WWE Network Issues, What Talent Think Of Roman Reigns, Tons Of Backstage News

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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, March 14, 2015 to Friday, March 20, 2015 as well as all five Ask WNW segments from the week. Use this newsletter as your own personal tool to catch up on any of the news that you may have missed during the week. Below is a table of contents:

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

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

WWE News

- Steve Austin was on “Inside MMA” on AXS TV for an interview with series host Bas Rutten. In it, he talked about CM Punk crossing over to MMA and talked about other WWE crossovers that he would like to see. You can watch a clip at this link. Austin stated he was excited for Punk’s first fight and said he would be cheering for him. When asked how Punk will do, Austin said it remains to be seen.

- Tickets for WWE SummerSlam 2015 went on sale on Ticketmaster.com on Saturday morning. They’re already sold out, so those wanting to go that did not get them will have to purchase them on the secondary market. I’m sure we’ll be monitoring prices. SummerSlam 2015 will take place Sunday, August 23, 2015 from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The show was originally scheduled for the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey but was moved because the venue closed. The Barclays Center is also scheduled to host Monday Night Raw the following night on Monday, August 24, 2015.

- It appears Uhaa Nation is finally headed to WWE.

Wrestling News World reader Paul Winstanley sent word that Nation lost a “Loser Leaves PCW” Match at Saturday’s Preston City Wrestling show. Nation reportedly cut a promo after the bout, where he announced his intentions to head to WWE.

Our latest update on Nation to WWE was in January, which followed our report that he was going through the company’s medical screening/drug testing pre-screening process. He had not signed at that time.

I Tweeted the news as you can view below:

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- Filming for the WWE Studios production "Interrogation" starring Edge and Lana began last week and continued over the weekend. Lana is not on the weekend loop as a result and Rusev worked alone at Saturday night’s WWE live event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Edge Tweeted this: Click here to load (if not loaded)

- Kevin Nash is expected to be announced for the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015 on next week's episode of Monday Night Raw (a week from this Monday). While we reported here on Wrestling News World Premium that Vince McMahon was letting him go in as Nash and not Diesel, we're told Vince is still trying to change Kevin's mind about it. To play it safe, production has created two Hall of Fame videos - one for Nash and one for Diesel, so they'll be prepared either way next week. For those that need some catching up, Vince was hoping Nash would go in as Diesel -- like Scott Hall went in as Razor Ramon -- so Nash could be inducted again as part of the nWo. Nash was so adamant that he go in as himself, he was willing to sit it out if he had to go in as Diesel. We heard last week Vince had lightened up and was willing to let Nash go in as himself. Now, it could go either way.

- There is a photo of Sting that was reportedly taken at the airport in Des Moines, Iowa that is circulating on Twitter.

You can view the original photo posted below:

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Obviously the speculation is that Sting will appear on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw, which will emanate from Des Moines. With his main event match against Triple H at Wrestlemania 31 only a couple of weeks away and Brock Lesnar not advertised, a Sting appearance makes logical sense. However, it’s important to note we cannot confirm Sting at the Raw venue at press time. It’s unlikely we’ll be able to confirm him either as WWE will likely keep him hidden. If Sting appears on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw, it will be expected. - WWE has confirmed that Larry Zbyszko will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015. An announcement along with his Hall of Fame video will air on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. According to Rolling Stone, Zbyszko will be inducted by Bruno Sammartino. CLICK HERE for coverage by WWE.com. CLICK HERE for details on the final inductee of the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015 and when it will be announced. Zbyszko will join “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rikishi, The Bushwhackers, Alundra Blayze and Warrior Award recipient Connor Michalek in the Hall’s Class of 2015. The 2015 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place the night before Wrestlemania 31 on Saturday, March 28, 2015 from the SAP Center in San Jose, California. We’ll have complete coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com. - Jey Uso was off live events this past weekend due to a shoulder injury. According to WWE, the injury occurred during the eight-man tag team match at last week’s Smackdown taping in Detroit, Michigan. Uso is scheduled to be reevaluated this week. CLICK HERE for coverage by WWE.com. As we explained in our live event coverage, Jimmy Uso worked shows in singles competition against The Miz. - The New York Post reported over the weekend that Vince McMahon’s stolen Bentley was recovered in The Bronx. The car — a charcoal- gray Bentley Continental Coupe — was valued at $189,900 and reportedly had a $100,000 sound system. CLICK HERE for coverage by the New York Post. - Mark Henry told radio hosts Sam Roberts and Peter Rosenberg that he’ll be with WWE until someone can consistently beat his ass. He said the only way he’d retire is if he feels like another big guy in tight clothing or someone he trusts tells him he looks like an old dude out there. You can watch a clip on Roberts’ YouTube channel at this link. - William Shatner and Dennis Haskins have inserted themselves into the ongoing Twitter feud between Zack Ryder and Adam Rose. Dot com covered their involvement at this link. - WWE reported Monday on dot com that NXT Champion Kevin Owens underwent surgery for a partial meniscectomy for a knee injury late last week. Owens noted he’s already walking without crutches and doing physical therapy at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, FL. CLICK HERE for coverage by WWE.com. Owens last worked on March 8, 2015 at the 2015 Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio. - Jimmy Jacobs is coming to work for WWE, Wrestling News World can independently confirm. We’re told Jacobs met with company officials at last week’s Smackdown taping in Detroit, Michigan. The current plan is for him not to work as an in-ring talent but on the creative side of things. While specifics are not immediately known, we heard they want him to work with new babyfaces on the main roster or down in NXT. - WWE has announced that rapper Snoop Dogg and ESPN personality Bill Simmons will be appearing on next Monday's Raw from Los Angeles. This will be the final Raw before WrestleMania 31. Dot com had this to say about the announcement:

As The Road to WrestleMania enters its final leg, rap icon Snoop Dogg and ESPN personality Bill Simmons will be paying the WWE Universe a visit. WWE.com can confirm that Snoop Dogg and Simmons will appear on the March 23 edition of Monday Night Raw, which will emanate live from Los Angeles’ STAPLES Center at 8/7 C on USA Network. Snoop, who is the keynote speaker at this year’s SXSW Music Conference and Festival, will be the show’s official guest star in advance of the May 12 release of his latest album, “Bush,” produced by Pharrell Williams. Simmons, the creator and editor-in-chief of Grantland.com as well as the host of the Grantland Basketball Hour and The BS Report podcast, will join JBL, Michael Cole and Booker T as a guest commentator. See what goes down when the Los Angeles luminaries join Monday Night Raw on March 23, live at 8/7 C on USA Network.

CLICK HERE for coverage on dot com. Also next week, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar will meet his WrestleMania opponent Roman Reigns face-to-face in the middle of the ring. - WWE announced on Monday that music artist LL Cool J will appear in the open of WrestleMania 31. Below is the article from dot com:

Television and movie star and Grammy Award-winning music artist LL Cool J will appear in the open of WrestleMania 31. The WWE Universe got its first look at LL Cool J’s involvement with The Showcase of the Immortals in a video that aired on the March 16 edition of Raw. Last year’s spectacular WrestleMania open paid tribute to the sights and sounds of host city New Orleans. What will be in store for the WWE Universe when LL Cool J joins the mix this year? It is not the first time the pioneering performer has joined forces with WWE, either. In March 2014, he joined “NCIS: LA” co-star Chris O’Donnell in attending a raucous edition of Monday Night Raw. In addition to his acting and music career, LL Cool J is also a shareholder of Rouse Social, a leading mobile app that aggregates all of the social media accounts from tens of thousands of artists, athletes and other celebrities into a single application. Rouse Social simplifies social media by displaying real-time feeds in multiple views and allowing users to engage with other social networks directly. The app, which pulls in from Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, SoundCloud, YouTube and many more social networks, can be downloaded from the iTunes and Google Play stores.

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

WrestleMania 31 will take place on Sunday, March 29, 2015 from the Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. We’ll have exclusive live play-by-play coverage right here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.

- GoldustHeath Slater and Mark Henry have officially been added to the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 31. Click here to view the full list of participants. - Coming out of this week's WWE Raw, Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins has officially been announced for WrestleMania 31. Orton was scheduled to face Rollins in the main event of Raw, until Seth had all of The Authority come out to help attack. Sting appeared in the ring after the lights went out and helped Orton clear the ring. - Michael Cole interviewed Orton and Sting right after Raw during an exclusive WWE Network segment. - WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar will meet his WrestleMania 31 opponent Roman Reigns face-to-face on next week's go-home Raw in Los Angeles. - After this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw went off the air, Michael Cole interviewed Randy Orton and Sting in the ring. The interview aired on the WWE Network and marks the first time Sting has spoken in a WWE ring. You can watch at this link. - In addition to Michael Cole’sinterview with Sting and Randy OrtonJohn Cena & Roman Reigns beat WWE United States Champion Rusev & Seth Rollins in a dark match main event following this week’s Monday Night Raw taping in Des Moines, Iowa. - Below are Raw Fallout videos posted to WWE’sYouTube channel following this week’s show: Bad News Barrett makes like a tree: Raw Fallout, March 16, 2015Every man for himself: Raw Fallout, March 16, 2015Nice guys finish first: Raw Fallout, March 16, 2015AxelMania still runs wild: Raw Fallout, March 16, 2015Mark Henry wants to make history: Raw Fallout, March 16, 2015 - The WWE Hall of Fame video of Larry Zbyszko is online at this link. - CJ noted that LL Cool J will appear in the Wrestlemania 31 opening video. WWE posted a video touting it that you can watch at this link - The WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015 appears to be complete with only one more announcement to go that will be Kevin Nash or Diesel (more on that). Below are the announced inductees:

  • ”Macho Man” Randy Savage - inducted by Hulk Hogan
  • Rikishi - inducted by The Usos
  • Larry Zbyszko - inducted by Bruno Sammartino
  • The Bushwhackers - rumored to be inducted by John Laurinaitis
  • Alundra Blayze
  • Arnold Schwarzenneger - Celebrity inductee
  • Connor “The Crusher” Michalek - Warrior Award recipient

The 2015 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place the night before Wrestlemania 31 on Saturday, March 28, 2015 from the SAP Center in San Jose, California. The ceremony will air live on the WWE Network at 8 PM EDT on Saturday night and will be preceded by a "Live from the Red Carpet" special beginning at 7 PM EDT. Click here to load (if not loaded)

We’ll have complete coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.

- Below is the updated Wrestlemania 31 lineup following this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw:

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match
- Brock Lesnar (c) w/Paul Heyman vs. Roman Reigns

Singles Match
- Triple H vs. Sting

Singles Match
- The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt

WWE United States Championship Match
- Rusev (c) w/Lana vs. John Cena

Singles Match
- Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins

Ladder Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
- Bad News Barrett (c) vs. R-Truth vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. Daniel Bryan

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Announced participants: The Miz, Curtis Axel, Ryback, Fandango, Adam Rose, Zack Ryder, Jack Swagger, Titus O'Neil, Darren Young, Big Show, Kane, Erick Rowan, Damien Mizdow, Sin Cara, Goldust, Heath Slater and Mark Henry.

Divas Tag Team Match
- WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella & Brie Bella vs. Paige & AJ Lee

Wrestlemania 31 will take place Sunday, March 29, 2015 from Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. We’ll have complete coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.

- There was a line on commentary by JBL on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw that many football (soccer) fans will find funny. After WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella delivered a right hand to AJ Lee during their bout on the broadcast, JBL stated it was, “like Phil Bardsley knocking out Wayne Rooney.”

You can watch the clip in a Vine below:

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The comment was in reference to a video The Sun out of the United Kingdom leaked on Sunday that featured Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney sparring in his home with Stoke City defender Phil Bardsley. In the video, Rooney hits the ground after taking a stiff blow to the face, presumably getting KO'd. Rooney made light of the now infamous video with an epic celebration following his goal during United’s 3-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur over the weekend. - WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt is fiercely defending the company against Konstantine Kyros. Kyros is the lawyer behind a series of aggressive lawsuits recently filed against WWE. One of those lawsuits is the wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Nelson Frazier Jr. (formerly known as Big Daddy V and Viscera). Below is an excerpt of McDevitt’s comments published on BostonHerald.com:

“They just ignore these things and allege whatever they feel like alleging,” McDevitt said. “You can’t do that as a lawyer. You have to be basing your allegations on a reasonable investigation of the facts. It’s not some creative writing exercise to see if you can get media attention.” “It’s an embarrassment to be a lawyer sometimes,” McDevitt said. “It’s ridiculous that someone can ... try to blame someone because a gentleman with a weight problem died of a heart attack in the shower eight years after he last performed. It’s ridiculous to try and blame someone for that.”

CLICK HERE to read the article on BostonHerald.com. - This week’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw garnered an average viewing audience of 3,919,000 viewers on the USA Network. That number is up +60,333 viewers from the week prior. Once again, the show was Monday’s top cable original, earning a 1.4 adults 18-49 rating, which was even from last week. TV by the Numbers has complete data at this link. Below is how the show did each hour: Hour one - 3,881,000 viewers Hour two - 3,961,000 viewers Hour three - 3,915,000 viewers The good sign here is the show gained audience each hour, totaling a gain of +241,000 viewers from hour one to hour three. - Rolling Stone has a new Q&A online with No. 1 contender Roman Reigns. Below are some of the highlights: Biggest goal at Wrestlemania 31 besides winning the title:

I just want to go out there and do my thing, and a lot of that is winning the WWE Championship. I can't stress enough how that title is everything for us. But for me, I would like to wake up and know, "Yeah, that was a five-star, you-can't-touch-that match." I'd like to be able to walk to the back thinking, "Can't one of y'all do that." If there's one thing I've shown, I'm not scared of physicality. I'm not scared to take some of my own blood. I play hurt, I play injured. I want people to take from that match that it was one of the most physical they've ever seen. That's something we're gonna be able to leave behind. When I said last night I was willing to be carried out, I wasn't joking.

If people underestimate how football prepared him for wrestling life even thought he didn’t travel the independent circuit:

Absolutely. I'm a firm believer in everyone has their own path. If we were all Seth Rollins, then there wouldn't be anything cool about that. It's neat that everybody has their own story. For me, I didn't have an indie background, but at the same time, there's a lot of things I dealt with just even in developmental. A lot of guys are like this and don't get enough credit for it. It's rigorous. You bust your ass in that warehouse. I was hurt, banged up, bruised, nicked. I crushed the brachial nerve that runs down your neck, I've lost all strength in my right side, had atrophy, but I still wrestled. I think I missed one show, like, the day it happened. People don't realize there's way more than what you know. You can Wikipedia me, but I guarantee you there's a whole lot more than what you're reading, and that goes for every superstar. Everyone's been through hell to get where they are, and I'm not gonna let anybody talk down on what I've done just cause I didn't do what Daniel Bryan or your other favorite wrestlers did. Don't mean I didn't earn my spot.

CLICK HERE to read the piece in its entirety. Richard Reacts: Roman Reigns clearly wants people to know that he paid his dues — and he did. While he may not have done it like Bryan, Rollins and Ambrose did it, he did pay his dues. However, I can’t help but read these comments and wonder if they’re the right thing to say. I’m not talking about any frivolous lawsuit, I’m talking about stories like Chris Borlandretiring after one year in the NFL due to concerns about head injuries. Again, I get what Reigns wants to do, I’m just not sure it’s what he should be saying right now. - There was a controversial story coming out of the crowd at this week’s WWE Monday Night Raw in Des Moines, Iowa. There was a group of fans dressed as former WWE personalities that were sitting in the front row, opposite of the hard camera. They were reportedly told they had to take off their costumes or give up their seats. Below are some Tweets from one of the guys that dressed up: Click here to load (if not loaded)

I’ve heard of WWE doing this type of thing before and it’s because they don’t want the audience distracting from stuff in the ring. I personally think WWE making people change is lame and thought the Savage and Warrior costumes were the best. It's a three-hour show, so what if people are intrigued by the audience? At least they're watching, right?

- WWE announced at this week’s Smackdown taping in Kansas City, MO that Tatsumi Fujinami will be inducted into their Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2015.

Fujinami is known for his work in New Japan Pro Wrestling and is a former 6-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion. He actually worked Ric Flair at SuperBrawl 1991.

Kevin Nash (or Diesel) will be the final inductee for the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015, with an announcement expected next Monday.

We have an updated list of 2015 WWE Hall of Fame inductees -- minus the new addition of Fujinami -- online at this link.

- The Advertiser out of Australia has a new article online featuring quotes from Daniel Bryan to promote Wrestlemania 31 in the country. In it, he discusses not getting to face Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the show but competing in the Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship instead.

Below is an excerpt:

“For a year, I had this vision of me wrestling (former UFC champion) Brock Lesnar in the main event for the WWE Championship,” Bryan says.

“But sometimes, when you don’t get what you want, you end up getting something better — like this ladder match.

“I think with the guys we have in that match and the excitement we can generate, we have a real chance of stealing the show.”

CLICK HERE to read the piece in its entirety.

- The story on WWEforcing the fans at Raw to change out of their epic costumes is as I expected. Production felt they were too distracting and would take away from the action in the ring, so they apologized and apparently offered freebies as compensation. Like I wrote in our original article, this isn’t the first time WWE has done this but I still think it’s lame.

- Wrestlemania Week is coming to the WWE Network. For complete details on the schedule — including Michael Cole’s interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Triple H that will air immediately after next week’s Rawclick here.

- The contract status of WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar continues to be a major topic of debate and even controversy as we continue to push forward to Wrestlemania 31. As of last Thursday, March 12, 2015, Lesnar had not reached an agreement with WWE on a new contract and was still only booked through the Raw after Wrestlemania on March 30, 2015.

It appeared that Lesnar’s relationship with WWE was on the brink of collapse — something that happened a little over a decade ago — when Brock left the February 23, 2015 Raw taping in Nashville, TN without appearing as advertised. Numerous accounts of a verbal confrontation with Vince McMahon were reported, with it being learned there are continued issues with Lesnar’s merchandise royalties going forward in WWE.

Brock has not been happy with what he’s made on merchandise. While he’s guaranteed a higher rate than a lot of guys, he feels that WWE has intentionally under merchandised him — not even featuring it at most shows — to keep from losing money on it. To solve the problem, Brock has requested on his new contract, he be guaranteed a set amount of his merchandise royalties. This would force WWE to push his merchandise to guarantee they didn’t lose money on it and he made his money no matter what.

Sources indicate that Vince McMahon feels this is a dangerous precedent to set and as of last week, had not backed down from his stance of “no deal.”

Of course there is the possibility that Brock’s “walk out” was some type of elaborate work as days later he was seen talking to Dana White at UFC 184 in Los Angeles, CA. While some may consider that a stretch, Vince is known to like to “toy” with White and what a better way to get some free promotion than have the WWE World Heavyweight Champion at a UFC pay-per-view? Further, WWE approved Paul Heyman mentioning Brock going to UFC by name in a promo on the March 9, 2015 episode of Raw.

As a result, there continues to be more optimism that Brock will sign a new deal with WWE and remain with them past March 2015.

Whether or not Brock re-signs with WWE will likely play a large part in how he’s booked in his WWE World Heavyweight Championship match against Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 31. However, there remains the possibility that WWE has to book him at the show without knowing his future.

Sources close to Brock Lesnar have maintained he wants to field offers from interested parties after his WWE contract is up but would Vince McMahon risk letting him walk after his biggest show of the year? Not to mention there are continued concerns in regards to the reaction towards Roman Reigns that he should be the guy to end The Beast.

Is this a case where Brock Lesnar goes over Roman Reigns and WWE utilizes the Money in the Bank briefcase and has Seth Rollins successfully “cash in?”

It’s truly not known what WWE will do but what we do know is we don’t know Brock Lesnar’s future past Wrestlemania 31. Not yet.

One reader wanted to know how Brock Lesnar could walk out of Raw while under contract and go unpunished. I’ve answered a variety of this question on a number of occasions but how are they going to punish him? If Brock’s “walk out” was legitimate, they certainly didn’t want to risk the Wrestlemania main event they’ve built for the past few months and were hoping cooler heads would prevail (and they did, as Brock returned and has actively participated in the push to the show). Obviously had Lesnar refused to work any further, WWE could sue him for breach of contract but that was a road they were hoping they wouldn’t have to travel down, which we now know they did not.

Some are worried Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 31 turns out to be nothing more than what Brock Lesnar vs. Bill Goldberg was at Wrestlemania XX in 2004 - a major letdown. Obviously that possibility is there but a lot has changed since Brock’s “final WWE match” 11 years ago. For one, Brock was brought back under an exuberant contract to work main event pay-per-view matches. He’s not upset with anything creatively and just wants a better deal with his merchandise royalties. He has no real reason to not at least try to put on an entertaining match, especially if he wants WWE to bid heavy on his services after the show (something that could very well happen as WWE could join UFC and Bellator all vying for Lesnar’s signature).

Furthermore, Reigns has as much if not more than anyone riding on the match against Brock Lesnar. This isn’t Goldberg from 2004. This is a guy looking to make a name for himself and he’s hungry to steal the show. He knows he has haters and he wants to prove them wrong.

Combine Lesnar wanting to keep as many parties interested in his services and Reigns hungry to prove himself with the fact the show is being held in an open-air stadium (to dull audience members looking to hijack the match), the probability of Lesnar vs. Reigns at Wrestlemania 31 becoming like Lesnar vs. Goldberg at Wrestlemania XX is unlikely.

All and all, Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns remains as intriguing outside of the ring as it will be in the ring. There continue to be a number of questions that won't be answered until Wrestlemania 31 ends in just over a week. What there won't be is a shortage of material to write about or side debates about each of the participants.

- WWE announced a conference call the day after Wrestlemania 31 on Monday, March 30, 2015 at Noon EDT to discuss the progress of the WWE Network. The call is similar to what the company does on a quarterly basis with investors and will discuss the progress of WWE Network’s level of subscribers following Wrestlemania and the 2015 programming schedule. Vince McMahon and George Barrios will host the call and we’ll have complete live coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.

- WWE announced a partnership with DraftKings on Wednesday. Official details are available at this link.

- WWE will tour Singapore this July. Click here for that announcement.

- John Cena talks up his program with Rusev in the latest sit-down interview with Michael Cole that you can watch at this link.

- Divas pick their dream opponents in the latest episode of WWE Inbox that you can watch at this link.

- WWE posted the following videos with The Miz and The Bella Twins to promote their new partnership with DraftKings:

Join WWE Superstar The Miz and check out DraftKings.com/WWE!
Join WWE Divas The Bella Twins and check out DraftKings.com/WWE!

- There continues to be a lot of frustration within WWE over the success of WWE NXT. While it usually pops up around the time NXT runs a special event on the WWE Network, the frustration is felt throughout the Divas division and within the company’s main roster undercard.

The feeling from many main roster workers is that NXT workers are given more chances to succeed by getting time to tell stories in the ring during lengthy matches. It's also worth noting many of the main event workers are not happy about main roster pay-per-views being shown up by the NXT special events.

Part of this frustration is part of what resulted in the departure of Justin Gabriel. Basically, Gabriel was tired of being used as a directionless enhancement talent and in situations where he worked under the Bunny costume with the Adam Rose gimmick. Gabriel finally had enough and has resumed his work on the independent circuit after requesting his release from WWE back in January.

Brie Bella got the attention of many when she stated at an appearance at Wizard World Indianapolis back in February that if she was working down in NXT, she wouldn’t want to be called up to the main WWE roster. She also admitted it was hard to tell a story in 3 minutes.

Internally, WWE is pushing the narrative that they understand talent frustrations and are working to improve things. As previously reported, a meeting was held at TVs last week to let talent know that management’s door is always open and that included issues within the company or other issues. It was stressed to come to them with situations and do not make them public.

Having written that, there are no plans to scale back on NXT, in fact, quite the opposite. WWE is looking to have NXT as a full touring brand by the end of the year or beginning of next. The recent shows in Ohio were seen as a major success.

- Roman Reigns (over Brock Lesnar), Sting (over Triple H), The Undertaker (over Bray Wyatt), John Cena (over Rusev), Randy Orton (over Seth Rollins), Dean Ambrose (for the IC title), Damien Sandow (Battle Royal) and Paige & AJ Lee (over The Bella Twins open the infamous international betting odds for Wrestlemania 31, according to PaddyPower.com.

Additionally, Seth Rollins is favored to NOT “cash in” the Money in the Bank briefcase.

What does this mean?

Not much of anything other than betting for WWE’s biggest show of the year has begun and the odds will now be popping up all over the place.

This marks our first comprehensive look at people trying to predict what will happen in 10 days.

International betting odds for WWE pay-per-view events have become very popular amongst the IWC but aren’t always telling of what will actually happen. Last year, Bray Wyatt was favored to beat John Cena, Undertaker was expected to dismiss Brock Lesnar and Cesaro wasn’t even in the top 5 to win the inaugural Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. And those were odds hours from show time, not from the initial lines released.

As far as creative plans go, we’re continuing to monitor and will post if we hear anything. Usually, Vince McMahon keeps the outcomes very close to his vest and I guarantee hasn’t made up his mind on a number of the matches. Even when he does, he’s been known to change his mind numerous times even hours before show time.

WWE has officially announced Tatsumi Fujinami as a WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015 inductee. You can read their coverage at this link.

You can watch Fujinami’s Hall of Fame video at this link. Kevin Nash (or Diesel) will be the final inductee for the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015, with an announcement expected next Monday. We first reported on Fujinami’s induction at this link.

- WWE Medical Director, Dr. Joseph Maroon, is under fire for controversial comments he made on the NFL Network regarding chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Maroon, who is also a Pittsburgh Steelers neurosurgeon and NFL medical consultant, said CTE is a "rare phenomena" and youth football is safer than riding a bike or skateboard.

While discussing the abrupt retirement of San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland, Maroon said the game has never been safer. He said CTE is a real problem but it’s “being over-exaggerated and being extrapolated to youth football and to high school football.”

Former WWE performer Chris Nowinski of the Sports Legacy Institute disagreed.

Nowinski told ESPN the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that regarding concussions, football is the most dangerous activity for boys age 10-14, causing more emergency department visits for brain injuries than both riding a bike or a skateboard. He concluded the same is true for boys age 5-9 but there are far more boys that ride bikes than play football.

CLICK HERE for coverage by ESPN.com.

Maroon co-developed ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) used by WWE to determine concussion severity and the timing for return to contact sports. It is also the standard of care for concussion management in the NFL, NHL, major league baseball, NASCAR and is used in over 2500 colleges and high schools in the United States.

- Sami Zayn hasn’t worked since February 20, 2015 due to a legitimate shoulder injury. This is why Zayn didn’t work the shows in Ohio or last weekend’s loop of Florida.

- Stardust is featured in the latest episode of Smackdown Fallout that you can watch at this link.

- WWE sent out an updated version of the WWE App that’s now available for free download in the App Store or Google Play. More than 16 million people have downloaded the App.

- While there has been a lot of talk amongst fans and pundits regarding whether or not Roman Reigns “is ready” to headline Wrestlemania 31, he remains very over with talent in the locker room. Reigns has been described as very likable, easy to teach and eager to learn. One WWE veteran boldly declared him the future and blamed his heat on the disastrous Royal Rumble match booking.

- Vince McMahon is planning at least one surprise for Wrestlemania 31. I don’t have specifics on what is being planned, as it could be as simple as the return of Sheamus, however, I’m told Vince wants a memorable moment that fans don’t see coming. I was told the same thing last year and Brock Lesnar ended the streak, so just keep that in mind.

- Things aren’t looking good in regards to the in-ring return of Santino Marella. Santino had neck fusion surgery in hopes he would be able to resume his in-ring career after announcing his retirement last summer. He suffered a setback in December when two of the screws inserted in his neck came out and all the hardware inserted in his neck had to be removed.

- Jey Uso wasn't officially ruled out for Wrestlemania 31 as of Monday at Raw. The plan was for The Usos to be one of the teams that challenged for the WWE Tag Team Championship but the shoulder injury has put his status very much in question.

- USA Today’s “For the Win” blog has a new article online featuring quotes from Daniel Bryam. In the piece, he was asked if he was surprised at the negative reaction towards the 2015 Royal Rumble match.

Below is his response:

I wasn’t really that surprised, I thought that a lot of fans wanted me to win the Royal Rumble… but it’s a great story, right? The guy who has never lost a title had to lose the title because of the neck surgery, comes back and he fights the guy who’s just this monster destroyer, a David versus Goliath story, and I think a lot of fans were excited by the prospect of that. And also by the prospect of a match of me versus Brock Lesnar, I feel like I do pretty good against big guys.

CLICK HERE to read the piece in its entirety.

- The latest episode of The JBL & Renee Show is online at this link.

WWE has posted the media schedule for their talent appearing on television next week to promote Wrestlemania 31. That schedule is included below:

Monday, March 23

Hulk Hogan on ESPN2’s “SportsNation,” 3 p.m. ET

Tuesday, March 24

Roman Reigns on TBS’s “CONAN,” 11 p.m. ET/10 p.m. CT

Roman Reigns on ReelzChannel’s “TMZ Hollywood Sports,” 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT

Roman Reigns on ESPN2’s “Sportsnation,” 3 p.m. ET

Wednesday, March 25

John Cena on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” 11:35 p.m. ET/10:35 p.m. CT

Friday, March 27

WWE Superstars guest star on E!’s “The Soup,” 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT

Saturday, March 28

The Rock on hosts NBC's "Saturday Night Live," 11:30 p.m. ET/10:30 p.m. CT

CLICK HERE for coverage by WWE.com.

- WWE posted a new feature on dot com titled - The 10 best Wrestlemania performers ever.

We’ll bring you the list below:

1) The Undertaker
2) Shawn Michaels
3) Hulk Hogan
4) ”Stone Cold” Steve Austin
5) John Cena
6) The Rock
7) Bret “Hit Man” Hart
8) Triple H
9) ”Macho Man” Randy Savage
10) Edge

CLICK HERE to read the piece in its entirety.

- WWE announced on Friday that there will be an NXT tournament at WrestleMania Axxess on Thursday. The winner will earn a spot in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 31.

Adrian Neville, Tyler Breeze, Finn Balor, and Hideo Itami have been announced for the tournament.

Click here for more details from dot com.

WrestleMania 31 will take place on Sunday, March 29, 2015 from the Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. We’ll have exclusive live play-by-play coverage right here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com.

Other News

- TNA Tag Team Champions The Wolves had to vacate the titles at Friday’s Impact tapings due to Eddie Edwards having a fractured heel. In a promo we covered in our taping results that will air on an upcoming episode of Impact Wrestling, Edwards said he’ll be out a long time and as a result, they cannot defend the titles. As the storyline went, Davey Richards wouldn’t pick another partner and decided to relinquish the titles until Edwards is healthy. We first broke the news of Edwards’ injury as it happened at the February 15, 2015 TNA Xtravaganza “One Night Only” tapings in Orlando. You can read our initial report at this link. We confirmed Edwards had a broken heel the next day.

- Ariel Helwani Tweeted the following on Friday that is sure to get a lot of people talking:

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- Speaking of CM Punk, Steven Muehlhausen interviewed UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis ahead of his UFC 185 title defense against Rafael Dos Anjos. In it, he talked about why Punk’s attitude has surprised him so far.

Below is an excerpt:

Pettis on Punk attitude surprising him: "Yes for sure. I just didn't know what to expect. You see him on TV. I met him a couple times. You really don't know what to expect from anybody. He came into the gym, you come into the practice room and you have two world champions on the floor, you have CM Punk, you have one of the most Olympic level wrestlers and everybodies is just training together. Everybody blends in and there's no superstar. There's no one person who gets more attention. Its just a team full of guys that all want to get better.”

CLICK HERE to watch the interview.

- Spike TV President Kevin Kay briefly spoke on preliminary talks with Ring of Honor in a new interview with BostonHerald.com.

Below is an excerpt:

“I’m not sure there is a deal there,” he said. “We’re just kind of getting to know each other. . . . I think for Spike, the big question is, do we want to get into the professional wrestling business in any way? And I don’t have the answer to that yet.

CLICK HERE to read the piece in its entirety.

We broke the story — that Spike had preliminary talks with Ring of Honor — here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium on February 17, 2015.

We reported at the time while ROH was intrigued by the idea, Spike would have wanted upgrades on the production front and some more mainstream names on their roster. Spike was not willing to cover the cost of said upgrades and that appeared to be a major sticking point for the promotion.

Some had speculated that "preliminary talks" meant Ring of Honor was "in negotiations" to bring a weekly ROH series to the network. We never reported that, a point I reiterated here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com on February 22, 2015.

- Last week’s episode of Impact Wrestling garnered an average viewing audience of 338,000 viewers on Destination America. That is down (-83,000 viewers) from the week prior and the lowest first run audience on their new network. The replay that followed did an average viewing audience of 76,000 viewers.

- TNA Wrestling is promoting a live episode of Impact on Friday, May 8, 2015 from Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. The company will also hold another set of Impact tapings from one of the SoundStages on May 9th, May 10th and May 11th.

- TNA Wrestling posted on their official website that Gunner will be acting in an upcoming action film produced by Throne Productions. Below is the press release:

BATON ROUGE, LA - Pro wrestling superstar Chad Lail, aka Gunner, will make his big screen debut with a lead role in the upcoming action film, The Battle of New Orleans (working title).

The film from Throne Productions is set for distribution by Anchor Bay and features an ensemble cast including Ed Quinn (Revenge, Eureka).

Lail, a former United States Marine and current professional wrestler will play a member of an elite Navy SEAL team who find themselves engaged in a battle with an unknown enemy during a mission in Louisiana. Principal photography is underway in Baton Rouge, LA.

Chad Lail is represented theatrically by the Alexander White Agency and can be seen in the ring on Friday nights as a member of the IMPACT WRESTLING roster on Destination America.

You can check this out on TNA's official website through this link.

It's stated that filming can happen as early as this summer with a possible release in 2016.

- CM Punk continues to train for his UFC debut at Roufusport MMA Academy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The current plan for Punk’s debut fight is for it to take place between October and December 2015, which means that currently, the following are possible dates:

UFC 192 on October 3, 2015
UFC 193 on November 14, 2015
UFC 194 on December 5, 2015

Right now, it has more to do with CM Punk’s progress with his training and he’s leaving that decision up to his trainers.

Regarding WWE, Punk has made it clear he has zero interest in ever returning. He’s fine with AJ Lee, his wife, working there and it’s the only WWE-related content that he watches on television. Punk has stated in media interviews that he doesn’t watch NXT and isn’t interested in it.

CM Punk isn’t backing down from his criticism of WWE and their working environment as he stated here that he “lived in a toxic bubble for like 10 years.”

- There is a fairly hilarious video making rounds on YouTube called “Wrestling Isn't Wrestling” featuring cameos from numerous independent workers. Basically, it’s a parody making fun of the creation of The Attitude Era through Triple H from DeGeneration X to Evolution back to DeGeneration X to WWE executive. The video is nearly 25 minutes long and contains language NSFW but it is well worth going out of your way to watch. Click here to watch now.

- Samoa Joe’s final match with TNA Wrestling is scheduled to air Friday on Destination America. Dixie Carter Tweeted the following about it:

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Joe officially departed TNA last month when he and TNA were unable to agree to terms on a new contract. - John Gaburick announced more talent news from his Twitter account on Friday. First, he announced that Robbie E and Bram have renewed their contracts with TNA Wrestling. He then announced Bobby Lashley has signed a new contract with TNA. The following is from Twitter: Click here to load (if not loaded)

- Kurt Angle beat Lashley to win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of this week's Impact Wrestling. This match marked the first time Angle and Lashley ever went one-on-one. Angle is now a six-time TNA World Champion.

- Rockstar Spud cashed in his Feast or Fired Briefcase on Low Ki to win the TNA X-Division Championship on this week's Impact. This is Spud's first championship in TNA.

- Jeff Hardy will "return" next week on Impact to face James Storm in a steel cage match.

Ask WNW

Why is there a debate about whether Kevin Nash goes into the WWE Hall of Fame as Nash or Diesel? Surely it would make sense for him to go in as Kevin Nash and celebrate he's career across all gimmicks and both WWE and WCW? And why wouldn't he then be able to go into the HOF again as part of the NWO?

First, allow me to catch everyone up. A situation we’ve been covering on Wrestling News World Premium has to do with the upcoming WWE Hall of Fame induction of Kevin Nash.

We reported here on Wrestling News World Premium that Vince McMahon had changed his mind on Kevin Nash going in as Diesel and was willing to let him be inducted as Nash. Nash was apparently willing to sit out the Hall of Fame if he had to go in as his WWE character, similar to how Scott Hall went in as Razor Ramon in 2014.

In an updated report — posted here on Wrestling News World Premium on Sunday - we noted that Nash will be announced as a WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015 on next week’s episode of Monday Night Raw (a week from tonight’s episode). Here’s the kicker. It’s unknown if he’ll be announced as Kevin Nash or as Diesel, as Vince has been trying to talk him back into going in as Diesel. We’re told WWE production has videos prepared for both.

As for why this is done, it’s anyone’s guess. I would assume for promotional purposes so that Vince can sell Diesel and then Nash again as a member of the nWo. I assume Hogan will be inducted as “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan when he’s inducted with the nWo.

While being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame is very much an honor, we all need to remember there is a very real promotional component to it.

The New York Yankees have fallen on tough times recently because, in large part, of their overwhelming arrogance and outdated philosophies and strategies. I wholeheartedly feel the WWE could be heading down the same road. Can you ever see at point and time (let’s say 20 or 30 years from now) where the WWE is a mere shadow of itself and another promotion sits atop the wrestling world?

I’m not trying to debate New York sports fans, but the Yankees are in a transitional period. Yes, some of their bad contracts are coming back to haunt them but they’re in the process of replacing some of the greatest players to ever play baseball. Mariano Rivera (who retired in ’13) and Derek Jeter (who retired in ’14) were two of the best ever. They also have to transition Alex Rodriguez to Designated Hitter, they’re still on the hook for the Mark Teixeira contract and they overpaid for my boy (former Atlanta Brave) Brian McCann. They’ll right the ship but that’s a lot of talent coming up at around the same time and they have to navigate through and have to do it without “The Boss.”

WWE is in a similar situation where it’s 2015 and they’re featuring Brock Lesnar, Sting, John Cena, Randy Orton and The Undertaker but to their credit, they’re trying to use them to bring up the new wave (Lesnar working Roman Reigns, Cena working Rusev, Orton working Rollins and Undertaker working Wyatt). The only bout that doesn’t have the potential to help an up and coming talent is Sting vs. Hunter, something Hunter himself wanted as a match.

I actually believe WWE has done a good job at not only keeping up with the times but getting ahead of the curb with their strategies. The evolution of the WWE Network and the WWE Performance Center are two huge undertakings that should keep competition far away from them for decades to come.

I do believe they need to ditch the part-time model but we’ve talk about that at excess. However, at the very least, they’re giving Reigns, Wyatt, Rusev and Rollins a share of the Wrestlemania spotlight. That’s a good thing and hopefully more than one is a perennial main event talent after this year’s show.

What do you think of the idea of introducing a Divas Money in the Bank briefcase? Could it possibly revamp the interest towards the Divas division?

A lot of readers have sent their ideas that #GiveDivasAChance and your idea isn’t a bad one, but my response is the same. WWE must make a philosophical change to the way they push their Divas if they are ever going to be anything more than a placeholder on television and pay-per-views. For as long as their screen time is limited and their title is buried, they will continue to be an afterthought.

Total Divas greatly helped raise the profiles of the Divas but it did little to nothing to change the perception of the Divas because the way they are booked on main roster programming. WWE has shown hints of actually giving the Divas a chance but they have a long way to go.

So to answer your question, a Divas Money in the Bank briefcase at this point would probably not help things. They have to start by giving Divas more screen time and follow up by restoring prestige to their title by booking the champion (Nikki Bella) in credible title defense matches.

So far this year's Wrestlemania build doesn't feel like anything more than another B level PPV with WWE seemingly sleep walking from one Raw to the next. Do you think this is something we might have to get use to in the "9.99" era?

The build to Wrestlemania 31 has suffered, that’s for sure. I believe the biggest thing has to do with the infrequent appearances of Brock Lesnar, Undertaker and Sting. While we can all look at the positives of holding Undertaker off until the show itself (they’ve done it before and it worked), missing all three from at least weekly Raw appearances is just inexcusable.

It’s probably safe to assume the thinking is holding these guys off TV will make their appearances a bigger deal but it’s almost impossible to build programs people care about with only half of the match showing up week in and week out.

So far, the build for the Intercontinental Championship has been the most consistent thing pushed on television for the past several weeks. Other than that, this show is riding the “name value” of its participants. With so many hours of weekly TV -- 3 hours of Raw alone -- it takes more than name value to keep people engaged on a regular basis.

What was up with Rusev’s lawyer on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw?

WWE casted a local fill-in to play the role of Rusev’s lawyer. He bombed. JBL buried him on commentary and usually when that happens, it’s a directive through the headset from Vince McMahon. I haven’t heard for sure but I assume that’s the case here. The person had the look but the accent left a lot to be desired and JBL made fun of it. I popped for JBL’s commentary but that’s not what WWE was originally going for with the “contract signing” segment.

Lana is away filming her role in the WWE Studios production “Interrogation” but what a poor time for her to be away. Rusev is less than two weeks from the biggest match of his career and WWE is casting local talent to talk for him. I have no idea why they decided to film at the peak of Wrestlemania season but it’s very bad timing.

Do you think the fans at Wrestlemania 31 will treat the Ladder match as the main event and just chant through the World Title bout?

In other words, do I think the fans at Wrestlemania 31 are going to attempt to hijack the show? I hope not and even if they do, the show is taking place in a open air stadium, so it won’t have near the effect as it did from Madison Square Garden during Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar 11 years ago.

I’ll be the first to admit the build for this year’s Wrestlemania has been lackluster. While there is a very solid argument that it has been bad the past few years, this year has been especially bad and place a large part of the blame on the sporadic appearances of the headliners.

With that said, I have no idea why someone would pay the type of money that it takes to attend only to try and hijack it. I’m not saying you aren’t free to chant what you want, but I would personally just go and enjoy the show. There is plenty of intrigue with several of the matches. What will happen with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship? Will Rusev go over? How will Sting look? Will The Deadman rise again?

While the build has suffered, it’s still Wrestlemania and sadly, it’s almost like WWE knows that and haven’t put the effort into building it weekly.

Wrestlemania 31 will be the fourth Wrestlemania in a row in which the main events are highly dependent on part-time talent. Do you think we will reach a point where this strategy is no longer effective and the WWE returns to relying almost exclusively on full time talent (with the occasional celebrity and/or part timer) as they did for the first 27 years of Wrestlemania?

I hope the usage of part-time talent is near its end. I was a huge fan when it first started, arguing that I wanted to see the most talented and most entertaining at the biggest show of the year. But as they do with so many other things, WWE has failed to utilize moderation and we’re left with weeks of programming without the Wrestlemania headliners.

As I’ve previously stated, I understand what WWE is going for in limiting the appearances of Brock Lesnar, Sting and The Undertaker. It just hasn’t worked. If it was just one of the three — like Undertaker — then so be it but week after week of pre-tapes just aren’t enough in 2015. Take Sting for example.

He showed back up on Raw and it was good but much is still unanswered. Is his bout against Triple H going to end The Authority once and for all or is this just a speed bump at The Authority will continue on as usual after Wrestlemania? While such a question could be answered next week, isn’t a little odd we’re asking questions like this less than two weeks from the biggest show of the year.

Most of us are going to watch Wrestlemania because it is Wrestlemania but as I stated above, it’s almost like WWE knows that and haven’t put together a sufficient effort in building this show.

What are your predictions for Wrestlemania 31?

It’s too early for me to talk predictions but I’ll be glad to tell you what I want to see happen at Wrestlemania. First and foremost, I want a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Whether it’s Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins or someone else, a change is in order. I’ve absolutely hated Brock Lesnar’s reign and part-time status and feel it’s time for WWE’s biggest title to be in play on at least a monthly basis.

I want to see Rusev, Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins all firmly established as top talent following the show. I’m not saying they all must go over clean but they must be booked very carefully and be put in positions to succeed.

After Wrestlemania, the part-timers will go back to their lives while the main WWE roster will head overseas for a two-week tour. It’s on that tour where I hope to see the next wave firmly established, progressing the company forward without having to rely on part-timers.

What are your thoughts on WWE ordering fans to remove their costumes?

I am not surprised or even outraged that WWE made the 10 fans in the front row at Raw change out of their epic costumes. They’ve done this kind of thing before and will probably continue to do this type of thing. I just think it’s super lame and cannot understand the rationale behind it.

As long as people aren’t breaking the law or promoting a product, I see no reason why they shouldn’t be able to wear what they want. Especially if it’s dressing as their favorite WWE personalities to a WWE show! Think about how ridiculous the company is being over this. Passionate fans that care enough to purchase front row seats and go to the trouble of dressing up like past Superstars only to get told they have to take them off or move from the front row. Come on, man!

It’s stuff like this that makes me cringe every time Stephanie McMahon says WWE is all about putting smiles on people’s faces. It’s like the Be-A-Star anti-bullying campaign. WWE does certain things to improve their corporate image and reputation but when it comes to acting out these “core values” or initiatives, they don’t do it.

I read on another wrestling news site that Brock Lesnar has signed a new deal and that due to the lack of reactions towards Roman Reigns that he will will retain at Wrestlemania 31. Further, Daniel Bryan and John Cena will win the Intercontinental and United States titles respectively and headline when Brock is away. Have you heard anything like this?

Wow, so it’s settled? Roman Reigns will “do the honors,” the secondary titles will become the company’s new showcase and Brock Lesnar is with WWE for at least another year.

That sounds far-fetched. Let’s unpack this a little.

I checked on Brock Lesnar’s status last week after Paul Heyman went out and mentioned UFC in his promo. I was told Brock still does not have a new deal with WWE and still wants a guarantee on his merchandise. Vince McMahon was still not budging, so nothing was signed. You can read that exclusive report at this link.

Brock wasn’t at Raw this week and while I do not have an update on his contract status beyond my report from last Thursday, I find it hard to believe he didn’t have a deal after TVs last week but suddenly has one when he wasn’t there this week. Anything is possible and a new deal is not out of the question but it seems to be going a little far to assume he’s signed a new deal AND will go over Roman Reigns. While there have been concerns about reactions towards Reigns, he’s a guy they’ve been planning to push for well over a year.

As for Daniel Bryan and John Cena winning the Intercontinental and United States titles respectively, I understand the rationale, I’m just not sure I believe it. WWE hasn’t booked either title prominently for years and we’re supposed to assume they’ve made a philosophical change with their secondary titles and are going to restore them to prominence? If they were going to do that, shouldn’t it have been done months ago when the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was essentially killed off television?

We’ll continue to monitor Brock Lesnar’s WWE status and what we hear regarding creative plans for Wrestlemania 31 but for now, take this rumor with a grain of salt.

If WWE books Wrestlemania 31 correctly, at least one of Bray Wyatt and Rusev should go over. I think that the one that goes over should be the No. 1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. What are your thoughts?

I don’t know if that’s the right way to look at it. As long as Bray Wyatt and Rusev come out of Wrestlemania 31 as bigger acts than they went in, then the booking was successful. To say one of them has to go over for the show to be booked correctly, is drawing a pretty bold line that will only setup unrealistic expectations. Talent can be elevated in a loss.

As for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture, I just want there to be one after Wrestlemania. I will draw a very bold line and state that I believe Brock Lesnar’s title reign must come to an end and the title must be included on the company’s post-Wrestlemania overseas tour. Whether it's Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins or someone else, a chase for the title is something I believe most fans want to see. Hopefully, Bray Wyatt and Rusev are well on their way to the perineal main event in April.

Is Sting going to be around after Wrestlemania? I have been watching WWE on a regular basis now, and it's because of Sting. It feels like 1997-1998 again to me.

If you’ve been watching WWE television just for Sting, you’ve probably been disappointed. His appearances have been few and far in-between and I personally believe the build to Sting vs. Triple H has left a lot to be desired. There are a lot of stories that can be told but the story they’re telling doesn’t seem to make sense. If you’re tuning in just for the chance Sting shows up, you probably enjoyed this week’s Raw.

I do not know Sting’s status moving forward but I believe it’s safe to say he won’t be used for anything more than he is now. In other words, if they use him again, it will be on a very limited basis for another match reserved for a top pay-per-view. Some want Sting vs. The Undertaker as a “retirement match” at Wrestlemania 32 but I’m not one of those people. If WWE was going to do it, it should have been this year. It’s time to end the part-time era and trust the full-time talent can sell a show like Wrestlemania.

If we fast forward to this time next year, who do you think should be main eventing Wrestlemania 32?

If we look at the up and comers in the main events this year - Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt, Rusev and Seth Rollins — it’s not hard to imagine this group comprising the main events for Wrestlemania 32 next year but I’m not optimistic. It’s my hope that at least one of the aforementioned names are a perennial main eventer by this time next year, however, will WWE trust their up and comers to fill AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas or will they once again load the show up with part-time talent?

I believe it’s time to end the era of part-timers and focus on the next wave of talent but that’s obviously not my decision. It was fine when WWE used to bring back one or two names for Wrestlemania season but now we’re to the point where every main event involves one of these names. That’s why it’s imperative WWE use this year’s show to help establish the new guys so they aren’t in this situation each and every year.

How do you feel about where Goldust has wound up at Wrestlemania? A match between the Rhodes brothers has been talked about for years and is wanted by both of them. So how do you feel about there being no followup after Fastlane and Goldust being shoved in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal?

WWE was too late on Goldust vs. Stardust for Wrestlemania and I agree with their decision to do it at Fastlane and move on. If they wanted to do it at Wrestlemania they’ve had an opportunity for the past few years and for whatever reason, chose not to. Goldust is a great reliable veteran that has tapped into a fountain of youth that has surprised everyone. I respect his work and his commitment to the business but he’s clearly in the latter stage of his career.

Cody Rhodes, on the other hand, is a worker that I continue to feel is underutilized and is capable of more. Rhodes is one of those guys that has gotten over every gimmick he’s been asked, yet he always hits a wall at the midcard. He’s a guy I wish WWE would give some momentum to see what happened.

I've been watching WWE for many many years and Wrestlemania has always been very well prepped and sold as a must see. This year it's seriously lacking to the point where I don't really care if I see it or not, which says a lot for their biggest annual show. What is this attributed to? A new cheap fee of 9.99? Laziness of the bookers?

I attribute the bad build to Wrestlemania 31 to the limited schedules of Brock Lesnar, Sting and The Undertaker. As I’ve discussed previously, leaving a worker off TV until the pay-per-view itself can work for one talent but to have three out of four of the main events feature talent that barely appear on TV, it’s a problem.

Vince McMahon believes limiting the appearances of Brock Lesnar and Sting makes it a bigger deal when they do appear. That sounds good in theory but the problem is Raw is three hours every week and Smackdown is two. That’s five hours of main roster programming and it can feel much longer when they don’t appear at all.

What’s the deal with The Ascension?

The Ascension have failed on the main WWE roster and are currently being used as enhancement talent. I know people have questioned their conditioning, work and overall abilities but they were done absolutely no favors by the WWE creative team. Believe it or not, at one time, The Ascension was one of the most talked about gimmicks in NXT.

But those days are long gone and it’s back to the drawing board for Konnor and Viktor. I guess WWE could reheat them after Wrestlemania but given how badly their call-up has worked out, they have little motivation to do so.

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