted on Raff’s Instagram:

- Daniel Bryan Tweeted the following from his verified Twitter account on Monday evening:

"Everyone comes to a crossroads in their life and I've come to mine. I look forward to telling you all about it tonight on #Raw."

Below is the post in its original format: Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

It's unknown what Bryan is talking about, however, the announcement will obviously lead to speculation about his future. Daniel Bryan has been out since May, rehabbing a nerve injury that resulted in him being stripped of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Bryan underwent a procedure known as a cervical foraminotomy to decompress the nerve root on Thursday, May 15, 2014. The surgery was performed by Dr. Joseph Maroon in Pittsburgh, PA but his rehabilitation was slowed when he failed to regain the strength in his right hand.

In regards to the announcement on Raw, I'm told it's confirmed on the big board that he has a segment on the show but people were surprised of his inclusion.

- Brock Lesnar is featured in a new commercial for Hardees to promote their new Bacon Velveeta Patty Meltdown. You can watch it at this link.

- WWE is running a holiday live event opposite of Raw in Richmond, Virginia. Talent advertised for the live event are as follows - Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, The Usos, Gold and Stardust. I wouldn’t expect any of these names to appear on Raw

- Wade Barrett is expected to return on Raw from Washington, DC.

- The Usos beat The Miz and Damien Mizdow to capture the WWE Tag Team Championships for the second time on this week's Raw. The Miz and Mizdow captured the titles in November at Survivor Series. The Usos first won the titles in March of this year. Stay tuned to WrestlingNewsWorld.com for the latest Raw news and results.

- Daniel Bryan announced on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw that he will make his in-ring return in the 2015 Royal Rumble match at the pay-per-view next month.

Bryan has been out since early May after undergoing a procedure known as a cervical foraminotomy to decompress the nerve root on Thursday, May 15, 2014. The surgery was performed by Dr. Joseph Maroon in Pittsburgh, PA but his rehabilitation was slowed when he failed to regain the strength in his right hand.

He Tweeted on Monday afternoon that he had come to a crossroads and would make an announcement on Raw. Below is the Tweet:

Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

Due to nature of the announcement, I provided live coverage. You can read a complete recap of Bryan's announcement below:

Daniel Bryan comes out to a big pop and JBL declares, "he's back." The crowd greets him with a Yes chant and Lilian Garcia introduces him. Michael Cole plugs the hashtag #YesYesYes. Bryan says it's an honor to be here for the last Raw of 2014. He said it's always an honor to be in this ring, every single time. Who would have thought a small kid from Aberdeen, Washington that was always labeled a B+ player could have main evented Wrestlemania? Nobody except for you guys. Daniel Bryan said thanks to the fans, he got the opportunity to beat Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton all in one night to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in front of 70,000 fans. He said he can never repay the fans for that. Five days after that he married the woman of his dreams and that was the best week of his life. Bryan said then everything changed. When they got back from their honeymoon, his dad died. He wasn't there for him because he was wrestling. A month after that, he had a career changing injury. All he could do was sit in front of his TV screen and watch. In tears, Bryan said wrestling was the only thing that could take the pain away. This is all he's wanted his entire life - performing in front of the fans. He said no one cheered louder then he did when Dolph Ziggler pinned Seth Rollins and sent The Authority out of power [at Survivor Series]. It hurt because he couldn't be there. He said the doctors had no answers. He even called Edge, who knows a thing about career-ending injuries. Bryan said you get to a time when you have to make a decision whether all of this is worth it or not. He said because the fans have supported him his entire career, he requested he make the announcement in front of everyone. Is my career over? Bryan declares no! He said that is not the announcement he came to make. He is ready to fight, ready to compete. Daniel Bryan announces he will be in the 2015 Royal Rumble!

I spoke with numerous sources prior to Bryan making the announcement, who didn't know what Bryan was going to say, but all hoped this is what the announcement would be. No one was expecting Bryan at Raw, however, a talking segment was confirmed on the big board hours before WWE went live on the USA Network. Royal Rumble 2015 will be Bryan's first match since May 5, 2014 when he faced Alberto Del Rio on an episode of Raw. Royal Rumble will take place on Sunday, January 25, 2015 from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. WWE officials remained hopeful Bryan would be cleared by Wrestlemania 31 in March, which was evident when they included him in promotional material in November. Bryan announced a return timetable of January in a promotional interview we covered at this link. - Bad News Barrett returned to action on this week's Raw and went over Cesaro. It appears Barrett is working as a babyface as of now. - It was announced that we will see Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt in an Ambulance Match next week on Raw. - As the storyline goes, John Cena brought back The Authority at the end of this week's Raw. Seth Rollins was a guest on Edge and Christian's Cutting Edge Peep Show. Rollins and Big Show "attacked" Edge and Christian. Edge was held down and Rollins threatened to hit Edge with the Curb Stomp if Cena did not bring back The Authority. Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon came out on the stage to end the show. Richard Tweeted a photo after the segment that you can view below:

- In this week’s Raw Fallout, Daniel Bryan speaks on his return and when he knew he'd be returning to the ring, The Usos celebrate their title win, and Bad News Barrett gives his reactions to his return as well. In addition, Dolph Ziggler, Paige & Cesaro give their thoughts on the return of The Authority. The videos are embedded below:

Daniel Bryan's Emotional Comeback
The Authority Returns
Usos Back On Top
Bad News Is Back

- Randy Orton was at Raw but obviously wasn’t used on television. He did appear when cameras stopped filming. After Raw went off the air, Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble, along with Big Show and Seth Rollins, came back out to beat up on John Cena. Orton made the save and got a big pop before celebrating with Cena to send the crowd home happy.

- For those that missed it on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw, Daniel Bryan announced he is medically cleared to compete and will make his in-ring return in the 30-man Royal Rumble match at the pay-per-view next month.

Read: Daniel Bryan To Return In 2015 Royal Rumble Match

You can watch highlights of Bryan’s announcement on Raw at this link.

If Bryan is healthy, the best creative plan is to put him over in the Rumble match and have him face and defeat Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 31. I could write thousands of words proving why this should be but it almost goes without saying. Bryan was primed to take the brass ring and become the next “face of WWE” before neck/nerve injuries sidelined him for more than half of 2014.

WWE has a golden opportunity to pass the torch from Brock to Bryan and it’s better than any other scenario and that includes Roman Reigns. While Reigns has the potential to be “the guy,” Daniel Bryan has proved superiority and this opportunity is a no-brainer. Not only will Bryan over Brock give him the burning torch going forward but it will also tell the story of total redemption and correct the error at this year’s Royal Rumble.

Royal Rumble 2015 will take place Sunday, January 25, 2015 from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. We’ll have complete coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.

- The promo that Bray Wyatt cut from the ambulance that aired on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw was filmed last week in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as we first reported here at Wrestling News World.

A fan actually saw WWE film the angle and reported that Bray was taken from Raw in an ambulance. While technically that is what happened, it was kayfabe to promote next week’s Ambulance Match against Dean Ambrose.

I Tweeted out the following promotional graphic:

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

Next week’s Monday Night Raw will emanate from the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, TX. We’ll have complete coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com. - Mark Henry — who hasn’t worked since the November 24, 2014 episode of Raw — confirmed Tuesday on his verified Twitter account that he’s dealing with an injury. The following is from Twitter: Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

- WWE Extreme Rules 2015 will take place Sunday, April 26, 2015 from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois (billed from Chicago). WWE announced on Tuesday that tickets will go on sale on Saturday, January 10. There should be a presale earlier that week. You can read official details by dot com at this link.

- The Miz and Damien Mizdow demonstrate how to react to receiving crappy holiday gifts in a new Lesson of The Miz’s School of Performance. You can watch at this link.

- Daniel Bryan has been cleared to wrestle and barring something happening at Royal Rumble ‘15, he’s back in the plans for Wrestlemania 31. This will likely have a ripple effect throughout the card as WWE will look to properly utilize him although I have already thrown my two cents in.

As for Bryan’s return, no one knew what he was going to say this week at Raw. It was only learned he was even going to be at the show in the hours before he announced to the world on Twitter that he was going to make a “crossroads” announcement. Very little has been known about his injury status, so WWE wanted Bryan to Tweet about his appearance to 1) draw the viewer in and 2) create legitimate suspense about what he was going to say.

There are, however, two glaring issues with the way this was done. First, since there aren’t plans for him to work between now and the pay-per-view, it probably would have been better for him to return as a surprise Rumble entrant. This would have assured a massive pop and not caused a big letdown if he doesn’t win it. The other problem is it will be next to impossible to keep Bryan hot before the pay-per-view, as it’ll be a month before it happens.

All kinds of rumors were swirling throughout the locker room before Bryan got the microphone on TV but the majority of people that I spoke with are happy that Bryan is going to get the chance to continue his career in WWE.

- Eyebrows were raised as to why WWE “seemingly tossed together” Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins for TV and never followed the build for what the match should have been. The lack of reaction Reigns is drawing is past the point of concern and we’re told it could impact his status. As noted, with Bryan back in the plans for Wrestlemania 31, it will surely have a ripple effect throughout the card.

- Brock Lesnar’s booking was described to me as nothing short of awful with one observer calling him a statue in the final segment. It’s not that Brock doesn’t have appearances on his contract, because he does, the problem is they have no idea what to do with him. Brock holding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was supposed to bring credibility back to the title but outside of programs with Triple H and CM Punk, he’s only feuded with John Cena in nearly three years. Vince McMahon and Hunter are at the opposite ends of the spectrum in regards to Brock. Vince wants to resign him and do the biggest match possible at Wrestlemania, while people close to Triple H believe he wants Brock to “pass the torch” and move on. It’s no secret that Hunter has handpicked Roman Reigns to be that guy but Vince isn’t sold. Vince sees Brock ending “the streak” as a huge deal and whoever beats him will have a permanent correlation to The Undertaker.

- The on-screen return of The Authority was moved up and while many are against doing Triple H vs. Sting at Wrestlemania 31, it appears to be the current direction. The suggestion is that Hunter will face Sting with Hunter representing The Authority and Sting representing Vince for “control of WWE.” Remember a similar idea (just not involving Sting) was pitched for the show this year.

- Randy Orton was at TV as noted but they didn’t use him because they’re not sure what to do with him.

- Dolph Ziggler’s stock is back on the rise and him receiving protection against Rusev was telling. A couple of months ago he would have went under clean.

- I talked about Cesaro in Tuesday’s Ask WNW but his promo was seen as a real disappointment. His booking is suspect but he did himself no favors on Raw.

- The idea of creating a humble and hardworking Ryback is all part of his reboot and if Raw was any indication, it’s working.

- Konnor and Viktor, known collectively as The Ascension, have been on the shortlist for a main roster call-up for months and both received negative marks this week for appearing out of shape.

- WWE officials know Damien Sandow will do fine on his own but they want to squeeze everything they can out of the Mizdow stunt double gimmick.

- We didn’t hear of any injuries other than R-Truth nursing his back after working the match taped for WWE Superstars. It’s unknown if this is something new or just wear and tear.

- Last week’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw was the most talked-about TV show on Twitter. The show generated 123,000 tweets, which reached 1.6 million users. The December 26, 2014 episode of Smackdown came in at No. 9 on the chart. TV by the Numbers has more data available at this link.

- The Flagship out of Norfolk, Virginia has an article online featuring quotes from Jimmy Uso. In it, he discusses the removal of himself and Naomi from the Total Divas reality show.

Below is an excerpt:

With the recent news that neither you nor Trinity will be involved in the next season of the Total Divas series, is there some relief knowing that you will not have cameras on you at all times?

Jimmy Uso: The work is a lot less now. I almost get to have my privacy back. We come off of these tours and you want to get home and relax, but you’re still working because you’re front of these cameras. They’re in your home and you really just want to sleep all day. I’m OK with it, but my wife really isn’t. We didn’t agree with the terms, but things happen and they work out how they do. We’re enjoying the free time that we have now.

Totals Divas has exposed you to a different demographic of viewers that may not have normally watched WWE programming. Have you noticed this while out in the public?

Jimmy Uso: Definitely. I get recognized more from Total Divas than I do for WWE. With my wife, you get people that look at her and want a picture, but they’re not really sure if it’s her or not, but when we’re together, they automatically know. I get a lot of older women, actually, that come up to me. They’re like “Hey! You’re Jonathan from Total Divas!” out of nowhere. You’ll know that it’s a Total Divas fan because a WWE fan would have said “Uso!”. It was weird at first being called by my first name and my wife by her first name. It’s cool, and funny in a way.

CLICK HERE to read the article in its entirety.

- Last week’s episode of WWE Smackdown garnered an average viewing audience of 2,490,000 viewers on SyFy. For those that missed the show after Christmas, we have complete results at this link.

- Renee Young interviewed Daniel Bryan backstage at Monday Night Raw to discuss his medical clearance. Below is a complete recap:

  • Bryan said it wasn’t his intention to make people think the wrong things [with his crossroads announcement on Raw]. He wanted to go out in front of the people - the reason he’s here today - to tell them he’s ready to come back
  • He doesn’t know life without this and it’s a hard realization to make when you face the circumstances that he did.
  • Bryan said the doctors didn’t know what to do and thought he might not be able to come back. He said this wave of emotions is how he’s dealt with pain his entire life. Wrestling is how he has dealt with pain. Bryan said he’s thrilled to come back because this is what he loves to do.
  • When Renee asked Bryan what was his and Brie’s reaction to the news that he was cleared to come back - Bryan said his initial reaction was disbelief. He said they’d gone through so many struggles and so many hurdles as far as getting cleared with doctors not knowing what’s going on. He said there was so much confusion then all of the sudden he saw a “guy in Denver.” Bryan said he knew how to fix it and they didn’t believe it at first.
  • Bryan said it was for real. When the doctors told him he was clear - nobody wants to see his happy dance - but he’s going to have to wait if he wins the Royal Rumble and main events Wrestlemania, then he’ll do it.

You can watch the view at this link.

- This week’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw did an average viewing audience of 3,458,667 viewers on the USA Network. Below is how the show did each hour:

Hour one - 3,174,000 viewers
Hour two - 3,476,000 viewers
Hour three - 3,726,000 viewers

This was the lowest average viewing audience for Raw for all of 2014. A good sign — and an opposite trend from what we usually see — is that the broadcast gained 552,000 viewers from hour one to hour three.

As for the possible culprit of where the audience was, college football games on ESPN drew 4,896,000 viewers at 6 PM EST and 5,758,000 viewers on at 9 PM EST. There was no Monday Night Football as that series has concluded until next fall.

Raw was still Monday’s highest-rated non football program, scoring a 1.3 adults 18-49 rating, which was even from last week.

TV by the Numbers has complete data for the top 100 cable shows in adults 25-54 for the whole day at this link.

- Sources have indicated to Wrestling News World that Vince McMahon has been “very grumpy” lately and doesn’t like the perception that NXT is putting on better shows than the main roster.

We’re told it’s resulted in a strange situation where NXT’s purpose is to get guys ready for the main roster, but now Vince is souring on them before they ever get called up. This because Vince is being “very dismissive” of NXT’s success and believes a lot of the workers are overrated.

Richard Reacts: I understand the idea of Vince not liking his "developmental" workers outshining his main roster workers but instead of dismissing the success, why not learn from it? Why are the NXT shows better and what can be done to the main roster shows to put them on the same level? That's how I would look at it. There is no getting around the fact that NXT TakeOver: R Evolution was a much better show than WWE TLC.

- For those that missed it on this week’s episode of WWE Main Event, Edge and Christian have “filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against WWE” as the result of what Seth Rollins and Big Show did to them on Raw. An update was teased on Smackdown.

Below is coverage from dot com regarding the storyline:

NORFOLK, Va. — An almost New Year's Eve episode of WWE Main Event kicked off with a visit from WWE Hall of Famer Edge & Christian, who aren’t taking Seth Rollins and Big Show’s actions against Edge on Raw lightly. The duo have filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against WWE! The final night of in-ring action in 2014 culminated with an exciting tag team bout pitting new WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos against Gold & Stardust.

CLICK HERE for Main Event coverage on dot com.

CLICK HERE for Main Event coverage on WNW.

- Dolph Ziggler, Renee Young and many others make predictions for the 2015 in the latest episode of WWE Inbox. You can watch at this link.

- Dean Ambrose is featured in this week’s sit-down kayfabe interview with Michael Cole. In it, he teases the end of his program with Bray Wyatt in the Ambulance Match on next week’s episode of Monday Night Raw.

Regarding the return of The Authority, Ambrose said that it sucks. He asked Cole if he thought it was a bummer but Cole didn’t respond. Ambrose said anyone who doesn’t kiss The Authority’s ass, they do everything they can to step on them.

You can watch this week’s interview at this link.

- Former TNA star Crimson — whose real name is Tommy Mercer — impressed WWE officials at a recent tryout and is expected to land a developmental contract. Our source said he wasn’t promised a job but one is expected in a few months. In fact, April is when WWE intends to sign him. The reason for the delayed signing is the company is expected to make some cuts right after Wrestlemania 31, before signing some talent on their radar, which includes Crimson.

- WWE has officially announced that first run episodes of WWE NXT will now air on Wednesdays at 8 PM EST on the WWE Network beginning on Wednesday, January 14, 2015. This is being done to keep the show from competing with Smackdown, which will move back to Thursday nights on SyFy beginning on January 16, 2015.

- We are able to confirm reports that Jerry Lawler has been hospitalized due to complications from diverticulitis. No other information has been made available but he should currently be considered questionable for next week's Monday Night Raw in Corpus Christi, Texas.

- In the latest episode of The JBL (Not Cole) Show, JBL and Renee Young brainstorm fresh ideas for the series. You can watch at this link.

Other News

- TNA Wrestling has made a significant offer to Alberto Del Rio — who is now working as Alberto el Patron.

We’re told Destination America has even agreed to kick in some of the money towards his contract. In fact, TNA has already increased their offer and made him “the Sting deal” with a contract worth $500,000 per year for a very light schedule.

So far, Del Rio doesn’t appear interested. The contract isn’t anywhere near the offers Del Rio is getting to do MMA, not to mention the money he’s making internationally, from indies, Ring of Honor, etc.

Richard Reacts: When I hear stuff like this I just want to bang my head into a wall. $500K for Alberto Del Rio? What am I missing? Del Rio is a fine talent and has some ability to draw on his own but $500K? Can they offer that to AJ Styles? I really want TNA's reset on Destination America to work but it's stuff like this that has me pessimistic.

- TNA Wrestling announced that next year’s Lockdown pay-per-view will move to cable television and will air as a themed episode of Impact on Destination America. The show — featuring all matches in the six-sides of steel — will be taped on Friday, January 9, 2015 from the Manhattan Center in New York City.

Below are main promotional points for the first episodes of Impact on Destination America:

Live on Wednesday, January 7 on Destination America: Bobby Roode vs. Bobby Lashley III for the TNA Championship

Thursday, January 8: The Wolves vs. The Hardys

Friday, January 9: Lockdown episode of Impact Wrestling

CLICK HERE for more on the official TNA website.

- It’s now confirmed that CM Punk will prepare for his UFC debut at Roufusport with MMA notables in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Among the people that Punk will be training with is Anthony Pettis and his team.

Punk remains a polarizing figure even after his controversial WWE departure. Check out Nate Diaz’s response to the signing in a video posted here by MMAJunkie.com. Diaz called the signing a downgrade to all the fighters but noted Punk will draw well for UFC. We've got the footage below:

- TNA Wrestling has finalized their roster for their reset on Destination America in 2015. On Wednesday, after announcing the re-signing of Kurt Angle, have also announced the re-signing of Ethan Carter III and Abyss.

- With Brittany finished with TNA Wrestling, there are no plans right now for Sam Shaw.

The creative team was caught very off guard by the departure of Brittany and TNA was very high on her work with Shaw. Brittany was one of the wrestlers told they needed to sign by December 1 and only given a couple days to look over their contract. Brittany and TNA weren't able to get a deal done in time.

With TNA not running house shows initially, they really don't need the full roster they had before. Some of the people leaving TNA would definitely be interested in bringing back later next year if they're able to get some semblance of a house show schedule off the ground.

- We’re hearing that TNA did not offer a contract to Havok due to issues involving her weight. What’s interesting is that she continues to promote the Impact Wrestling reset on Destination America on her Twitter account, so I’m unsure if something has changed. However, I was told a couple of weeks ago she wasn’t in the plans at that time and that TNA wanted her in better shape.

- TNA Wrestling has announced that Jessie Godderz has re-signed with the company. He Tweeted the following about the announcement:

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

Godderz joins Kurt Angle, Abyss and Ethan Carter III as talent that have re-signed. We have some exclusive notes on TNA talent for the Destination America reset at this link. Alex Barie made some other notes here at TNANews.com. - TNA Wrestling announced they have re-signed Ken Anderson as part of their reset on Destination America. Below is the Tweet from ”Big” John Gaburick: Click here to load Photo/Tweet (if not loaded)

Anderson joins Jessie Godderz, Kurt Angle, Abyss and Ethan Carter III as talent that TNA has re-signed for their reset on their new network.

- Add Madison Rayne to the list of talent that has re-signed with TNA Wrestling as the announcement was made Friday on Twitter.

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

Rayne joins Kurt Angle, Ethan Carter III, Jessie Godderz, Abyss and Mr. Anderson as names that have re-signed contract with TNA to be part of their reset on Destination America.

Ask WNW

With the possibility of Brock Lesnar leaving after Wrestlemania 31 and seeing how Lesnar has hardly been on TV or even defended the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, do you believe his reign as champion has done more harm then good for the company in general? It seems as if morale has been at a very low point and when you have guys like Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins putting on some of the best stuff of not only the past few months but possibly for their careers are not able to get a chance to even in the WWE Championship picture.

I have harped on this for months and our readership is split around 70/30 where 70 percent agree the Brock Lesnar WWE World Heavyweight Championship reign hasn’t worked, with 30 percent saying it has worked. The interesting thing is both points are made using the same argument.

Brock Lesnar as WWE World Heavyweight Champion has resulted in more TV time and opportunities for talent like Dolph Ziggler, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, etc. However, I agree with you, in that those opportunities could have been a lot better if there was actually a WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture included. It feels like WWE used those workers more as “stopgaps” before Brock Lesnar came back, rather than developing new main event talent to take the brass ring.

Obviously, time will tell the full story but there is no denying the main event of Royal Rumble is Brock vs. Cena. So guys like Ziggler, Ambrose, Rollins (barring a surprise cash in, which is still taking a backseat in all the promo material), Wyatt, etc. will once again take a backseat for a match that I believe has minimal interest.

Therefore, the absence of Brock Lesnar and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship has created opportunities but I’m having a hard time seeing any real change as a result. We’re only left to wonder what Royal Rumble would look like if WWE had actually put the belt on Rollins at Night of Champions and had some of the “up and comers” chase him for it.

As for Brock possibly leaving WWE after Wrestlemania, I don’t think it matters if he leaves. He’s ended the streak and captured the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. WWE has capitalized on his ability to draw for what will be three years. What’s left?

The smartest thing WWE can do is use Lesnar to “pass the torch” at Wrestlemania 31. I don’t care if it’s Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins. Dean Ambrose or Bray Wyatt. WWE has to use Brock to pass the torch. It shouldn’t be an established talent like John Cena or Randy Orton, it needs to be an “up and comer.”

However, this will not be easy. The way WWE has booked Lesnar vs. Cena (except for when they fed Brock to Cena at Extreme Rules 2012), Brock appears unstoppable. How can WWE tell the story that if Cena can’t do it someone else can? That’s the quandary and it’s a result of hot-shot booking without a long-term plan in place.

Why would WWE have Randy Orton return at a live show rather than Raw? I mean don't get me wrong loved seeing him come out to help John Cena win but wouldn't that of been a better story line if he did the run in on a show that aired?

WWE wanted to use the return of Randy Orton to bolster their holiday live event tour, kicking it off in their Mecca that is Madison Square Garden. What they did on Saturday — announcing he was injured and then him saving John Cena in the main event — was likely to garner another big surprise pop for him. WWE wants to give the feeling “anything can happen” even though the shows are not televised so that’s why Orton returned there rather than TV.

Do you think WWE could produce an hour long weekly show based on the Divas to help showcase the Divas division better than giving them two minute matches on main shows each week?

They already do - it’s called Total Divas and it airs Sunday nights on E. I know this probably isn’t the answer you wanted — you likely meant a show heavy on in-ring action — but the fact is, Total Divas is how WWE views their female talent. They use their Divas to promote “drama” and “personal relationships” and “sex appeal” over in-ring talent.

Charlotte — WWE NXT Women’s Champion — is coming off some phenomenal matches at NXT special events but how has she been booked on main roster live events? In forgettable Santa’s Helpers tag matches. That tells you all you need to know about how WWE views Divas. Until a philosophical change is made as to how WWE pushes their female talent, Total Divas is how it is.

WWE has the capabilities to produce any kind of show they want, especially with the evolution of the WWE Network. For now, WWE NXT is the series catered to fans that enjoy athletic in-ring action.

Do you believe WWE will turn Adam Rose back into Leo Kruger at some point?

WWE officials have admitted failure with the Adam Rose gimmick but they’re not giving up yet. Last week’s episode of Smackdown proved that and I recapped the tweak at this link. As people that commented mentioned, that Adam Rose isn’t far from Leo Kruger so perhaps WWE is grasping at the former gimmick to try and save Adam Rose. This serves as a further reminder that what works in Florida doesn’t always work on the main roster.

From the Ask WNW vault…

April 2014: Does WWE Wellness test their referees? - Yes, the referees are subject to Wellness testing in WWE. Senior official Mike Chioda was suspended under the WWE Wellness policy on August 15, 2011 and is the only referee to be suspended for a test failure. He returned immediately after his suspension the next month. It’s been several months since WWE had a Wellness test suspension as the last on record is the suspension of Ricardo Rodriguez on July 2, 2013. We have details on every WWE Wellness suspension since November 1, 2007 at this link.

With The Authority off of our screens for just 5 weeks, does this make the whole Survivor Series angle a bait-and-switch?

I didn’t like the way WWE reintroduced The Authority on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. Also if I remember correctly, didn’t Vince McMahon say Stephanie and Triple H would be stuck to desk jobs in Stamford if they were removed from power? Regardless of the logic gap, bringing The Authority back just over a month from their removal does seem to nullify the stipulation at Survivor Series. We can all speculate that WWE wants Hunter back on TV to program him with Sting at Wrestlemania 31, as the groundwork has clearly been laid, but did they have to do it this soon?

I also didn’t like how Seth Rollins was “holding Edge hostage” in the ring, only for Cena to “whisper The Authority’s reinstatement.” Hopefully WWE develops it more but I feel bringing The Authority back now is too soon and it was poorly executed. I continue to be impressed with the work of Seth Rollins, but once again, holding Edge hostage didn’t seem effective or believable.

My biggest gripe with the booking of the The Authority has been their insurmountable power, with little to nothing being able to stop them. Their quick "reinstatement" highlights that gripe in the biggest way possible.

What were your thoughts on Ryback’s promo on Raw following the nostalgic video package?

The Ryback reboot is going great and I believe he really helped himself on this week’s Monday Night Raw. This is a very clear example of good booking vs. bad booking. Ryback was greener a couple of years ago but I believe he could have gotten over at this level then if only he would have been given a little support. WWE seemed intent on damaging the Ryback character when they first pushed it in 2012 and now, we’re seeing what they should have been doing all along.

If WWE puts Ryback over Rusev it will be a huge rub but I believe Ryback has helped himself and proved a lot of doubters wrong. It’s a good story and he seems to be doing a lot better this time around. There will continue to be people that dislike Ryback for whatever reason but he appears to have turned a corner.

What were your thoughts on Cesaro’s promo on this week’s Raw?

I put the Ryback and Cesaro questions back-to-back for a reason. Talk about two workers going in opposite directions, Cesaro bombed in his promo prior to putting a returning Wade Barrett over. I can’t explain it but let’s be clear, WWE creative has done him no favors. His babyface turn was half-done, they tried to force him as a heel with Paul Heyman and they’ve never consistently got behind his character. I don’t understand why this is so hard to figure out. Start/stop booking doesn’t work and always does damage. Just like when they had Ryback mow through jobbers, only to continuously lose to CM Punk, there has been no confidence in Cesaro. It’s now to a point where I believe he’s trying too hard and it’s just not working. My thoughts on Cesaro’s promo? It wasn’t good.

What is a WWE Legends Contract?

This question is likely the result of it being reported that Kevin Nash has been suspended from his WWE Legends Contract until his domestic dispute is resolved. A Legends Contract is a deal WWE signs former talent to so they can use their name and likeness for merchandise and licensing opportunities. It gives the worker a chance to make some money without competing but is also restrictive, as WWE has to approve indy appearances.

From the Ask WNW vault…

March 2013: With the response the Chicago fans had chanting “feed me more” during Rob Terry’s match on this week’s Impact does this show how popular Ryback is and backs up his claim to deserve a heavyweight title run? - I’ll start by saying I noticed the “feed me more” chants from the Chicago crowd during Rob Terry’s match against Robbie E as well. My first reaction was, well we know the majority of fans are WWE fans. Ryback is over, despite being booked questionably, he is over. He wanted to challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania but the push went to Jack Swagger. I heard he wasn’t happy about it and was pushing for a heel turn. One thing is clear, Ryback thinks he has what it takes to be “the guy” and wants an opportunity to prove it. I don’t know if you saw his comments here but he doesn’t think anyone has challenged John Cena for the top spot in WWE in the past decade. He also feels he has more to offer than Bill Goldberg. Ryback has the look and he is over but it will ultimately be up to Vince McMahon as to how far he’ll go.

Note from Richard: This installment of Ask WNW comes from questions that were submitted for the latest installment of the WNW Premium Mailbag. With tonight being New Year’s Eve, I wanted to make sure these questions were answered and free visitors also got one final installment of Ask WNW for the year. Thank you for your support!

Why does WWE feel it's necessary to touch NXT superstars gimmicks?

Sometimes WWE alters gimmicks from NXT to the main roster and sometimes they do not, it just depends on the situation. However, we’ve already seen plenty examples of successes and failures. Bray Wyatt got over big on the main roster, while a gimmick like Adam Rose has struggled. Roman Reigns got over more on the main roster than he ever did down in developmental (remember Leakee?). It all depends on the worker and the situation, however, I remind you that NXT is a controlled environment. Audiences at WWE shows are not controlled and as a result, are much different.

I am curious about The Undertaker's current health. After that concussive mess at Wrestlemania 30, has he recuperated fully? When do you see him being done or is it time now?

As far as I know, The Undertaker is doing fine and is not yet considered “out” for Wrestlemania 31 next year. Undertaker is much more private than the majority of WWE talent today and as a result, people love to start rumors about him. I think it’s extremely disrespectful how some find photos of Undertaker looking a certain way and use them as clickbait to exploit him. I do not make guesses on when The Undertaker will hang it up and he’s a WWE Hall of Famer regardless.

What exactly is TNA’s new television schedule on Destination America?

Impact Wrestling will premiere on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 in the 9-11 PM EST timeslot on Destination America. This show will air live and after that, they’ll move to their regular timeslot on Friday nights from 9-11 PM EST beginning on January 16, 2015.

A new series, called Impact Wrestling: Unlocked, premieres on Destination America on Saturdays from 10 AM to 12 PM EST beginning on January 17, 2015. Finally, TNA “Greatest Matches” will premiere on Destination America with a three episode mini-marathon on Saturday, January 10, 2015 beginning at 10 AM ET followed by two new additional episodes on Friday, January 16, 2015 at 9 AM. The show will move to its regular timeslot starting January 17, 2015 on Saturdays at Noon.

Is 2015 the year of new talent in WWE?

I believe a new wave of talent started to emerge for WWE in 2012 and in 2015, it looks like some of these names “will arrive.” I have my eye on Seth Rollins as a mainstay in the main event but it should also be considered that at the very least, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt stand in line for prominent booking. There are others waiting in the wings with the emergence of Ryback, Rusev and hopefully Dolph Ziggler. Daniel Bryan is coming back next year and I believe he has the chance to become the legitimate “face of WWE.”

You’re on record as to writing that Daniel Bryan show win the Royal Rumble and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 31. If that’s the case, how should Roman Reigns, John Cena and Randy Orton be booked at Wrestlemania?

There are a ton of variables in play here and that’s going to keep me from being able to answer this question how you want me to answer it. As for my argument that Daniel Bryan must go over Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, as I just mentioned, he has the chance to become the legitimate “face of WWE.” We know whoever goes over Brock Lesnar will get a burning torch and while the argument has been made for Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan has proved superiority over him.

After beating Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton in one night at Wrestlemania this year, Daniel Bryan was primed for the top spot in 2014. Neck/nerve injuries derailed that and threatened his career before it could reach its peak. Now, WWE has a rare second chance to not only restart on what they were trying to create with Daniel Bryan but they can tell the ultimate story of redemption.

In this case, the reward greatly outweighs the risk. Daniel Bryan is already an established top talent and a win over Lesnar could elevate him to the 1A role that John Cena has held for the past decade. Even if he doesn’t reach that level, he’ll be in a great position to help WWE post-Brock Lesnar. A Daniel Bryan title reign would open up programs for Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Ryback, Rusev, Dolph Ziggler and even already established top talent like Randy Orton and John Cena.

From the Ask WNW vault…

May 2013: Do you think Dean Ambrose is the perfect wrestler to bring prestige back to the United States Championship? He has only had one loss so far and with that being to the Undertaker it’s not going to harm his character. Ryback might be a more believable monster heel if he had been given a strong run as a secondary title holder.- Dean Ambrose is a great worker to help restore prestige to the United States Championship but it’s up to WWE to credibly book the title for it to happen. This goes back to Adam Wacker’s argument (See alsoWWENews.net – Champions Defining Championships) that it’s the champion that defines the title, not the title that defines the champion. With that being said, Ambrose still needs to defend the title successfully. Booking him in non-title matches is not effective. Thankfully, The Shield continues to be booked with confidence and hopefully that translates into the titles being booked with confidence.

Do you think WWE should have kept Daniel Bryan’s return at the Royal Rumble a surprise? I feel it would have had more of an impact plus the crowd reaction would have been huge.

We detailed a couple problems with the return of Daniel Bryan here in our Backstage Raw News. It’s a tricky situation because bringing Daniel Bryan back as a surprise Royal Rumble entrant would assure a massive pop and alleviate pressure if he didn’t go over but it wouldn’t allow for any build either.

Bryan has been out of the ring since the beginning of May last year. By bringing Daniel Bryan back early, it did give him a chance to explain his health to his fans and it gives WWE the opportunity to build him. With him not competing until the pay-per-view, he could cool off, so that is another risk as well.

Another issue to consider is that Bryan probably wanted a chance to explain his health to prevent some fans from thinking his injury was some type of elaborate work. Believe it or not, there are some fans that believe everything is a work.

While hindsight is 20/20, what is done is done and I believe there is a lot of excitement concerning the return of Bryan. It’s amazing to me how he is still over as the company’s top babyface despite missing so much time.

Does NXT need a "mid card" title?

I believe the current set of titles in WWE NXT are fine as is. WWE doesn’t have a good track record for booking midcard titles and NXT is limited to one hour of television each week. NXT seems to be thriving with an increased level of interest and a roster full of top prospects. Vince McMahon has a different view but I believe if NXT isn’t broke, there is no need to try and fix it.

Among the active WWE roster, who would you consider to be "first ballot" Hall of Famers?

If we’re considering The Undertaker a member of the “active WWE roster,” he has to be included or at least mentioned first. The same for someone like Sting or The Rock, who don’t work full-time for WWE. If you’re talking about workers that are on every show and there every week, we have to start with John Cena. While Cena is a very polarizing figure, history will be much kinder to him. Randy Orton should be considered a “first ballot” Hall of Famer as well.

One interesting name is Brock Lesnar. Should he be a WWE Hall of Famer when he hangs up the boot? In my view he probably should be considering he ended the streak and has had a very successful WWE career, albeit on limited dates.

If Brock Lesnar leaves WWE after Wrestlemania 31, where does this leave Paul Heyman?

Remember, Paul Heyman wasn’t brought back with Brock Lesnar. It appeared that way but they were actually on the outs when Heyman first came back. If memory serves me correct, I believe CM Punk had a hand in bringing Heyman back to WWE to use with Lesnar. Regardless, WWE would be crazy to let Heyman walk. I do believe given some of the failed Heyman experiments they need to pair Heyman with an already established talent, rather than someone he’s supposed to “fix.”

Someone linked me to a rumor on Facebook about WWE pairing Heyman with Seth Rollins. I can’t confirm that but something of that nature would probably be much better than trying to force Heyman to help elevate someone else.

Do you think it's time for Vince McMahon to step down and let Triple H and Stephanie take over the reigns?

This is a question that will only pick up steam as Vince McMahon gets older and continues to have reactions like this. However, I believe Vince is still a key asset. Yes, I think he’s making and made some questionable decisions but there’s no debating his decades of success as the best promoter of all-time. You can’t just replace someone like that, even with someone like Triple H or Stephanie. I believe the correct course of action is the one they are currently taking, if only they could get along better in the transition and Vince wasn’t so set in his ways.

From the Ask WNW vault…

March 2013: Now that Booker T has been named to the WWE Hall of Fame will Randy Savage or Paul Bearer also make this year’s Hall of Fame? - I don’t see Randy Savage going in this year but I know there was a push to induct Paul Bearer shortly after he died. I have no problem with Bearer going in this year unless they decide to hold off and induct him when they induct The Undertaker. This year’s WWE Hall of Fame class has shaped up nicely. It went from, “well we may have Mick Foley” to not only do we have Mick Foley but Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund, Trish Stratus and Booker T. It’s a great class.

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