CM Punk Resurfaces, TNA Changing Directions, WWE Network Launches, McMahon Reaches Breaking Point With Batista, Risk Factors To WWE Business, WM30 Card Takes Shape, Concern Over WWE Star's In-Ring Work, Spike TV To Create Their Own Wrestling-Heavy Network

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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, February 22, 2014 to Friday, February 28, 2014 as well as all five Ask WNW segments from the week. Use this newsletter as your own personal tool to catch up on any of the news that you may have missed during the week. Below is a table of contents:

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

Table Of Contents
- WWE News
- TNA News
- Ask WNW

WWE News

- This week's Smackdown Fallout features Santino Marella, Emma, Fandango & Summer Rae, and is available at this link. In addition, the Smackdown Fallout featuring Titus O'Neil is available at this link.

- Earlier this week, WSB-TV out of Atlanta, Georgia spoke with Diamond Dallas Page about his appearance on ABC's Shark Tank, which aired yesterday. The video available at this link.

- DDP pitched his DDP Yoga program, which ultimately failed to be picked up by any investors. Regardless, DDP is enjoying the exposure and increased website traffic.

- John Cena was a guest on Larry King Now with Larry King. In it, he talked about his "10 Weeks BodyChange" fitness program, the return of Hulk Hogan and the upcoming WWE Network. He also pitched a match against Steve Austin for Wrestlemania 31. You can watch the show at this link. - WWE issued a press release on the return of Hulk Hogan to the company. Click here to read it. - Kofi Kingston told the Phoenix News Times that CM Punk is like a brother to him. You can check out the interview at this link. - Digital Spy has a new interview online with WWE Intercontinental Champion Big E. Click here to read it. - For those that missed Diamond Dallas Page on ABC's "Shark Tank" on Friday night, he was turned down by the show's investors. It was stated that DDP Yoga profited $800,000 after Page and his staff were paid. He was seeking $200,000 to develop an App in exchange for a 5% stake in the company. The investors were not interested. - CM Punk was in attendance at UFC 170 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night. There are a couple of photos circulating on Twitter that you can view below:

Joe Rogan acknowledged Punk's attendance during the recap at the end of the pay-per-view.

Punk has maintained a low profile since quitting WWE after last month's Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Very few people know why exactly he chose to leave the company but we have well-documented his frustrations that preceded it.

- WWE noted here on dot com that Elimination Chamber will not be available on Xbox 360. They say the reason is in anticipation for the launch of the WWE Network, which takes place on Monday at 9 AM EST. In addition to Xbox, the pay-per-view will not be available on Dish Network because they are salty over the upcoming WWE Network and acting like spoiled children.

- TMZ Sports covered CM Punksitting cageside with UFC President Dana White at their show on Saturday night. They spoke with White, who claimed they were watching the show as friends. You can read a quote they included below:

"He is a friend and a fan. We have literally never talked about wrestling or fighting or anything else work related since I've known him."

Click here for coverage by TMZ.com.

Punk quit WWE in January but is under contract through July. He is not expected to be granted an early release from that deal and Vince McMahon told investors in a conference call last week he was on a "sabbatical."

- Mick Foley, who was a very outspoken critic about last month's Royal Rumble pay-per-view, has a message for WWE about Sunday night's Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. You can read it below:

DEAR WWE,

Please, please, please, please, have a great show tonight.

As a fan of pro-wrestling – have a great show.

As a father of four who has ordered every PPV for the past year – have a great show.

As the guy whose big Christmas present to his family was a family trip to New Orleans for Wrestlemania, even though he knew he wasn't likely to appear on the event – have a great show.

On behalf of all those other dads or moms who have done the same thing; spent considerable money on an event that thus far is not capturing our imaginations – have a great show.

As a Disney fan who wouldn't want to arrive at the Magic Kingdom just to find out all his favorite attractions were closed – have a great show.

As someone who still remembers how it felt to be 18 years old and see Jimmy Snuka dive off the top of the cage - to see the magic pro-wrestling was capable of creating - and knows you have the ability and personnel to make people feel that same magic - have a great show .

As the estranged son who still loves his WWE family, and, no matter what, in some strange way, always will – have a great show.

Sincerely,

Mick Foley

Click here to view Foley's note on Facebook in its original format.

- TMZ.com is reporting that 2014 WWE Hall of Fame inductee Jake "The Snake" Roberts has cancer. According to their report, the malignant tumor is behind his knee and growing into the muscle. He'll undergo emergency surgery to have it removed. Roberts reportedly noticed the tumor in January and had it biopsied. On Friday, he was told that it came back positive for cancer. His surgery has been scheduled for Tuesday but he still plans on appearing for Jersey Championship Wrestling on March 14, 2014. Jake is scheduled to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame the night before Wrestlemania XXX on Saturday, April 5, 2014 at the New Orleans Arena. Click here for coverage by TMZ.

- Brodus Clay worked Angelo Dawkins at Saturday night's WWE NXT live event in Jacksonville, Florida. Clay went under in the match. You can check out a photo below:

- R-Truth did a Q&A with The Source where he talked about hanging out with Wiz Khalifa backstage at Monday Night Raw in Los Angeles. Truth said he asked Khalifa if he would be interested in being part of his next album and he agreed. He said he's spoken with Juvenile and is in talks with DMX and MGK for features on the album. Truth also spoke a little bit with E-40. He said he laid down two tracks with John Cena. R-Truth talked about numerous other topics, including when he met Tupac and revealed the rapper actually paid for his food a couple of times. Click here to read the article in its entirety. - Randy Orton won the 2014 WWE Elimination Chamber to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. It was announced at the end of the pay-per-view that he will indeed defend the title against Batista at Wrestlemania XXX. Below is a quick look at the eliminations in the match: Sheamus was eliminated by Christian when Christian climbed to the top of the pods and jumped off and pinned him. Daniel Bryan caught Christian with a knee and eliminated him. Christian was examined by WWE doctors, probably kayfabe afterwards. John Cena made Cesaro tap out in the STF to eliminate him. The Wyatt Family came out and mauled Cena, which resulted in Bray Wyatt hitting Sister Abigail. Randy Orton pinned him. Kane came out to send The Wyatts to the back. Bryan ended up getting distracted and attacked him. This gave Orton a chance to come back but Bryan countered and went for the win. Kane pulled the referee out and Orton hit the RKO. Bryan kicked out. He countered again and rolled Orton up for a two count. Kane came back and hit another cheap shot, Orton hit a second RKO and pinned Bryan to win the match. - WWE is already using Hulk Hogan as a face of the WWE Network. A new commercial featuring Hogan touting the service at the $9.99/month price tag premiered during the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. WWE acknowledged the return of Hogan on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw and showed snippets of the news outlets covering it on Friday. It sure seems WWE calculated the leak to maximize mainstream publicity about the Network launch. Speaking of which, WWE plugged the upcoming WWE Network hard throughout the pay-per-view. I suggested the company wants to make sure to let the people the normally buy their pay-per-views they can now watch them all on the WWE Network, with it being obvious the company faces more cable and satellite companies dropping their pay-per-views. Dish Network didn't carry Elimination Chamber because they're upset about the company's new direction with the WWE Network. The WWE Network will launch on Monday morning at 9 AM EST. - The announced attendance for WWE Elimination Chamber was 14,101, a legitimate sellout from the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. - Brock Lesnar did not appear on the pay-per-view, despite what Kane said while doing media. We didn't expect Lesnar to appear unadvertised but were surprised he wasn't utilized in Minneapolis. - WWE posted video highlights of The Brotherhood vs. Rybaxel from the Elimination Chamber Kickoff at this link. - Mick Foleywrote WWE a letter where he pleaded for a good Elimination Chamber pay-per-view on Sunday night. So what did he think of the show? The following is from Twitter:

Obviously, Foley is not a fan of Randy Orton vs. Batista for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania XXX. It's a match the company is going to have a hard time pulling off, especially since they can't get Batista over as a babyface against Alberto Del Rio (of all people) even after a cheap heel beatdown. - WWE Network officially launches on Monday at 9 AM EST. Dot com is hyping the historic day and offering a one-week free trial.

“Today is a historic day for WWE as we transform and reimagine how we deliver our premium live content and 24/7 programming directly to our fans around the world,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & Chief Executive Officer. “WWE Network will provide transformative growth for our company and unprecedented value for our fans.”

WWE Network is in collaboration with MLB Advanced Media.

“We applaud WWE for this bold, timely and strategic move to fully optimize the power and potential of live entertainment,” said Bob Bowman, President and CEO, MLBAM. “We are proud to work with WWE to help provide its millions of loyal fans with unencumbered access to distinctive and engaging live content across the devices they use most.”

WWE Network is scheduled to launch in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Nordics by the end of 2014/early 2015. Click here for coverage by dot com. WWE announced the programming lineup at this link, while we broke down the weekly lineup here. February 24, 2014 8:15 AM EST Update: WWE Network is now available for purchase. The on-demand library is ready to go as I already have Wrestlemania 29 playing in the browser beside me. For some reason I had to create a new WWE.com account but it didn't take long. End update.February 24, 2014 8:29 AM EST Update: You can purchase gift subscriptions, however, they must be paid for the year in full at $119.88 (which is $9.99 for 12 months). My own subscription was only $9.99 but I had to consent to a 6-month re-bill. The gifts I bought were paid at the former price as that was the only option. End update.WWE Network is now available for purchase. I was able to purchase my own subscription and a few gift subscriptions just after 8:15 AM EST, I'm guessing it's been online for a couple of hours. The actual live feed does not begin until 9 AM EST, this is a change from the original plan. The original plan was for the Network to go live after Monday Night Raw at 11:05 PM EST. The on-demand portion of WWE Network is up and running. The latest episode of Raw is the January 19, 2014 episode featuring the return of Batista. It goes back to December 23, 2012. The latest episode of Smackdown is the same week, the go-home to Royal Rumble episode, that aired on January 23, 2014. It goes back to the December 20, 2012 episode of Smackdown. All WWE, WCW and ECW pay-per-views are available as advertised. The latest episode of WWE NXT online is Episode 209 that aired on February 18, 2014. Last week's episode of WWE Main Event is online as is last week's episode of WWE Superstars. - WWE Network went live at 9:01 AM EST on the morning of Monday, February 24, 2014 with a special announcement by Vince McMahon. The quality was crystal clear with no buffering or streaming issues. Vince thanked the fans for making the launch historic and plugged the fact that all 12 pay-per-views would be covered as part of the subscription.

http://youtu.be/ldnC86XUpL8

Hulk Hogan was the first superstar to be featured followed by John Cena and Paul Heyman as they started playing a promo clip for Wrestlemania Rewind. The first Divas to be featured on the WWE Network were The Bella Twins.

We then went to Wrestlemania Rewind, which is playing as I type this. - At 9:20 AM EST we were made aware of WWE Network signup problems with users unable to signup when they accessed the module on dot com. Also, I've heard from a couple of users that signed up for the "one week free trial" and ended up getting charged. I can confirm my credit card was billed $9.99 for my subscription as I consented to the 6-month re-bill.

Vince McMahon and Triple H can thank yours truly for helping #WWENetwork trend in America:

- Alex Barie of TNANews.com snapped a screen capture of a disclaimer shown on the WWE Network on shows that feature Chris Benoit. I Tweeted it and have included it below:

Obviously this will be used in other situations as well as it does not mention Chris by name.

- WWE.com's servers are overwhelmed with the demand of the WWE Network and as a result, users just aren't able to signup right now. I tried myself and got a dreaded white screen. The company released the following statement:

WWE NETWORK EXPERIENCING HIGH DEMAND
Please be patient if you’re ordering WWE Network as we’re experiencing extremely high demand. Your order will be processed as soon as possible.

The good news in all this is that I've been watching the live feed since it started at 9 AM EST and haven't had one issue, including being able to access DVR type functionality.

Backstage news from WWE Elimination Chamber in Minneapolis…

- Vince McMahon was and has been upset with the crowd reactions directed towards Batista. We're told Elimination Chamber could have been his breaking point when extraordinary efforts to get Batista over as a babyface ended up failing. While most people will point to Batista's best run being his final three months with the company as a heel in 2010, Vince and Triple H wanted him back as a babyface. We're told Vince is "past upset" that it hasn't worked but following the pay-per-view, a tweak is seen as inevitable.

- The WWE Elimination Chamber script was finalized on Thursday and there were no changes or swerves. As I noted here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, the impromptu Divas Championship match was planned far in advance despite not being advertised.

- The elevator to the Bad News Barrett platform legitimately broke so WWE had to pivot with the podium on the stage. It wasn't seen as a big deal since they were able to script Barrett excusing it in one of the segments.

- The Wyatt Family and The Shield received rave reviews backstage for their "amazing" 6-man tag team match. We're told Vince McMahon loves the fact that all members of The Shield will do great on their own.

- Big E was spoken too about busting Jack Swagger out on his standing body splash but he didn't get heat.

- There continues to be widespread WWE Network problems as of Noon EST. Everything from subscribers having a hard time watching on-demand content to users having a hard time signing up. I tried to view the schedule for the day and got booted out and can't get back in on my desktop.

I updated the WWE App and am able to watch fine on my iPhone 5. I haven't had an issue with the live feed at all and was just able to bring up the WWF Over the Edge 1999 pay-per-view on my phone with no problem.

Speaking of which, below is the Owen Hart advisory shown prior to the pay-per-view:

- For those that have asked when encore airings of Raw and Smackdown will be available on the WWE Network, the answer is 30 days after their original air date on USA and SyFy. The following is from the official Network FAQ:

Yes, 2012 and 2013 replays of Raw and SmackDown are available on WWE Network's ever-growing video-on-demand library. Current episodes of RAW and SmackDown will be available on-demand 30 days after their original air date on USA and Syfy.

This isn't the case for WWE pay-per-views as they'll be made available immediately because it's programming that premieres on the WWE Network. Below is the official response from the WWE document:

All programming that premieres on WWE Network, including WWE Pay-Per-View events, immediately becomes available in WWE Network's extensive video-on-demand library.

Neither Royal Rumble 2014 nor Elimination Chamber 2014 are currently available in the video-on-demand library. - WWE has added a Hulk Hogan session to Wrestlemania Axess over Wrestlemania 30 weekend. The session is scheduled for Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 8 AM. - Jake Roberts Tweeted the following statement:

Thank for for all of the support and well wishes about my procedure tomorrow. The doctors are optimistic that the growth is contained and tomorrow's removal should take care of the problem. However, we will not know for sure until it is taken out and further tests are done. I am fine and just as optimistic as the doctors. Did my DDP Yoga this morning and looking forward to all of my upcoming appearances with the fans. I will keep you posted but no need to worry about the Snake.

As we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com (via TMZ), Roberts has a cancerous tumor behind his knee that is growing into the muscle. He's set to undergo emergency surgery on Tuesday to have it removed. He still plans to honor independent bookings and appear at the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony to accept his induction. - Repucom sent us the following data on Hulk Hogan in anticipation of his WWE return on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw:

· Hulk Hogan has a 96% awareness among a general population in the US This is one of the highest awareness levels of any athlete/celebrity in the US. Michael Jordan (98%); George Forman (96%); Lance Armstrong (96%). For additional context, Kobe has a 91% awareness, Peyton Manning 88%. Sylvester Stallone and Clint Eastwood also have 96% awareness in the US. · He has become more Trustworthy since 2008 · Of the 96% of people that know Hulk, 56% think he’s an effective product spokesperson. · He’s considered as appealing as Kobe Bryant and Tony Romo.

Repucom measures consumer perceptions of celebrities. You can check out more information at this link. - Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart have arrived at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin for this week's episode of Monday Night Raw. Hogan Tweeted the following about the energy in the building:

In case you've been living under a rock the last few days, Hogan is returning to WWE on this week's broadcast. WWE leaked his return in the media on Friday and have already included him as one of the faces of the new WWE Network. In addition to appearing on this week's Raw, Hogan will appear on the premiere episode of Backstage Pass on WWE Network.

- Last week's episode of WWE Smackdown, the go-home to Elimination Chamber, did an average viewing audience of 2,729,000 viewers on SyFy. This is the second-lowest viewing audience the show has done this year. You can see how the competition fared at this link. The show ended up doing a 1.95 cable rating.

- WWE has filed FORM 10-K with the SEC, an annual report as part of their year end filings. In the document, they go over certain risks to the company's business as a whole. While the document is too long to go over completely, there are some things I would like to highlight:

The company discusses risk factors to their business, explaining just how important domestic television is to them. The following is from the report:

Our failure to maintain or renew key domestic television agreements could adversely affect our ability to distribute television programming which could adversely affect our operating results.

As to what Vince McMahon means to WWE, here's what is stated about him as a risk:

The unexpected loss of the services of Vincent K. McMahon could adversely affect our ability to create popular characters and creative storylines or could otherwise adversely affect our operating results.

They note in addition to being a part-time character on television that he is indeed head of creative. As we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Vince replaced Stephanie McMahon as head of creative last fall. While it was unknown at the time if WWE would acknowledge the change, Stephanie has since been re-titled Chief Brand Officer.

You can read WWE's annual filing in its entirety at this link.

- My lovely wife sent word that Ezekiel Jackson resurfaced on this week's episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta on Bravo. He was the guest of Kandi Burruss at a charity event.

Ezekiel Jackson is currently recovering from double hernia surgery that he underwent on January 3, 2014. We have details at this link. - It was announced on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw that this week's episode of Smackdown would feature Batista telling the WWE Universe what he really thinks of them. They subtitled it, The Animal Unchained. WWE will tape this week's episode of Smackdown on Tuesday night from the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We'll have complete taping results here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com. - Undertaker made his return to WWE on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw. Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman came out with Heyman speaking "on behalf of his client." Heyman talked down The Authority and said Lesnar wanted to make history. Heyman's promo was cut off by the gong as Undertaker came out in his full DeadMan gear with the lights down. He got in the ring and went face-to-face with Lesnar. The crowd chanted loudly for Undertaker as the camera panned out to capture the Wrestlemania XXX logo. Brock told him to "sign the damn contract." Lesnar signed first and handed Undertaker the pen. Undertaker stabbed Lesnar with the pen right in the hand then chokeslammed him through a table that was setup in the ring. Undertaker looked up at the Wrestlemania logo as the lights went back down and Undertaker's lights and music hit. Brock Lesnar was shown laid out as they ran replays. Undertaker exited to end the show. Below is video of the final segment: http://youtu.be/wIqv_DR6ij0 - WWE announced that Aaron Paul from Need for Speed will be on next week's episode of Monday Night Raw from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois. - After this week's episode of Monday Night Raw, the following is set for Wrestlemania 30: WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match - Randy Orton © vs. Batista The Streak - Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar Wrestlemania Host - Hulk Hogan Wrestlemania 30 will take place Sunday, April 5, 2014 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. We'll have exclusive live play-by-play coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com. - John Cena is fine following an apparent left knee tweak on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw. Cena appeared to be legitimately banged up in the show's 9 PM segment when he was elevated by Erick Rowan during a kayfabe beatdown by The Wyatt Family. WWE rolled the injury into an angle and even used it as a focal point of the premiere episode of Backstage Pass on the WWE Network. It became an apparent an angle was on when WWE physician Chris Amann stated on the broadcast that Cena was "refusing an MRI." Kayfabe coverage on dot com suggested Cena had been "transferred to a local medical physicality." Bray Wyatt used the "injury" to further his proposed Wrestlemania 30 match against Cena:

WWE Raw TV Notes from February 24, 2014

- WWE did not acknowledge the death of Big Daddy V (real name Nelson Frazier Jr.) prior to this week's episode of Monday Night Raw. The former King of the Ring died last week due to a heart attack. He was only 43-years-old.

- Dan Engler, the former Rudy Charles, refereed at Elimination Chamber and this week's episode of Monday Night Raw in Green Bay.

- Mick Foley wasn't a fan of this week's episode of Raw, admitting he was wrong with his "greatest Raw of the Year" prediction. You can read his latest at this link.

- WWE will return to the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin for the June 10th Smackdown taping. The password to obtain tickets is SMACKDOWN.

- Below are new Raw Fallout videos:

A Real American Problem? - Raw Fallout - February 24, 2014:

Alberto Del Rio wants a Chance - Raw Fallout - February 24, 2014

- Hulk Hogan flew from Green Bay to New York and is scheduled to be at WWE headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut on Tuesday. He Tweeted the following:

WWE posted video of his return on Monday Night Raw at this link.

- Just for clarification regarding John Cena, he legitimately injured his knee on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw as we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com. We ran further updates here and here that detailed what happened and the fallout from it. It was clear to the live audience and from close-up camera shots that Cena suffered swelling and his knee cap was distorted/tweaked/out of position, however, the word we got from backstage was that a serious injury had not occurred. WWE took what was a legitimate tweak and accentuated into an angle to entice viewers to tune into Backstage Pass on the WWE Network. Cena's status should considered day-to-day moving forward but he is not scheduled for this week's Smackdown taping on Tuesday night in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is scheduled to appear at Thursday's NXT Arrival pay-per-view, which will air live on the WWE Network.

- Batista Tweeted the following:

The plan was for Batista to return to WWE as a top babyface and challenge a top heel in Randy Orton for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania XXX. As part of what can now be termed "the Daniel Bryan revolt," Batista has been used a scapegoat for fans upset about the fact Bryan wasn't even booked in the Royal Rumble match. Batista, on the other hand, returned from a near four-year absence in the bout and went over in a prominent spot. WWE has tried almost everything to get Batista over as a babyface but it hasn't worked.

We noted in our Backstage News from Elimination Chamber that Vince McMahon was “past upset” and a gimmick tweak was seen as inevitable. WWE seemed to tease a tweak on this week's episode of Smackdown as the tagline is - The Animal Unchained. The promotion is Batista will appear at Smackdown in Milwaukee to tell the WWE Universe what he really thinks of them.

The company will tape this week's episode of Smackdown on Tuesday night and we'll have complete taping results here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.

- For those that have asked, Hulk Hogan's children - former TNA Knockout Brooke Hogan and Nick - are planning to attend Wrestlemania 30 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

- Jim Ross has a new blog with his Raw thoughts now online at this link but please check out his BBQ products here at WWEShop.com.

- If you missed it on Raw, yet another trailer for Season 2 of Total Divas was released. In it, Summer Rae is shown on the phone, proclaiming, "he was packing a little something-something.” We have the coverage here on DivaKnockout.com.

Backstage news from Monday Night Raw in Green Bay…

- I originally planned to open this week's Backstage Raw News with details on John Cena's knee but I feel we've completely exhausted it. Further clarification is available at this link and in Tuesday's installment of Ask WNW.

- WWE officials are becoming concerned about the in-ring work of Big E. We're told that producers spoke to him about several spots in his match with Cesaro on this week's show. Spots specially mentioned were dropping Cesaro on his head in the corner, not tucking his chin on the Cesaro Swing and not posting on the Neutralizer. Big E was spoken to on Sunday night after his match at the pay-per-view and the trend continued backstage at Raw. They're worried he's going to hurt himself or someone else.

- We're told a lot of workers introduced themselves to Hulk Hogan for the very first time. Jimmy Hart was backstage with Hogan.

- The word going around backstage is WWE wants to wait until Wrestlemania 30 to put the Tag Team Championship on The Usos. No word if The New Age Outlaws will drop the belts before then but that was the latest.

- Brock Lesnar was heavily praised for the way he sold Undertaker's chokeslam through the table. One observer commented that Lesnar helped end the night on a high note by making Undertaker look downright dominating.

- Jake "The Snake" Roberts says he's received a preliminary diagnosis of skin cancer that is behind his knee and growing into the muscle tissue. Diamond Dallas Page posted a video of Jake discussing the surgery he's scheduled to undergo on Tuesday to have it removed. In the video, Jake admits to being scared. You can watch that video at this link. Roberts is scheduled to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame the night before Wrestlemania XXX on Saturday, August 5, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

- This week's episode of Monday Night Raw did an average viewing audience of 4,661,000 viewers on the USA Network, brother! Below is how viewership broke down by hour:

Hour one - 4,892,000 viewers
Hour two - 4,778,000 viewers
Hour three - 4,313,000 viewers

The broadcast was the top cable program for the night with a 1.6 adults 18-49 rating. You can see how the competition fared at this link.

The show ended up doing a 3.31 cable rating.

- WWE opened this week's Smackdown taping with a tribute to Big Daddy V, whose real name is Nelson Frazier Jr. Frazier died suddenly last week after suffering a heart attack at the age of 43. There were more than a few people that wondered why the company did not acknowledge it on this week's Raw.

- WWE Network problems remain widespread as of late Tuesday night. We've received a ton of communication from readers through email and our social media accounts reporting issues with lagging, buffering or the fact they cannot get the video-on-demand content to play.

Monday was dominated by users having trouble signing up and now this. An official statement was issued on Tuesday afternoon via the WWE Network Twitter account, explaining there was a technical issue affecting 20% of viewers and they expected to have it resolved by 6 PM. So far, we've received complaints well past that time period.

The issues are not device specific either as we've heard from users that have had issues using the WWE Network on their desktop computers, their Roku media devices, phones, tablets and more.

Tuesday was the first chance I've had to "dig in" to some of the content and I actually had pretty good luck. I watched the first 43 minutes of WCW Bash of the Beach 1996 on my iPhone without an issue.

Once I started to experience streaming issues, I checked out the February 19, 2014 episode of WWE NXT. I was able to watch the show in its entirety without issue. It's a good thing as I was able to watch Adrian Neville show off his Red Arrow finisher that's one of the best finishers in the business. For those unaware, it's a corkscrew shooting star press.

While I had success, it wasn't without issue. The company must get these issues resolved before Wrestlemania 30 in April, however, I will state I haven't had much trouble out of the live feed. The majority of the problems I have experienced with the WWE Network have been with the video-on-demand library. - In addition to the note regarding WWEpaying tribute to the late Big Daddy V at this week's Smackdown taping, there were two notable items announced for next week's episode of Monday Night Raw. Brock Lesnar will appear live to discuss Undertaker's attack on him in the first step to their match at Wrestlemania 30. The Shield and The Wyatt Family will re-match their 6-man tag team bout that stole the show at Sunday'sElimination Chamberpay-per-view. WWE has already announcedAaron Paul from the Need for Speed movies will appear. Next week's episode of Monday Night Raw will emanate from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois. - Chris "Mookie" Harrington has a blog entry online where he attempted to track WWE Network signups on Monday. He pointed out (via Ian Hamilton) the company was giving out sequential numbers in their confirmation emails sent out to people that had subscribed. That's all it took to generate an 8-hour sampling of data (8 AM-4 PM) to make some estimates. Chris estimated 250,000-350,000 signups on the first day with at least 130,000 by 4 PM. The number WWE is looking for is 1,000,000 by year end. Until the company reaches that number, the WWE Network will be seen as an investment. They will begin to recognize a profit in excess of 1 million subscribers. These numbers will be made available to the public. Click here to check out Harrington's sampling. - The Miz beat Fandango via submission with the Figure-Four in a pre-show dark match at Tuesday night's Smackdown taping in Milwaukee. There was no post-show dark match main event. We have complete taping results for this week's Main Eventhere and Smackdown here. - Hulk Hogan made a cameo appearance on the Today Show on NBC on Wednesday. He showed up with the WWE Championship belt and proclaimed that he would be hosting Wrestlemania 30 on April 6, 2014. Hogan said Wrestlemania this year was even more historic with it being the first live pay-per-view on the WWE Network. He invited everyone from the show to attend. Willie Geist, one of the show's hosts, was at Wrestlemania I and told Hogan he would be in New Orleans for the show this year. It was a good appearance for Hogan and WWE. We can all have an opinion on Hogan but he thrives in this type of setting and is a great ambassador for the company. I broke the news of his appearance on Twitter:

February 26, 2014 11:40 AM EST Update: WWE posted video of the appearance here on dot com. End update.

- Danny Jones shot the new Hogan's Beach commercial with Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart and I must admit, it's pretty funny. You can watch it at this link. Jones also produced Hogan's commercial he shot for Hostamania that was a take off of Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" music video.

- Jake Roberts noted on his verified Twitter account that his surgery on Tuesday went well to remove a cancerous growth from behind his knee. The following is from Twitter:

News broke last week that Roberts noticed a tumor behind his knee in January. He got it biopsied after seeing a doctor and it came back positive for cancer. Roberts later said it was a preliminary diagnosis of skin cancer. - The latest WWE Network technical support issue has to do with a log-in problem. The WWE Network Tweeted the following:

We reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com that problems with the service our widespread but deal mostly with issues regarding the video-on-demand portion of the service. They are not device specific and seem to be happening regardless of how the WWE Network is being accessed. - Wrestling News World reader Bob has an older computer setup and sent in a note about how he fixed his issues with the WWE Network. Below is his report:

I wanted to share my technical experience regarding the WWE Network. I learned early that my XP operating system along with IE8 browser is not supported per their system requirements. I have had some issues on other sites. I have an older computer both a desktop and laptop. I solved my problem by using the Firefox browser. I could not get the videos to open with XP and IE8 but was able to use all the other options. I read some comments with people experiencing the same issue. All appears to work fine on the desktop with Firefox. I had the usual first day issues but by the afternoon I was able to sign up. I have helped a few friends who have older systems like myself. None of us are techies but I have solved my own issues before.

- We reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com that Viacom was considering dropping out of contention for WWE's domestic television rights after feeling "toyed with" by WWE. We noted in that report there had been a shift in Viacom's position. With all the attention WWE has been getting about the WWE Network in addition to the company possibly bringing all of their programming to a single cable network or family of networks, the talk at Viacom is to take Spike TV and expand their own programming. The idea would be to take the money that was earmarked for the WWE rights and double down and create their own "wrestling-heavy" network. We're told the feeling at Spike TV is that TNA will continue to lose more expensive top stars (as they have with Hulk Hogan, AJ Styles, Sting etc.) and they're under the impression Jeff Jarrett's group will be in play to land them. We're told Jarrett's group already has interest in Styles and could look to land Kurt Angle and Jeff Hardy when they're available (September and February '15 respectively). While sources have indicated the original intent of the Jarrett/Toby Keith group was to try and land TNA's Spike TV spot at the end of the year, Spike could be interested in keeping TNA and giving Jarrett's promotion their own show as well. TNA does not have exclusively in their current deal for Impact and will have "little to no leverage in the next deal." Further, Spike wants to re-examine the possibility of bringing New Japan Pro Wrestling programming to American television. While NJPW has struck up a working relationship with Ring of Honor, they are eventually looking for a larger US presence than that. Spike and NJPW had talked in the past, but nothing ever came of it. Spike TV is toying with the idea of adding several new wrestling shows when their original intent was to bid on all of WWE's programming. Because of this original intent, they already had plans in place for how they would handle having wrestling on the network several nights a week. While nothing is for sure, we're told serious exploration is going on in terms of Spike traveling down this path without WWE. While TNA has done a decent job of bringing in viewers for Bellator (in which Viacom owns), it would stand to reason they'd do an even better job of attracting viewers with more pro wrestling programming. It's also possible that if WWE lowers their expectations for their programming that Spike could reconsider but right now they're crunching the numbers on simply offering their own wrestling shows. One observer compared these negotiations to the last time Spike TV tried to renew their deal with WWE, publicly walked away out of spike and left WWE out to dry. This forced WWE to return to the USA Network with their "tail tucked between their legs." - Cassandra Frazier, the wife of Nelson Frazier Jr., a/k/a Big Daddy V, made a scathing post on her Facebook regarding reports over her husband's death and WWE's reaction to it. The post, in CAPS LOCK, wrote that Nelson didn't "deserve" what was being said about "him on Google." She wrote that WWE doesn't "care about the wrestlers." She also outright denied TMZ's story, saying she never spoke to the publication as they claimed. Cassandra also stated that Bobby Horne, her husband's former tag team partner, was a good man and was helping her. Frazier ended by warning Vince McMahon, writing that she was going to "start telling everything" she knew. You can read the post in its entirety at this link or embedded below:

WWE issued a statement over the death of Nelson Frazier but did not pay tribute to him prior to Monday Night Raw. However, a tribute aired prior to this week's Smackdown taping that will be seen as part of the broadcast.

- Variety is reporting that WWE Studios has acquired US distribution and worldwide remake rights to the French comedy “Queens of the Ring.” The French production partnered with Warner Bros and released it theatrically in France as “Les Reines Du Ring" last summer.

“We are excited to acquire distribution and remake rights to a wonderfully entertaining comedy like ‘Queens of the Ring,’” said Michael Luisi, president of WWE Studios. “This film gives WWE Studios the opportunity to introduce a feel good story to a broad audience, while serving up a film we know our core fans will also enjoy.”

According to Variety, the deal was negotiated by Bradley Buchanan. The publication lists all of the upcoming WWE Studios projects. They are as follows:

“Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery” out on home video on March 25
"Flintstones"
"The Fall Guy" starring The Rock
"Incarnate"
"Jingle All the Way" sequel
"The Marine" sequel starring The Miz & Summer Rae
“Leprechaun: Origins" starring Hornswoggle out in August
"See No Evil 2" starring Kane in October

Click here for coverage by Variety.

- I can confirm that Rey Mysterio'sWWE contract is up in a few months. However, I'm told the company is actively trying to re-sign him and the general belief is that he will re-sign. Mysterio is in no rush to re-sign because he knows the more interest he can garner from outside suitors, the more leverage that he'll have with WWE. I'm told he has no interest in TNA Wrestling but both AAA and CMLL in Mexico want him and think he's leaving WWE. However, I'm told as long as he can get another contract at his current downside, which is very high, he doesn't want to give up that kind of guaranteed money when he knows his body might fail him at any time. This is a situation similar to what happened with Mark Henry last summer. He ended up with a good deal after posturing like he was leaving. Mysterio is hoping for the same.

- Jake Roberts underwent surgery on Tuesday to remove a cancerous growth from behind his knee. The procedure lasted 5 1/2 hours and they had to go in three different times to remove it all. Jake revealed in a post-surgery call with Bill Apter, they didn't know what type of cancer it is. There are two more places on Jake's other leg but they aren't as big. You can listen to Jake's call with Apter at this link.

- Dolph Ziggler answers questions from fans in the latest episode of WWE Inbox. You can watch it now at this link. Ziggler said the best match he's had in WWE was against Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship at Royal Rumble 2011. For those that do not remember, the bout carried the stipulation that if Edge used the spear, he would "lose the championship." Edge went over Ziggler in the bout timed at 20:46. You can watch it now in its entirety on the WWE Network.

- We continue to receive reports from readers that are having problems with the WWE Network. I watched another episode of NXT on Wednesday night without issue. I'm not sure if I've just been one of the lucky ones but the issues for me have been limited. However, I am aware of the readers that have reported serious problems including not being able to watch the video-on-demand library and unable to login. For the most part, there do not seem to be issues with the live feed if a user is able to access it.

- Hulk Hogan is very happy to be back home with WWE. He Tweeted the following after a day filled with doing media for the company:

- The Miz did an interview at this link where he talked about his recent wedding to Maryse. He said he just wanted a wedding where he could talk to everyone, hang out and have fun. He said it was beautiful and wonderful and perfect. Miz said his honeymoon was in the Elimination Chamber. - A new press release issued by DDP Yoga confirms that Diamond Dallas Page will induct Jake Roberts into the WWE Hall of Fame over Wrestlemania XXX weekend in New Orleans, Louisiana. The 2014 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place the night before Wrestlemania on Saturday, April 5, 2014 at the New Orleans Arena. The ceremony will air live in its entirety on WWE Network and we'll have complete coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com. NXT ArRIVAL News... - I'm told NXT ArRIVAL was "super sold out" and they had to turn people away that had tickets. While we aren't 100%, we believe people that had tickets that got turned away were given comped tickets for a future shows. - Sami Zayn and Cesaro had my new Match of the Year candidate. It was their mission to go out and put on a clinic and they accomplished it. If you missed the show, Sami Zayn countered Cesaro's Neutralizer into a Spin-out powerbomb. There aren't even words to accurately depict how that happened but this match was must-see as Cesaro ended up going over. They had a great moment in the ring afterwards, where Cesaro hugged Zayn out of a sign of respect. - Full Sail University President Garry Jones and Orange Country Mayor Teresa Jacobs were shown sitting at ringside. - Scotty 2 Hotty and Grand Master Sexay, known collectively as Too Cool, were the surprise challengers for the NXT Tag Team Championship. They went under to The Ascension. - Ric Flair was shown sitting ringside with his daughter Charlotte (who is an NXT diva). William Regal had a great line on commentary. He said he doesn't even like to talk about Flair because his liver starts to shake. - Stephanie McMahon was the guest ring announcer for the NXT Women's Championship match. She shook the hands of Paige and Emma prior to their match. If you missed it, Paige went over to retain the title. - Pat Patterson and Dusty Rhodes were shown sitting at ringside. Patterson took Rhodes' cowboy hat off and put it on. - Larry Zbyszko and Steve Keirn were shown sitting at ringside. - Shawn Michaels made a surprise appearance before the main event and cut a promo about ladder matches. He said the winner of the NXT Championship match had the chance to step into greatness. - Adrian Neville beat Bo Dallas in a Ladder Match to become the new NXT Champion. He becomes the fourth NXT Champion in company history. - John Cena was shown sitting ringside at the end of the show. - I spoke with someone that had tickets to NXT ArRIVAL and was turned away. I was told they were given a refund, free future tickets, a free t-shirt and a meet and greet with the majority of the NXT roster. - There was a technical issue with the live stream during the show. The issue lasted for 5 minutes and was during the entrance of Tyler Breeze. WWE acknowledged it in a statement and said these type of issues "are to be expected when launching a new digital network." They're working to solve the issues and they weren't overly significant. - Mason Ryan beat Sylvester LeFort in a dark match prior to NXT ArRIVAL. If you missed NXT ArRIVAL on Thursday night, you need to make sure that you go out of your way to watch Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro and the NXT Women's Championship match between Paige and Emma. Here, I want to show you one of the best counters I've ever seen. Start the below video at the 1:10 mark and watch as Cesaro goes for the Neutralizer on Zayn and he counters with a sit-out powerbomb. You can watch directly at this link. The tape is embedded below: http://youtu.be/XTqHH0NFKu4 We have complete results with Richard Reacts at this link. Below is what Triple H thought of the match:

- WWE Network issued the following statement to subscribers via email on Friday afternoon:

Thank you for signing up for WWE Network. We are working aggressively to address the login issue for Xbox users and expect to have it resolved by this Monday, March 3, if not sooner. You will be notified via email as soon as this issue is fixed. We apologize for this inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

- WWE issued a press release on Friday, announcing a three-show loop in Japan. The shows are as follows:

Thursday, July 10th & Friday, July 11th from Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo

Saturday, July 12th from the Maishima Arena in Osaka

John Cena is booked for both shows in Tokyo but the press release clarifies that he is not on the show in Osaka. Other names announced for the tour include Daniel Bryan and The Wyatt Family.

The complete press release is at this link.

- WWE finally turned Batista heel on this week's episode of Smackdown. For those that missed it, he opened the show by declaring he didn't come back to be liked. He's back to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and he represents WWE better than people like Hulk Hogan and especially The Rock. Batista said the only reason fans cheer for their “heroes” is because they relate to them, and feel they can do the same. Adam has complete live coverage in our WWE Smackdown Open Thread.

- John Cena was photographed in his Ferrari when he arrived for NXT ArRIVAL on Thursday. My Facebook friend Brian Perine posted the following photo:

- This week's episode of "The JBL & Cole Show" is online at this link.

TNA News

- Jeff Hardy worked Saturday night's OMEGA Championship Wrestling show in Smithfield, North Carolina. Jeff teamed with his brother Matt Hardy and Shane Helms in the show's six-man main event. The show was a success for the Hardys, who own OMEGA, as it was a legitimate sellout. A photo of the crowd is included below:

Jeff Hardy is scheduled to return to TNA Wrestling under the Willow the Whisp gimmick.

- Dixie Carter touched on a myriad of topics in a new Q&A published by Channel Guide Magazine.

One area of particular interest, Carter discussed TNA broadening their demographic as Spike TV looks to attract more female and viewers. She talked about the company targeting a very solid male 18-49 audience for 9 years but the new storylines are broader to target a female demographic and a family demographic. Below is an excerpt from the piece:

So, we’re shifting our focus a little bit. Our storylines are becoming a little bit broader, appealing to more of a female demographic and a family demographic than they may have before. We just started that probably three, four months ago and the numbers are already rising. I think our storylines are trying to appeal to that new group and I’m really excited that it’s working.

Dixie admitted she was concerned about becoming a television character but she is becoming more comfortable with it as time goes by.

You can read the entire piece at this link.

- TNA Wrestling switched their tag titles at Sunday's live event in Morgantown, West Virginia as Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards, known collectively as The Wolves, beat Robbie E & Jessie Godderz, known collectively as The BroMans. The tagline on an official release is that "anything can happen at a TNA Wrestling Live Event." The company has promised #Impact365 footage later. There is a photo of The Wolves with the belts at this link.

- TNA Wrestling posted the following footage of The Wolves beating The BroMans at Sunday's live event in Morgantown, West Virginia to win the TNA Tag Team Championship:

http://youtu.be/yo6t1jY_7ao

- Eight matches have been announced for the upcoming Wrestle-1 vs. TNA Wrestling show that will be taped on March 2, 2014 in Japan. The show will air live in the country and will air from tape in the United States as a TNA "One Night Only" pay-per-view special.

The following has been announced:

TNA Champion Magnus vs. KAI
TNA Tag Team Champions The Wolves (Eddie Edwards & Davey Richards) vs. Team 246 (Shuji Kondo & Kaz Hayashi)
TNA X Division Champion Austin Aries vs. Seiya Sanada
Masakatsu Funaki vs. Bobby Roode
Satoshi Kojima vs. Yasufumi Nakanoue
Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Abyss
Junior Stars (Minoru Tanaka & Koji Kanemoto) vs. Bad Influence (Christopher Daniels & Kazarian)
Madison Rayne vs. Gail Kim

- TNA Wrestling has officially announced Gunner vs. James Storm for their Lockdown pay-per-view. Below is the updated non-spoiler lineup:

Steel Cage Match for the TNA Championship
- Magnus © vs. Samoa Joe

Steel Cage Lethal Lockdown Match
- Team MVP (MVP, ?, ?, ?) vs. Team Dixie (Bobby Roode, ?, ?, ?)

Steel Cage Knockouts Championship Match
- Madison Rayne © vs. Gail Kim

Steel Cage Match
- Gunner vs. James Storm

Click here for official event information.

TNA Lockdown 2014 will take place Sunday, March 9, 2014 at the BankUnited Center at the University of Miami. We'll have exclusive live play-by-play coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.

- TNA has announced Dixie Carter as the guest to their "InterActive Second Screen Experience" during this week's airing of Impact Wrestling. Click here for more information.

- Extreme Tiger, who started with TNA Wrestling, in December will apparently receive a name change. He is under contract with the company.

- MVP is the guest of Christy and JB on the latest Impact Podcast. You can listen now at this link.

- Samoa Joe's contract with TNA Wrestling expires in December 2014. We're told the new Jeff Jarrett/Toby Keith group has interest in him. There's been talk in TNA that they need to keep Joe happy as he's "made it very well known" that he doesn't plan to re-sign if he's not used in a more prominent role. The feeling within the company is guys like Joe could end up having a viable alternative if the Jarrett project works out. Samoa Joe will challenge Magnus for the TNA Championship at Lockdown on March 9, 2014 in Miami, Florida.

- Dixie Carter answered questions from fans in TNA's second screen experience during the airing of this week's episode of Impact Wrestling. Below are the highlights:

Carter didn't specifically address Eric Bischoff but said that Bischoff Hervey Entertainment produces their show.

The location for Slammiversary 2014 will be announced next week.

According to Dixie, the company is discussing the best way to bring back the Gut Check concept.

A tour of Canada is being planned but no TV or PPV this time.

Check out more in-depth TNA coverage at TNANews.com.

- There were updates and additions to the TNA Lockdown lineup revealed on this week's episode of Impact Wrestling. Below is the updated lineup for the show following this week's airing:

Steel Cage Match for the TNA Championship
The only way to win is by submission or knockout.
- Magnus © vs. Samoa Joe

Lethal Lockdown Match
The winning team receives complete control of TNA. Bobby Roode gains 10% ownership iif Team Dixie wins.
- Team Dixie (Bobby Roode, The BroMans & Austin Aries) vs. Team MVP (MVP, The Wolves & TBA)

Steel Cage Match for the TNA Knockouts Championship
- Madison Rayne © vs. Gail Kim

Steel Cage Match
- James Storm vs. Gunner

Steel Cage Match
- Kurt Angle vs. Ethan Carter III

There is an issue with Kurt Angle as he's told us multiple times that he plans to return to the company after the Lockdown pay-per-view. Angle underwent arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this month.

TNA Lockdown 2014 will take place on March 9, 2014 at BankUnited Center in Miami, Florida. We'll have exclusive live coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.

- This week's episode of Impact Wrestling did an average viewing audience of 1,060,000 viewers on Spike TV. The show was not listed in the top 100 cable ratings for adults 25-54 for the day. The numbers were of increased interest as the first hour was up against NXT ArRIVAL on the WWE Network. Viewership data for WWE Network is not available, however, it's safe to assume that it did impact TNA's audience. Impact ended up doing a 0.94 cable rating.

- TNA Wrestling announced on Friday that The Great Muta will team with Senada and Tigre Uno to face Bad Influence & Chris Sabin in a six-man match. They also announced Sam Shaw will face Mr. Anderson on the show. We posted the card following the airing of this week's episode of Impact at this link.

- We made some notes earlier from Dixie Carter's Q&A on TNA's Second Screen appearance during the airing of this week's Impact Wrestling at this link. ImpactWrestling.com has the complete transcript at this link.

- Gail Kim is featured in the March/April issue of Muscle and Fitness Hers. You can check out the feature at this link.

- Kurt Angle and Velvet Sky will represent TNA Wrestling at the Arnold Classic Sports Festival in Columbus, OH this weekend.

Ask WNW

Are there plans for WWE to air studio shows on the WWE Network?

There are plans for a daily studio show to begin airing on WWE Network this summer. It is not included on the initial launch. We've extensively covered the historic launch of WWE Network with a look at what's available, latest Raw and Smackdown replays, a recap of the 9:01 AM EST launch, reported problems and the disclaimer on programming that includes Chris Benoit. I've also been actively Tweeting details and answering questions at Twitter.com/wnwdotcom.

With Batista getting such a poor crowd reaction at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, is it not a huge risk having him face Randy Orton in the main event of Wrestlemania XXX?

WWE has officially announced Randy Orton vs. Batista for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania XXX following Batista's Royal Rumble victory and Orton going over at Elimination Chamber. I do not see how the company will be able to do it. They tried extremely hard at Elimination Chamber to get Batista over as a babyface but the crowd didn't buy it. Even after the cheap heel beatdown by Alberto Del Rio, the crowd was booing Batista and made Del Rio the babyface. It's time that Vince McMahon and Triple H wave the white flag and realize they're going to have to turn Batista. As for the title match at Wrestlemania, all can be well if they insert Daniel Bryan as a triple threat but I'll have more on that below.

What were your thoughts on Luke Harper & Erick Rowan at Elimination Chamber? They really impressed me and it's good to see them getting more chances.

All six men were very impressive in The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber on Sunday night. The bout was without a doubt a Match of the Year candidate and one of the best things you'll see on WWE television. One of my issues with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan when they had that program with Daniel Bryan and CM Punk was that they lacked sufficient build and the program was beneath Bryan and Punk. This was a nice way to bring them along as they've been pushed differently than The Shield, who are perceived as more as equals. With the Wyatt Family, Bray is the clear leader and in the plans to work John Cena at Wrestlemania. That said, all six men, who are inexperienced by WWE standards, thoroughly answered the call on Sunday night and stole the show.

With CM Punk quitting WWE, I believe the idea of Daniel Bryan vs. Triple won't work. Wouldn't it be better if it was Shawn Michaels as Bryan's opponent instead?

Shawn Michaels vs. Daniel Bryan for Wrestlemania XXX is a match that was talked about months ago, however, Shawn ultimately didn't agree to return to the ring. WWE has a few options for Daniel Bryan at the show in April. They can program him against Kane and have a grudge match between former partners, they can have him challenge The Authority and face Triple H or they can do the right thing and insert him into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match. If they do not put Bryan in the title match at Wrestlemania, I'll grab my blow horn and be one of the loudest critics out there, however, everyone crapping on Elimination Chamber because Bryan didn't go over needs to hold on. The push is on for Daniel Bryan. It probably wasn't the original plan but Michael Cole's "outrage" and the way Bryan was booked at the pay-per-view, indicates the kayfabe tie-in. With all due respect to Mick Foley, I believe he's getting worked here. The outrage over the Royal Rumble match was justified, however, they've now rolled this into an angle. If Bryan ends up in a meaningless undercard match at Wrestlemania, I'll criticize loudly but I'm willing to give the company a chance to make things right.

From the Ask WNW vault…

May 2013: What are your thoughts on Bray Wyatt? - I’m very high up on Bray Wyatt and as with Curtis Axel, it’s a tremendous upgrade from Husky Harris. There are very few workers that you can’t find a lot of bad stuff about and Bray is one of those guys. From John Cena on down the line, people have raved about Wyatt’s work. A lot of readers complain about WWE changing gimmicks and blowing up factions from NXT to the main roster. This isn’t happening with the Wyatt Family and I’m excited to see what they’ll bring.

Based on the way things went on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw it looks like WWE is doing Batista vs. Randy Orton and Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania XXX. What are your thoughts?

WWE will be making a monumental mistake if they believe Batista vs. Randy Orton for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship will appease their fans at Wrestlemania 30 in April. Vince McMahon and Triple H appeared to be "sticking with the plan" on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw with the first steps being taken in the aforementioned programs. The feeling coming out of Elimination Chamber (as if it wasn't already beyond obvious) was that a tweak to the Batista character was inevitable. I detailed the situation further at this link. As for Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan, I don't see that as a bad thing for Daniel Bryan but I think if he is not in the title match at Wrestlemania, the company is going to have a riot on their hands. It will be interesting to see if Vince and Hunter stray from the original plan -- and go with option three detailed here -- or if they stick to their guns. Following this week's episode of Raw, as much as I hate to say it, it looks like they're sticking to the plan.

I'm interested in your reaction to the Green Bay crowd chanting "Randy Savage," "Husky Harris," etc. during Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw?

I'm going to agree with my good friend Brooks Oglesby on Twitter with this one. Anyone chanting "Husky Harris" or doing anything disrespectful during Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns at this week's episode of Monday Night Raw, deserves Batista vs. Orton at Wrestlemania. It's stuff like this that makes me such a huge critic of the "CM Punk" chants. I understand that Wyatt vs. Reigns was at a slower-pace on Raw but just because the show is long and the audience is worn out, doesn't give them the right to act like spoiled children. It's reactions like this that cause WWE not to take crowd chants seriously and stick to horrible plans such as the two former Evolution members facing off for the title at the biggest show of the year in a match no one cares about. I'm not saying fans shouldn't be able to chant what they want, it's a free country and if you buy a ticket you should do as you please (within reason of course). But if your only goal in attending a WWE event is to disrupt the show and sabotage two workers that are coming off a Match of the Year candidate at Elimination Chamber, then you should probably find a new hobby. Some people refuse to admit when they've moved on from the business. If you're overly critical and everything you do is an attempt to come off as "the smartest wrestling fan alive," you've probably just lost interest in pro wrestling. There is nothing wrong with that but it's fans like this that make it miserable for everyone else.

Was John Cena legitimately injured on Raw or is it a work?

The John Cena knee injury went from an injury to an "injury." This doesn't mean that he was hurt and suddenly "got better" when WWE went kayfabe with it. As I reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Cena legitimately tweaked his knee and it was obvious to everyone watching on television and everyone in the building. However, the word from backstage was that a serious injury did not occur and WWE was accentuating what happened to entice people to tune in to Backstage Pass. John isn't scheduled for this week's Smackdown but is scheduled to appear at Thursday's NXT Arrival pay-per-view on the WWE Network.

What's the latest update on Sting's status now that Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker has been announced?

Sting is believed to be close to signing a contract with WWE but has never been in the plans for Wrestlemania 30. That's not to say that he doesn't get added to the show when/if a deal gets signed, it just means anything you've heard about Sting and Wrestlemania has been opinion and not fact. Undertaker requested a Wrestlemania match with Brock Lesnar before he faced CM Punk at Wrestlemania 29 last year, that's how far this goes back. Over the course of the last year, this match only hit one significant speed bump when Undertaker was believed to be concerned about Lesnar's physical style at this stage in his career. However, we confirmed on Valentine's Day that Undertaker had officially signed off on a match with Lesnar and they were just trying to figure out how long Brock would spend in Texas to go over the bout.

From the Ask WNW vault…

February 2014: What are the updated plans for Wrestlemania XXX? - Plans for Wrestlemania XXX have been more “up in the air” this year than some of my sources can ever remember. Vince McMahon likes to have Wrestlemania planned up to a year in advance but this year it just hasn’t happened. From not getting part-time talent locked down to other issues, the plans have constantly changed. However, the plans for the show as of this writing are to do Randy Orton vs. Batista, Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker, John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H. I was told they were looking at doing Goldust vs. Cody Rhodes and Rey Mysterio pitched a match against Alberto Del Rio. Obviously these plans are subject to change with the only “sure thing” being Batista challenging for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in response to winning the Royal Rumble.

I love the idea of John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania XXX. Cena is nearing the twilight of his career, where he needs to take it a lot easier on his body. John Cena is at a place where he can help to elevate newer talent and he’s been doing that with certain people on the mic. Is that what WWE is trying to accomplish that with this bout?

John Cena is 36-years-old and is still very much in the prime of his carer as the face of WWE. As he stated in a scripted promo on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw, the future of the business runs through him. John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt seemed underwhelming to me as a Wrestlemania match until Bray's singles bout against Daniel Bryan at Royal Rumble. It was there Bray's full potential was realized because we were able to see the in-ring work that so many have raved about. Putting Bray in a match with Cena at Wrestlemania, which is the direction they plan on going, is big for him and should raise his profile, however, they have to be careful. While some will claim a loss "wouldn't hurt Cena," I could make an argument why neither should lose. As for Cena working with younger talent, this is WWE utilizing him to help an up and coming name but he's not in a situation where his only job is to "help" younger talent. Cena is still very much "the guy" and the future of business literally runs through him.

Why does WWE give their new talent such dead-end gimmicks? The most recent example of this would be Fandango. I think that Fandango could have a really good run as a mid-card talent, but I cannot really get past this gimmick. It seems like they give these wrestlers these gimmicks and hype them up just to lose them in the shuffle. What is your opinion on this?

I disagree with your premise that Fandango is a dead-end gimmick and actually feel his gimmick has resulted in his success as a mid card performer in WWE. Some gimmicks work and others do not but I feel Fandango has absolutely worked. His theme song alone skyrocketed his popularity after Wrestlemania 29 last year and has resulted in a consistent role on television for him. Furthermore the success of Fandango has trickled over to Summer Rae, who is dominating the female exposure on both Raw and Smackdown. I'm not sure WWE could have expected more out of this gimmick as it's more than accomplished its goal.

How do you think Triple H has done so far in his new corporate role? It looks to me that all he is doing is bringing back his friends in Kevin Nash, New Age Outlaws, etc.

Triple H began his role as a WWE executive in 2010 and was officially given an office at the company's headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. The transition has been slow and calculated with Vince McMahon picking Hunter as his inevitable successor. Over the past four years, Vince has given Hunter more and more responsibilities and now it's to the point where they are equal on many levels. It's still rather early to start judging Hunter's overall job performance but I've been impressed with the things that I know he has spearheaded.

His biggest project to date is leading up the transformation of the company's developmental territory. Hunter led the charge in the development of the WWE Performance Center and the agreement with Full Sail University to tape television there. I know Bill DeMott takes criticism as head trainer but I classify both of these projects as very successful. It also makes sense for Triple H to be focused on developing talent because it's that talent that's going to carry the company forward.

I also give Hunter credit for "doing the impossible" in bridging the gap between Vince McMahon and Bruno Sammartino. Bruno's induction into the WWE Hall of Fame was no easy task and one even Vince doubted could get done. Bruno's inclusion helps legitimatize the entire Hall of Fame and adds even more value to the event the night before Wrestlemania. Triple H also deserves credit for helping change Vince's mind on part-time talent. Hunter has negotiated with workers such as Chris Jericho in developing contracts where they can come back when their schedule's allow. This is a drastic change from Vince's past when it was "all or nothing."

Just based on these very few things, I have no problem with Triple H's increased roles and responsibilities. Yes, he is a guy that takes care of his friends and the fact that Billy Gunn and Road Dogg have jobs as producers is probably part of that. However, the decision to bring them back to TV as performers was one that was made recently and it was due to the fact they needed another tag team and both had received high praise for still being able to go. Hunter was a big part in getting Batista back, however, I have to put the blame of his failure as a babyface more on Vince McMahon as head of creative. I have no problem with Triple H remaining loyal to his friends and it actually makes me respect him more. A lot of people have success (not just in wrestling) and forget about the people that helped get them there. Triple H hasn't done that and should be respected for that. I also want to clear up Hunter's job title. He is the Executive Vice President of Talent and Live Events in WWE. The "COO" tag is kayfabe as WWE does not have a COO.

Why has WWE completely phased out color? I know CM Punk bled not too long ago in a cage match, and it was debated if he did it intentionally. But before that, the Brock Lesnar/John Cena match was amazing; the color sold the match even more. I completely agree with you when you say that it shouldn’t be every other match. But, I think some matches lack greatly from the lack of color. A Hell in a Cell match would seem more barbaric, as it was intended to be, if there was some color at least once in a while. Where do you stand on this?

For those that do not know, color in the wrestling business is blood. And in the wrestling business, one "adds color" by "blading" or intentionally slicing their forehead with a razor to sell the fact they've been busted open. WWE banned blading years ago, however, there have been incidents where workers have done it anyway. I will admit it's harder to get a dry steel cage match over and "adding color" can be beneficial in certain situations. It's important not to overdo it because as with any gimmick, too much and it's overkill and becomes the new norm. However, I completely understand the decision to move away from blading and agree that it is in the best interest of public health.

While WWE performers are routinely tested for blood infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C, the risk is still there. The only way to completely eliminate the risk is to eliminate direct contact with someone else's blood. Even by eliminating intentional cutting (or blading) the risk is still there when a worker is busted open the hard way (or unintentionally). WWE has taken it a step further by having medical personnel at ringside during bouts and immediately treating a worker when they are busted open, even if that means stopping the match. While fans criticize this, it's all done for the safety of the workers. I personally feel that knowing what we know about diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C along with how to prevent one from becoming infected with such diseases, it would be primitive and barbaric to ask or expect someone to assume the risk of coming in direct contact with someone else's blood.

Workers can still get matches over without putting their health or the health of their opponent at risk. When one criticizes this they should think about how they would feel if their job required them to come in direct contact with someone else's blood knowing it poses a serious risk to their long-term health. I'll also note that WWE will not medically clear a worker that tests positive for a blood infectious disease. In other words, if a worker contracts a disease such as HIV or Hepatitis C, their in-ring career in WWE is over.

From the Ask WNW vault…

September 2007: I noticed from time to time in WWE that a performer will lose a significant amount of blood during a match. For a performer to bleed this much they would have to be cut open by their opponent using a weapon. Are these weapons real? - Most of the time when you see blood in a wrestling match it is done by a process called blading. A wrestler will blade by hiding small pieces of a razor blade in their trunks or under a taped arm, when they get the chance, they slice a small cut in their forehead, causing a significant amount of bleeding. A performer is NEVER intentionally cut by an opponent. When you see a wrestler get smashed in the face with a weapon it is a stunt. Performers are never actually hit in the face with a weapon, but the illusion is good enough to make you believe that they were. However, that is not the case with some weapons as most chair shots are actually pretty legitimate, so it depends on the weapon.

It looks like WWE is going with Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania XXX. If CM Punk had accepted the supposed match with Triple H, what would have been the plans for Daniel Bryan?

The original plan for Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania XXX was a singles match against Sheamus. The talk of switching Bryan's opponent to Triple H began the night after Royal Rumble. I still do not know what CM Punk knew about this before he walked out. Did word reach him the proposed bout against Triple H, that apparently he wasn't happy about, being off in favor of extending his program against Kane? Remember, Punk was scheduled to work Kane at Elimination Chamber in a stopgap to Hunter but there was talk they could wait until Wrestlemania to blow it off. The Wrestlemania lineup is now beginning to take shape and the current plan is in fact Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan.

Where exactly did Erick Rowan and Luke Harper come from?

Erick Rowan was known on the independent scene in the United States and Japan before signing a WWE developmental contract in February 2011. Luke Harper was better known as Brodie Lee as one of the top independent names in the US during his time with Evolve and Dragon Gate USA. He signed his developmental contract with WWE in March 2012. The team was put together and seasoned in NXT, where they held the NXT Tag Team Championship for 84 days. They taped a reunion match at NXT against Marcus Luey and Jason Jordan on January 9, 2014 that you can read about here. I actually watched the tape on Wednesday night and it was a short squash match but Bray Wyatt proclaimed they hadn't forgot where they came from. The Wyatt Family were babyfaces at NXT that night.

Since Monday Night Raw is taking place in Chicago this Monday, could we see CM Punk?

We can't rule anything out because literally anything is possible, however, I would classify a possible CM Punk return at Raw in Chicago on Monday as doubtful. If Vince McMahon could work some magic, this would be the time to do it. Could you imagine the pop Punk would get at the Allstate Arena and the momentum they would have leading up to Wrestlemania XXX in April? It would make for a historic night and a historic moment, however, I have heard of no such plans. WWE continues to move away from Punk, with the overwhelming assumption being that he's gone and not coming back. My one hope about Raw in Chicago is that the crowd doesn't behave like they did in Green Bay this week. That crowd didn't send a message, they seemed out of touch and irrelevant.

What are your thoughts on Undertaker's look on Monday Night Raw? I thought it was a mixture of old and new school with the beard.

I believe it's humanly impossible to get tired of the gong hitting and The Undertaker returning. Even though most expected him to come back on Monday night, his entrance was epic. The goatee and shaved mohawk looked great and got me ready for Wrestlemania season. After last year, the conversation needs to shift. We need to stop debating whether or not "the streak" should end and start debating whether or not Undertaker is the greatest Wrestlemania superstar of all-time. I also implore readers to realize that every Undertaker appearance and match from this point forward is historic. Don't miss them and don't get overly critical. Realize you are watching something that's coming to an end and it's a privilege to be a part of it.

From the Ask WNW vault…

April 2013: When will WWE realize Undertaker should always go last at Wrestlemania? Every year the crowd dies down after his matches no matter what happens next. - I agree, The Undertaker is impossible to follow at Wrestlemania. We’ve seen him do what he did at Wrestlemania 29 before (saving the show with an outstanding match) yet we all wondered going in what CM Punk would be able to get out of him. Here’s a guy that works one match a year and consistently puts on “match of the year” candidates. Following his match against CM Punk, the conversation has shifted. We need to start having serious debate on whether or not Undertaker is the greatest of all-time. I almost feel bad for even doubting what we would get out of the bout this year. Undertaker not only showed he hasn’t “lost a step” in the ring but his physical conditioning was very good as well. He certainly looked the part and did not disappoint.

The "Match of the Year" list is growing. I was wondering what your thoughts were on the following matches - Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan at Royal Rumble, John Cena vs. Cesaro from Raw, The Wyatt Family vs. The Shield at Elimination Chamber and now Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro.

I am glad someone asked this question and laid out the matches. This is my Match of the Year list through two months and it's phenomenal that we already have four bouts to choose from. This is a good problem to have and let's hope it's a "problem" that we continue to have to deal with. I want to be careful not to get carried away with the matches I have seen most-recently clouding my judgment but I will do my best to rank this list. Keep in mind you can't really go wrong with any of these matches and they should all be considered "must-see" bouts. However, if I had to rank them, as you've essentially asked me to do, I would rank them as follows:

  1. Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro at NXT ArRIVAL
  2. The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber
  3. Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt at Royal Rumble
  4. John Cena vs. Cesaro at Raw on February 17, 2014

Zayn vs. Cesaro is fresh but it's a slight notch above the rest in my opinion. The others could probably be interchanged and I would have no issue. However, I would much rather sit here and debate outstanding matches than have to scratch and claw to find something worthy of "Match of the Year" praise.

What's the latest on Steve Austin? Will he work at match at Wrestlemania 30?

Steve Austin is not in the plans to work a match at Wrestlemania 30. I believe it was John Cena that teased a bout against Austin at Wrestlemania 31 in Santa Clara, however, we're still over a year away from that. Austin is on good terms with WWE but there are multiple layers to him ever working another match. First, Austin has to have the desire to get back into in-ring shape. Second, he will have to agree to a sufficient payout to put his body on the line and offer up his services. I honestly don't know if we'll ever see Austin compete again. He made a good point recently when he said, say I train for one more match and work it, then what?

Why is Brock Lesnar getting the "golden ticket" to challenge The Undertaker at Wrestlemania? What has he done to earn the opportunity?

Undertaker requested a match against Brock Lesnar for Wrestlemania 30 before he faced CM Punk at Wrestlemania 29 last year. Undertaker felt it was one of the biggest matches they could do so he threw it out there. One of our correspondents from Wrestlemania 29 Fan Axxess met Undertaker and asked him if the bout against Punk would be his last. He pointed to Lesnar's picture and said he wanted a bout against this one. I've noted on numerous occasions that Undertaker vs. Lesnar for Wrestlemania 30 only hit one significant speed bump and that speed bump is obviously gone as the match has been announced.

Why are the fans so quick to bury Batista over Daniel Bryan?

The fan resentment with Batista starts and ends with how he was booked in the Royal Rumble match. He entered in a prominent spot and went over, while Daniel Bryan wasn't even booked for it. Fans haven't forgot and are very upset. Other people will point to Batista's ring shape and say he's getting gassed too easy and wasn't ready for such a top spot. I'm not as interested in talking about Batista's ring readiness as I am in talking about his booking. Babyface Batista has failed and it's time for a change. We noted a change was near and on this week's episode of Smackdown, he'll "tell the WWE Universe what he thinks about them." WWE should use the heat Batista is generating to their advantage by turning him in a big way, however, it will still not fix the bigger problem and that's the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestlemania. If Daniel Bryan isn't in the match, which appears to be the case, the audience is going to crap on it regardless. As for Batista, the audience at NXT ArRIVAL brought him up, as they chanted "a lot better than Batista" when Emma landed a sit-out powerbomb on Paige.

From the Ask WNW vault…

November 2013: Do you see Sami Zayn being a big name in WWE when he gets called up? - Sami Zayn, the former El Generico, is an extremely talented worker. He has all of the tools to have a credible run and is yet another well-seasoned name lurking in WWE developmental. I’m optimistic but there will be no way of knowing for sure until it happens.

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