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CM Punk & AJ Lee Getting Married Next Month; Punk Interacts With Fans (Photos), Daniel Bryan's Injury, Top WWE Name Not Working Explains How WWE Network Is Ripping Off Workers, First Details On New Tough Enough Cast, Vince McMahon "Loses Interest" In Main

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Welcome to the Premium Newsletter. This is where you will find all of the big news and Ask WNW segments from the week neatly archived for your viewing pleasure. This week's edition covers news from Saturday, May 17, 2014 to Friday, May 23, 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

- WWE included an update on WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan on this week's episode of Smackdown. You can watch it at this linkBryan underwent a procedure known as a cervical foraminotomy to decompress the nerve root in Pittsburgh, PA on Thursday under the care of Dr. Joseph Maroon. WWE has not announced a timetable for his return, however, there will be an update on the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on next week's episode of Monday Night Raw in London, England.

- WWE is being investigated by former Attorney General of Louisiana, Charles C. Foti, Jr., Esq., a partner at the law firm of Kahn Swick & Foti, LLC, as to whether the company or its officers and directors violated state or federal securities laws by overstating the value of their new domestic TV licensing agreement.

Daniel Moore, an analyst with CJS Securities, said in a research note that, “Given management’s more optimistic tone and the fact that other major sports franchises have garnered much higher increases, this outcome is likely to be viewed as disappointing by many investors.”

A complete press release on the investigation is available at this link.

A similar investigation claim was reported back in April. WWE stated that claim had no substance or merit.

Friday was a horrible day for WWE as the company experienced fallout from their underwhelming new TV agreement with NBCUniversal. The company's stock went into free fall, Vince McMahonlost nearly one third of his net worth and an investment firm called for WWE to fire management or explore selling the business.

- TMZ caught up with The Bella Twins in New York City on Thursday as they were in town for Upfront Week. You can check out their coverage with video at this link.

- The Animal has evolved… Check it out in this week's episode of Smackdown fallout at this link.

- It's been quite the week for WWE as they announced their new domestic TV licensing agreement with NBCUniversal. While the company had indicated to investors they would double or triple what they made annually in TV licensing fees, the deal saw a moderate increase that underwhelmed.

Below is a complete timeline of events leading up to and following the announcement of WWE's new deal with NBCUniversal:

Wednesday, May 14, 2014: WWE's stock price closes strong on reports the company has reached a new domestic TV agreement with NBCUniversal.

WWE Stock Closes Strong

Thursday, May 15, 2014: WWE announces new multi-year TV distribution agreement with NBCUniversal. It's learned the company will increase annual TV licensing fees across the world to approximately $200 million.

Friday, May 16, 2014: WWE's stock price drops over 45% as Wall Street reacts to the news.

WWE Stock Decline

Friday, May 16, 2014:Vince McMahon's net worth declines nearly 1/3, losing over $340 million as a result of the selloff. The hit is strong enough to take him off the billionaire's list. According to the real-time wealth tracker of Forbes, McMahon's net worth is now estimated at $750 million (down from an estimated $1.2 billion in March 2014).

Friday, May 16, 2014: WWE announces that Vince McMahon and Chief Financial Officer George Barrios will hold a Business Outlook conference call on Monday morning at 11 AM EDT.

Friday, May 16, 2014:Lemelson Capital Management, a private investment management firm, announces they have a stake in shares of WWE and are calling on the Board of Directors to replace the executive management team or explore the sale of the business.

Saturday, May 17, 2014: Former Attorney General of Louisiana, Charles C. Foti, Jr., Esq., a partner at the law firm of Kahn Swick & Foti, LLC, announces that KSF has commenced an investigation on whether WWE and/or its officers and directors violated state or federal securities laws.

Alex Riley returned to the ring this Friday at the NXT live event in Tampa, Florida. He and Kalisto went under to Viktor in the main event match. Riley has transferred over into an announcer role over the last several months as he has participated in many of the pre-show and post-show panels on the WWE Network.

- The other notable happening coming out of last night's event was Enzo Amore was at ringside with Colin Cassady. Amore has been out of action for several months after suffering a broken leg.

- CM Punk sung "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at Saturday's Cubs/Brewers game and spoke with the announcers about AJ Lee. In the appearance, he announced they're getting married in June and that he was going to "get destroyed" for getting her on camera.

Below are videos:
CM Punk talks about AJ Lee at the Cubs game
CM Punk sings 7th inning stretch

- WWE will tour Europe again in November, taping television in Liverpool, England.

- CM Punk returned to Twitter on Sunday, posting his first Tweets since walking out of WWE in January. We've heard from readers that got to meet Punk at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Saturday. He was in good spirits and took photos with fans as did his fiancée AJ Lee. Below is a photo that I was tagged in on Facebook:

- Daniel Bryan thanked fans for their support after undergoing neck surgery on Thursday. The following is from his verified Twitter account:

Our latest injury update on Bryan and update on the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is available at this link.

- Former WWE star Luke Gallows and Amber O'Neal were married last Tuesday night in Florida. Former 434-day WWE Champion CM Punk attended with AJ Lee. Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins were there. There were a lot of TNA names in attendance, including Bully Ray, The Beautiful People and Samoa Joe. Matt Hardy, Mickie James and Colt Cabana were there. Punk hung out with some of the guys the following day but didn't want to talk about his situation with WWE and people respected that. He did tell people that he is serious about retirement and said the boys are getting ripped off with the switch to the WWE Network. As we reported here at, there is anger and outrage over pay-per-view bonuses getting cut with the move.

- Scott Hall pulled out of a weekend appearance in California due to "medical problems." The WWE Hall of Famer Tweeted the following:

Jake Roberts stated on a recent episode of Roddy Piper's podcast that Scott had "slipped up a little bit" and the speculation has gone from there.

- This week's episode of After Total Divas is now online at this link.

- WWE held a conference call with investors on Monday to go over the recent decline of WWE's stock price, which resulted in Vince McMahonreportedly losing $340 million. I was on the call on behalf of and compiled the following notes:

Michael Weitz opened the call by reading a prepared statement to open the conference call. He announced Vince McMahon.

Vince McMahon thanks the listeners for tuning in. He mentions that he is in London for Raw, so he apologizes for any audio problems. He said he tried - he isn't sure as to whether he failed - to provide transparency in regards to WWE Network. He says WWE has always prided itself on being transparent, which is why this call is taking place. He said he was disappointed in the NBCU deal but, when you look at worldwide TV deals, WWE nearly doubled their deals. It's less than what he wanted, but still a good deal.

He calls WWE Network the most important initiative in the company. WWE has invested significantly in it and has seen significant growth in it. Ratings and live event attendance are solid. He says WWE is blazing a new trail, and wants to be entirely transparent with this new business model. He then hands the call over to George Barrios.

George Barrios recaps the timeline of the creation of WWE Network. Their business analysis had come to the conclusion that their content was undervalued. He goes over how their worldwide deals will result in a significant increase in revenue. The global expansion of WWE Network will be a profitable step. If their goal of 1.3-1.4 million worldwide WWE Network subscribers is reached by 2015, it would generate approximately $40 million, which would be equal to the company's pay-per-view business in 2012. If WWE Network were to surpass 2 million subscribers by 2015, the company would see income in the range of $125-$200 million. Additional company investments include increasing international presence, costs related to the WWE Performance Center, and other costs.

He reiterates that having reached nearly 670,000 WWE Network subscribers around WrestleMania season, they foresee a steady increase over the rest of the year. He outlines WWE's 5-part strategy to gain subscribers: creating new compelling content, opening the Network globally, expanding the distribution platforms, developing new features, and developing high-impact marketing campaigns.

He then turned the call over to a Q&A session with investors:

A caller asked about how WWE had previously said that the launch of the WWE Network would not negatively affect television deals. Vince says that the Network certainly affected the deals negatively. He said that if he had waited until the television deals were completed, however, he would have had to wait another year to launch the Network, as the goal was to release the Network around the strongest part of the year, WrestleMania season. He called it a "chicken or the egg" situation.

A caller asked if investors should assume the dividend is safe. Barrios says that if WWE is successful with its business strategy, they have support to protect the dividend. It just requires successful execution over the next 12 months. Vince says that over-the-top content is the future, and we will likely be seeing more and more of it as time goes on.

There were connection problems, so the call was put on hold while fixes were being made.

A caller asked about the leadership of the Network, and why it saw a high rate of turnover. Barrios says that WWE is comfortable with the Network team right now, and they weren't going to go into specifics as to why specific people were let go. He then asked about the current WWE Network subscriber rate. Barrios said that WWE had previously announced that they would announce subscriber numbers quarterly, so they will be sticking to that. Regarding the strength of the Network, Barrios said that WWE would be financially solid even if the Network were to not be successful.

A caller asked about television demographics, and posited that the current rate of subscribers on WWE Network may be due to a large amount of viewers not having significant disposable income. Barrios said that the WWE Universe is diverse enough that such concerns were not an issue.

Barrios said that WWE's worldwide investments will result in steady WWE subscriber growth.

Barrios said that the business model that WWE is moving to is one that they have historically never used. He says that WWE knows where it is on the timeline of the WWE Network, and adding additional costs to the Network is not something they feel they need to do at this time, although it is an option to consider in the future.

In terms of where WWE sees itself a year from now, Barrios projects WWE Network to be in "steady state," but he reiterates that WWE is still learning from this new business model. He expects WWE to have costs in check within 18 months, but in the interest of transparency, he can't promise that with absolute certainly. He says WWE at its core are promoters and marketers, and while he doesn't want to "let the cat out of the bag," but we will see greater focus on marketing in the future. WWE will measure the effectiveness of its WWE Network marketing through consistent growth, as opposed to a set threshold.

A caller notes that WrestleMania season is likely where WWE will see much of its subscriber growth, but asks whether the holiday season is also expected to be especially profitable, given that many WWE watchers may "have to ask Mom and Dad for the Network." Barrios says that every hour of every day is a good time to be looking for subscribers, not just a certain season. He says he doesn't want to give the impression that he has insight that WWE doesn't have at this time. In a year or two, he may be able to look back and say when a certain season is particularly effective, but at this time, it would be conjecture.

Barrios thanked everyone for listening to the call, and hoped that the call shed light on any concerns.

- Triple H is featured on the cover of the June 2014 issue of Muscle & Fitness Magazine. Dot com has more at this link.

- The Shield sat down with MTV UK to talk Roman Reigns' eye injury, their favorite crowd chants, Reigns being labelled "the next big thing," and more. Click here to watch.

- Jim Ross posted a new blog to his official website in which he discusses WWE's recent financial woes, why he prefers Smackdown live, WWE Legends House, and more.. Below is an excerpt:

Many financial outlets writing gloom and doom for WWE after the announcement of WWE's new rights fees deal with NBC/Universal which essentially keeps WWE on USA and SyFy for the next few years. The new rights fee was less than expected/predicted but I can certainly see light at the end of the tunnel. The key driver is to earn more fans and develop regular consumers of their core product. How is that done?

No mystery...develop new, hot stars that are embroiled in reality based, personal issue storylines on a consistent that all fans can emotionally invest in while watching easy to follow TV broadcasts. That process takes time, the right talents, plausible creative, and keeping the process simple but stimulating.

Click here to read the full article.

- WWE held a Business Outlook call with investors on Monday to try and ease concerns after the announcement of their new domestic TV deal with NBCUniversal. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to make the call, however, Brooks Oglesby recapped it exclusively for

In the call, Vince McMahon, in England for TVs, admitted they were "somewhat disappointed" with WWE's new domestic TV agreement. However, he explained it was still a good deal when you look at the company's worldwide TV deals.

It was also discussed how the WWE Network hurt negotiations for a new TV deal but that WWE didn't want to wait another year to launch it.

McMahon told Brad Safalow of PAA Research on a conference call on August 1, 2013 that if WWE didn't double their TV rights fees, he could put him in a hammerlock. Safalow was on Monday's call and asked questions but didn't mention the bit from last year.

Ultimately, the call was done to promote transparency and restore investor confidence by explaining the company is learning a new business model. WWE's stock was trading at $10.99 as of this writing and has been trading on a range of 10.77 - 11.91 for the day.

- The latest on KENTA coming to WWE is that he is waiting for his visa to clear, according to a report by Puroresu Spirit. KENTA is unable to discuss his situation publicly until his WWE contract is finalized.

Puroresu Spirit's complete update is embedded below:

Post by Puroresu Spirit.

- WWE released a kayfabe video on dot com with Daniel Bryan responding to Triple H'scomments from last week that him needing surgery proves that he's not an A+ player.

Bryan said that Hunter's comments were a load of crap. He said he's been wrestling for 15 years around the world and this is the first surgery he's had. Bryan said he wrestled a style that Triple H could never do.

He said there's never a good time to get injured but Triple H can use this to spout his propaganda. Bryan said fighting through adversity and overcoming it, that's what builds real strength. Bryan said he's not opposed to WWE taking the title from him and fighting for it again. He said the fans deserve a true WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

Click here to watch the video in its entirety.

- WWE and E have announced details for Total Divas Season 3. The season will premiere on Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 9p/8c and Rosa Mendes will be added to the cast.

She Tweeted the following:

- Hulk Hogan is booked for Tuesday's Smackdown taping in London, England. - Wrestling News World reader Jorge Romero Tweeted the following to me:

- Last week's episode of WWE Smackdown garnered an average viewing audience of 2,490,000 viewers on SyFy. TV by the Numbers has more data for the night available at this link.

- It was announced on the Raw Pre-Show that Evolution vs. The Shield is now a No Holds Barred Elimination Match. This match will take place at WWE Payback on June 1st in Chicago, Illinois.

- Stephanie McMahon came down to the ring on Raw to address the status of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. She said she is considering stripping Daniel Bryan and awarding it to someone else. But, she is inviting Bryan to next week's Raw to surrender the title himself.

Summer Rae returned on Raw from London, England. Summer came down and kissed Fandango and then brawled with Layla. Summer Rae has been off filming The Marine 4 with The Miz.

- Rob Van Dam won the Beat the Clock Challenge on Raw to become the #1 Contender to the Intercontinental Championship. Big E beat Ryback in the first match and Rob Van Dam beat Alberto Del Rio in the second match. Dolph Ziggler vs. Mark Henry ended with no winner in the final match, making RVD the winner. Bad News Barrett will defend the Intercontinental Championship against Rob Van Dam at WWE Payback.

- The Shield beat The Wyatt Family in a dark match main event following Monday's Raw taping in London, England.

- A returning Summer Rae is featured in this week's episode of Raw Fallout. Click here to watch.

- 16,991 was the announced attendance at this week's Monday Night Raw taping from the London O2 in London, England. The show was a legitimate sellout.

- Sheamus and Drew McIntyre read the sports news in Sky Studios to promote WWE's shows. You can watch at this link.

- This week's episode of Total Divas did an average viewing audience of 1,313,000 viewers on E. The show rebounded from a series low 750,000 viewers from the week prior. TV by the Numbers has more data for Sunday available at this link.

- Ademi & O'Reilly, LLP announced on Tuesday they are investigating WWE for possible securities fraud. In a press release, the firm stated they are looking into inaccurate statements made regarding WWE's business practices, financial statements and prospects. You can read more about their investigation at this link. This comes on the heels of an investigation by former Attorney General of Louisiana, Charles C. Foti, Jr., Esq., a partner at the law firm of Kahn Swick & Foti, LLC, as to whether the company or its officers and directors violated state or federal securities laws by overstating the value of their new domestic TV licensing agreement.

- Stephanie McMahon and Hulk Hogan participated in a live Web chat with Mirror Online in the United Kingdom. Hogan is booked for Tuesday's Smackdown taping in London, England where he will serve as the show's host. You can watch at this link.

Speaking of Stephanie, her segment on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw had to be edited because of very loud "CM Punk chants." When the segment was first taped, it was nearly inaudible to the live crowd and that's what resulted in some confusion regarding the status of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

As things currently stand, McMahon has "ordered" Daniel Bryan to relinquish the title on next week's Raw in Knoxville, TN because it's "best for business."

- Wizard World announced on Tuesday that John Cena, Batista, Bray Wyatt, Bruno Sammartino and WWE Divas Champion Paige are scheduled to attend Wizard World Chicago Comic Con on Aug. 21-23 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill. Complete details are available at this link.

- The WWE Legends talk about Tony Atlas' cooking in this Legends' House exclusive.

- This week's episode of WWE Monday Night Raw did an average viewing audience of 3,763,333 viewers on the USA Network. While the number was significantly down, the show was taped and traditionally draws a lower audience.

Below is how the audience broke down by hour:

Hour one - 3,535,000 viewers
Hour two - 3,903,000 viewers
Hour three - 3,852,000 viewers

TV by the Numbers has more data online at this link.

- Digital Spy interviewed WWE Divas Champion Paige at this link.

- WWE NXT Champion Adrian Neville beat Sami Zayn in a dark match at Tuesday's television tapings in London, England.

- Mick Foley's big decision is that he's bringing the fanny pack back. You can watch his promo at this link.

- WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan is scheduled to appear live at Monday Night Raw in Knoxville, TN next week. While he hasn't been added to the official list of advertised talent, he's been added locally.

The local information on the Thompson Boling Arena's website reads as follows:





Card is subject to change

As the storyline goes, Bryan will be "ordered" by The Authority to surrender the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Bryan underwent cervical foraminotomy, a minimally invasive microsurgical , last Thursday. A timetable for his return to the ring has not been announced.

- Bill Goldberg is featured on the latest episode of The Ross Report podcast with Jim Ross. In it, he spoke about talks with WWE and spoke about Brock Lesnar, Triple H and Roman Reigns as possible opponents for him. Goldberg talked about issues with Triple H and said they would have "unfinished business" until the day he died. He spoke about having unfinished business with Lesnar in the ring due to their "piss poor" match setting at Wrestlemania XX. You can listen to the interview in its entirety at this link. We extensively covered Goldberg's negotiations with WWE to work Wrestlemania XXX in our Backstage News section. Ryback was the name first pitched to him before Reigns was pitched. When they got close on money, there were creative issues. When money became an issue, negotiations ended.

- Below is the updated lineup for WWE Payback:

Last Man Standing Match
- John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt

No Holds Barred Elimination Match
- The Shield vs. Evolution

WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
- Bad News Barrett © vs. Rob Van Dam

WWE Payback will take place Sunday, June 1, 2014 from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois on the WWE Network. We'll have exclusive live play-by-play coverage here at

- Adam Pearce has been working as a guest trainer at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida this week. Here's a photo he Tweeted from the facility:

- Yahoo Finance does a good job in breaking down WWE's issues stemming from their new domestic TV agreement with NBCUniversal and expectations for the WWE Network. They look at the hype generated by WWE and then examine the numbers. Click here to read the piece in its entirety. - We learned back in April through confidential WWE documents that leaked online that The Great Khali was away from the company until May 24, 2014. I am now able to confirm that Khali has been in India and recently participated in the annual "sign on at the station" to continue his service as a member of law enforcement. - Triple H and Michael Cole taped this week's kayfabe interview on Tuesday prior to this week's Smackdown taping. The feature opened with heavy plugs for Hunter's new Instagram account, touted the success of WWE's current European tour and shifted into storylines with the Daniel Bryan "propaganda," The Shield and Hulk Hogan on Smackdown. Hunter said if The Authority "strips" Daniel Bryan of the title it will only fuel the "Internet dweebs" and the Yes Movement. If he's a man, Daniel Bryan will do what is right and show up at Raw next week and hand over the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. If he doesn't, they'll "deal with that when they have too." You can watch this week's feature at this link. - Joel Stice of has a fun article online titled "6 Hard-Partying Andre The Giant Stories You May Have Never Heard" now online. In it, he looks at Andre and Dusty Rhodes stealing horsed-drawn carriages, Andre being the world champion of drinking, using bathtubs as toilets, working intoxicated, having lifting contests with Wilt Chamberlain and being responsible for his Princess Bride co-stars being hungover everyday. Click here to read the piece in its entirety. - The latest Brandi Rhodes video blog is now online at this link. - WWE Games has announced the launch dates for the upcoming WWE 2K15 video game on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3:

- Hugh Jackman appeared on SportsCenter this week and "called out" John Cena, channeling a persona he called "The Flying Aussie." Dot com has a clip available at this link.

- WWE belt maker Dave Millican is featured by CNN Money in the video embedded below:

- Sean Williams has a new article on The Motley Fool where he puts WWE's stock on his watch list. He believes (as do I) the stock could easily "climb to the top rope" if given some time and investors bring their expectations back down to earth. On the flip side, Williams would be willing to "turn heel" on the stock if the company halved their dividend of $0.12 or cut it altogether. You can read the piece at this link. - Deadline is reporting that WWE Studios and Lionsgate have renewed their partnership with a six-picture deal to produce a new sextet of action films. The new deal will begin with a film called Vendetta, which will be directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska and star Big Show.

“We’re thrilled to join forces with Michael and his WWE team on a series of modestly budgeted action films that extend our longstanding and successful partnership,” said Lionsgate Co-COO and Motion Picture Group President Steve Beeks.

WWE Studios and Lionsgate have worked together on The Condemned, See No Evil and the upcoming Leprechaun: Origins and See No Evil 2. The new deal was negotiated by Bradley Buchanan of WWE Studios and Wendy Jaffe of Lionsgate. Click here for coverage by Deadline. - There are rumors that independent workers Willie Mack and Kevin Steen have been offered WWE developmental deals. While we are unable to confirm either has signed as of press time, we are able to confirm more details. According to a source speaking exclusively to me on behalf of, both Mack and Steen are being considered for the upcoming season of WWE Tough Enough. As we reported on May 1, Tough Enough is returning as a WWE Network original program. Prince Devitt, who is also rumored to be WWE bound, is not being considered for the show. In order for WWE to get him signed, he was given certain assurances in terms of not being stuck in developmental for long, let alone being involved with Tough Enough, which will essentially be "NXT's NXT." As with the others, we cannot confirm that Devitt has put pen to paper. - The Law Office of James C. Kelly announced on Thursday they are investigating WWE on behalf of investors that purchased shares of the company between August 1, 2013 and May 15, 2014. You can read the release at this link. Multiple investigations have been launched since WWE announced their new TV distribution agreement with NBCUniversal. We can confirm active investigations by Ademi & O’Reilly, LLP, former Attorney General of Louisiana, Charles C. Foti, Jr., Esq. and a claim made back in April that WWE dismissed. These in addition to Lemelson Capital Management calling for WWE to replace the executive management team or explore the sale of the business. The claim is that WWE misled investors in regards to the valuation of their deal, thus inflating the price of their stock. The price plummeted after the deal was announced and Vince McMahon lost nearly one third of his net worth. This in addition to questions regarding the profitability of the WWE Network at a steady domestic state of 1 million subscribers. - WWE and Astro announced on Thursday the company will return to Malaysia in October 2014. The following live events will take place from the Putra Stadium in Kuala Lumpur: Friday, October 10, 2014 Saturday, October 11, 2014 Advertised stars include John Cena, Bray Wyatt, The Shield and Bad News Barrett. Tickets will go on sale Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 10 AM. Click here for the official press release. - Finlay made a surprise appearance at Wednesday's WWE live event in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The appearance came after Luke Harper & Erick Rowan appeared to win the WWE Tag Team Championship. Finlay came out and told the referee they used the title belts as weapons on The Usos and the match was re-started. He currently works backstage in WWE as a producer. We have quick results from the show online at this link. Speaking of surprise appearances, Pat Patterson appeared at Wednesday's show in Orchies, France, where he cut a promo. You can read about that at this link. - As seen on this week's NXT, Bo Dallas lost to Big E. The stipulation was if Bo won, he would get an NXT Title shot. If he lost, he would have to leave NXT. This sets up his debut tomorrow night on SmackDown. - Natalya beat Sasha Banks in the last semi-finals match in the tournament. Natalya will face Charlotte to crown a new NXT Women's Champion next week at NXT Takeover. - Below is the list of announced matches for NXT Takeover. The special two-hour event takes place next Thursday and will air live on the WWE Network. Tyson Kidd vs. Adrian Neville - NXT Championship Natalya vs. Charlotte - NXT Women's Championship El Local and Kalisto vs. The Ascension - NXT Tag Team Championship Sami Zayn vs. Tyler Breeze - #1 Contender's Match Adam Rose vs. Camacho - Wale did a freestyle to Scott Hall's Razor Ramon theme song that was completely pro wrestling related. You can listen at this link. Wale was in attendance at Monday Night Raw in Washington, DC last month, where he was involved in an altercation in the crowd. - On Thursday, we revealed two names being considered for the cast of the new season of Tough Enough on WWE Network. We also discussed one big international star that is headed to WWE that will not be involved. Based on the names mentioned to us, it looks like the company is going in the direction of using actual trained wrestlers for the show as opposed to starting from scratch and offering a developmental deal. Preliminary information suggests the cast will feature talent already under developmental contract. Speaking of WWE developmental, we've buried the lead on a possible change in philosophy in the company's system. As we reported back in March, there have been internal talks about signing talent solely for use on NXT. The thinking is that NXT is its own brand and the company has to decide if it could be a permanent home for some talent where there isn't a spot for them on the main roster. While WWE has heavily considered producing a cruiserweight-only show as original WWE Network programming, the thinking is they may already have that with NXT. The use of Tyson Kidd and Natalya on NXT are good examples of the company slightly pivoting when it comes to developmental. While the core purpose of NXT will always be to develop new talent, it's not the only purpose with the evolution of WWE Network. We have more details on the changes at this link. - One of the focal points next week on the WWE Network will be NXT Takeover, which will broadcast live from the campus of Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida on Thursday, May 29, 2014. On Wednesday, May 28 at 10 PM ET there will be a one-hour preview of the show on the WWE Network. Renee Young will familiarize the audience with the rivalries and feature interviews with Bret Hart and Ric Flair will air. They'll be discussing the NXT Women's Championship match between Natalya (Hart's niece) and Charlotte (Flair's daughter). On Thursday, May 29 at 7:30 PM ET there will be an exclusive NXT Takeover Pre-Show featuring Christian, Paul Heyman and Cesaro. NXT Takeover will then begin Thursday night at 8 PM. Headline matches include Adrian Neville defending the NXT Championship against Tyson Kidd, the aforementioned Women's Championship bout and The Ascension defending the NXT Tag Team Championship against Kalisto & El Local. Immediately following the event, NXT Takeover Fallout will air. Click here for official details on dot com. - Sheamus was heavily in the news earlier this month when he reportedly fell asleep at the Extreme Rules expert panel desk and got into a physical altercation with Sin Cara backstage at a WWE television taping. We're told Vince McMahon has "lost interest" in Sheamus and any stories that put a negative perception on him have done him no favors with the WWE Chairman. Triple H, on the other hand, is still high up on Sheamus and continues to be his main supporter. This really isn't much of a surprise considering Hunter has been his biggest supporter since day one, even though Sheamus dismissed they were workout buddies (apparently based on a remark made about him here in the comment area). It's no secret there have been internal discussions about turning Sheamus heel but we're now being told a future program with John Cena is also being considered. It's unknown if this is something they would do at SummerSlam or some time before then, however, it's interesting to note Vince has lost interest while Triple H remains firmly behind him. - The folks over at Podcast One sent word that Bill Goldberg's "Who's Next" podcast launched on Friday. His first guest is NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. You can listen to the first episode at this link. - has a heartwarming story about Sheamus granting a wish to a young fan in Dublin while WWE was in town for an international live event on Thursday. He also greeted a little girl in connection with the Make-A-Wish foundation. Below is a photo of Sheamus with both:

Click here for more.

- Friday marks the 15th anniversary of the tragic and untimely passing of Owen Hart. Hart died at WWF Over the Edge on Sunday, May 23, 1999 when a stunt to lower him from the rafters as the Blue Blazer went horribly wrong. Owen's brother, Bret Hart, wrote the following on Facebook:

We share our thoughts and extend our condolences.

- Scott Hall was admitted to Emory-Adventist Hospital at Smyrna on Friday in Georgia where he went for a heart checkup. It's well documented that Hall has a pacemaker that has been known to give him trouble. He was discharged after undergoing a full battery of tests and given a clean bill of health. Hall is scheduled to attend next week's Smackdown taping from the Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA. He'll also be shooting an interview to be used on WWE Network. Hall received his invitation to TVs directly from Triple H. Below are a couple of photos:

- An unedited copy of this week's episode of Smackdown leaked online earlier in the week. Several readers sent the link that you can check out here. While I didn't go through it, the sports blog Deadspin did and made some notes. The most interesting note was Michael Cole saying this to Vince McMahon thorough his headset - "Do you want me to say that every time, because I've said it a shitload of times tonight." McMahon's response isn't audible but Cole said: "OK...yes sir...yes sir...OK, I've got it sir."Click here for coverage by Deadspin. - The weekend is near because The JBL & Cole Show is now online. This week's episode is In-Zayn as it features Sami Zayn. You can watch at this link.

TNA News

- Bellator CXX took place on Saturday night from the Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi and featured TNA crossover stars Quinton Jackson, King Mo and Tito Ortiz. Jackson beat Mo via unanimous decision Tito Ortiz beat Alexander Shlemenko via technical submission TNA President Dixie Carter was in attendance and was shown sitting beside Diamond Dallas Page. - TNA Wrestling revealed that their show Xplosion will be receiving a new timeslot on Challenge TV in the United Kingdom. Xplosion will now be airing on Saturday mornings at 9AM. It is also announced that the show will be targeting a family friendly audience. The new format will begin on May 31st, 2014. Below is the official press release:

Challenge and TNA Entertainment have joined forces for a historic announcement – teaming up to deliver TNA’s first ever wrestling programming specifically designed for a family audience. An all-new version of TNA Xplosion will air weekly on Challenge from Saturday May 31 at 9am. The show has been reformatted with families in mind and to purposely differentiate itself from TNA’s flagship post-watershed programme IMPACT WRESTLING. Xplosion – which is hosted by Jeremy Borash and features a mix of new matches, classic bouts and the hilarious ‘Spin Cycle’ panel debates – will also continue to be shown in its current late night timeslot of 11pm on Wednesday evenings. TNA IMPACT WRESTLING is broadcast every Sunday at 9pm. Challenge can be viewed across the UK and Ireland on Sky (145), Freeview (46), Virgin Media (139) and Freesat (145). TNA President Dixie Carter said: “Xplosion moving to Saturday morning on Challenge is a strategic and natural evolution of TNA programming, as our product resonates with fans of all ages. “Families with young children are always strongly represented during TNA’s annual MAXIMUM IMPACT Tour. I am confident with the new format and time slot of Xplosion we will continue to attract new fans, particularly kids. “Ask any TNA Superstar and they will tell you, there is no greater feeling than seeing the eyes of a child light up when he sees his favourite wrestler in action. “Through TNA’s flagship IMPACT WRESTLING programme and the all-new Xplosion, combined with innovative and engaging content delivered daily through our digital and social channels, there are more ways than ever to engage fans with the TNA brand.” Stephen Ladlow, Director of Challenge, commented: “As the exclusive home of TNA in the UK and Ireland, it’s great to be able to bring TNA to a whole new audience with our new family friendly show. “We know that the TNA UK Tour attracts fans of all ages, so it seems fitting that Challenge can now cater for them whether young or old with this new Saturday morning Xplosion show.” Jeremy Borash added: “TNA's awesome fans across the UK and Ireland can expect Xplosion to showcase their favourite TNA Superstars each week, with an emphasis on two of the most popular types of matches, X-Division and the Knockouts. “With exciting competition in the ring and the popular ‘Spin Cycle’ panel, the new Xplosion will be must-see Saturday morning TV!” TNA also have a special Family Package for all those wanting to attend the MAXIMUM IMPACT 7 Tour, which comes to Glasgow, Manchester and London in January 2015. Anyone buying four tickets together (maximum of two adults) can enjoy a 20 per cent discount on the standard ticket price. Full details on the TNA UK Tour – including dates, venues, roster and ticket prices – can be found by visiting

- Former TNA star Jesse Sorensen suffered a broken ankle while working for Vintage Wrestling in Sanford, FL over the weekend. Sorensen noted on Twitter that he has "several major breaks" and surgery will be scheduled later in the week. The following is from Twitter:

Sorensen is most known for breaking his neck at TNA Against All Odds 2012 in a match against Zema Ion. He was never cleared to compete in TNA again and later released from the company.

- SoCal Val is featured in a new article by Scott Fishman of The Miami Herald. In it, she discusses her many roles in TNA Wrestling, including in production.

“I will never forget writing some liners for Hulk Hogan on a commercial or two,” Val said. “I just thought the fact I get to ring announce for Hulk Hogan and to write lines he is actually saying in commercials is just the ultimate fan dream, and I got to do it thanks to TNA.”

Val's desire to work for WWE:

“I make no secret about that,” she said. “I don’t see TNA and WWE as this huge war. I think we all support each other. That’s been evident whether it has been Dixie [Carter] or Stephanie McMahon or whoever, I think it’s cool when people from both companies talk to each other. We’re all friends anyway. People jump back and forth all the time. WWE is something I watched and fell in love with since I was a kid. So of course that’s somewhere I want to be and learn from the best and spread my wings. As long as I’ve been in the business, I’m only 28. I feel like there is definitely a future in WWE.”

Click here to read the piece in its entirety.

- TNA Wrestling officially announced Bully Ray vs. EC3 for their Slammiversary pay-per-view on Thursday. You can read their coverage at this link. We spoiled the TNA Slammiversary lineup on May 9, 2014 here on, listing five confirmed bouts with stipulations and reviewed rumored bouts. TNA Slammiversary will take place on Sunday, June 15, 2014 at College Park Center in Arlington, Texas. We’ll have complete coverage here at


How bad are WWE's problems following the major stock selloff after their new TV deal with NBCUniversal was announced?

WWE and Vince McMahon have a major problem on their hands and will look to quell investor concerns in a conference call on Monday morning. Many were operating under the assumption that WWE was on the verge of a landmark domestic TV agreement and the increase of the stock price was a result of that. When the deal was announced, it was a moderate increase, which resulted in a stock selloff. The fact of the matter is WWE's stock was overvalued on the anticipation that a big deal was going to be announced. The company was very confident when speaking with investors they would be able to significantly increase their TV licensing fees and while they did, the number wasn't "double" or "triple" what was earned from their previous agreement. Of course if you followed our reports going back to February, you knew WWE did not have the interest they thought they would. While WWE thought they would have many bids on their programming, it came down to Viacom and NBCUniversal and when Viacom found out WWE was asking them for more than what they were willing to accept from NBCU, they pulled out. However, while the value of the company dropping over 40% in one day is a major problem, I see it more as a correction from a stock that had been trading at an inflated rate.

Are the days of the WWE Network numbered due to financial concerns?

The second component to WWE's tumbling stock price relates to the WWE Network. Lemelson Capital Management, a private investment management firm, called for major changes within the company due to concerns with the profitability of the WWE Network. Their concern stems from WWE losing $45-$52 million with the WWE Network at a steady state of one million subscribers. WWE Chief Financial Officer George Barrios has stated on numerous occasions the WWE Network will be profitable in excess of 1 million subscribers. The numbers do not appear to add up, however, Barrios and Vince McMahon will address that in Monday morning's conference call. The WWE Network is something the company views as an investment until it reaches its steady state and some have speculated this could result in a price increase. However, to answer your question - no - the days of the WWE Network are not numbered. WWE knew it was going to have to make an investment to get their network profitable and have very high hopes for it. They believe the WWE Network will turn into one of their biggest assets.

As good as Bray What's mic skills are, I have already found myself leaving the room during his promos which seem to get longer by the week? Do you think it will hit the point where it's too much and becomes stale?

If you are leaving the room during Bray Wyatt's promos, you are missing one of the best parts of WWE television. It's hard for me to even fathom how one could not truly appreciate the brilliance that is Bray Wyatt. I've been doing this for 14 years and I am as high up on Wyatt's character as I have been on any gimmick in that time period. The only gimmick I can even compare it to is The Undertaker. The only question regarding the success of Bray Wyatt will be the "stay ability" of his character. Your boredom with the gimmick would be problematic if it were the majority but you are actually the first reader I've heard from that is tired of it. Let me ask you this, if Bray Wyatt is not entertaining, what on WWE television is?

Do you see talent cuts coming in response to WWE's stock woes?

The issues WWE experienced last Friday go way deeper than the talent roster. Investors began to call into question the very core of WWE's business model. We're not talking about downside guarantees here, we're talking about millions of dollars in regards to how the company functions. WWE recently cut some developmental names that didn't have a clear path to the main roster, however, they could cut their entire talent roster and not fix the things being called into question on Friday. What Vince McMahon and George Barrios have to do on Monday is explain how the WWE Network and their new domestic TV agreement with NBCU will ultimately work for the company's prosperity going forward.

From the Ask WNW vault…

February 2013: You’ve gone on record several times saying that you are against blading and I completely agree. But how do you feel about WWE going out of their way to avoid blood when a performer is busted open the hard way like they did by showing only the left side of Brock’s head when he was standing on the ramp last night? - I missed the opening segment of this week’s WWE Raw and had to result to the black and white footage WWE posted on YouTube (link here). While away, my phone was blowing up about Lesnar bleeding like a stuck pig. After reviewing the footage and listening to my sources, it’s clear Lesnar cut his head on an exposed hook underneath the turnbuckle pad. The reason WWE tried to keep the cameras off the blood and made the footage black and white on YouTube has to do with their PG initiative. Excessive amounts of blood will cause the TV parental guidelines to change the rating from PG to TV-14, something Vince McMahon refuses to do.

Do you agree that Romain Reigns isn't ready for a run in singles?

I understand why WWE decided to turn The Shield babyface rather than split them and push them in singles, what I didn't like was the way the indecisiveness played out on television in storylines. Timing is always important when attempting to elevate a new worker and with Daniel Bryan getting his run and Bray Wyatt being elevated, it was for the best WWE didn't attempt to throw The Shield members in the mix. However, I feel that Reigns is ready and will be successful when it happens. The timing was not right but Reigns is still primed for a successful run in singles.

Considering Super Cena's win/loss record in Last Man Standing matches, do you see Bray Wyatt having any luck at all walking out of the match? If not, wouldn't it hurt the build they have been putting behind Wyatt these past few months?

WWE will have to be careful with the booking of John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt at Payback because they do not want to take away from what they've been building over the last several months. If Wyatt goes over, it'll most likely be due to outside interference but I have a hard time believing Cena will not overcome the odds after the loss at Extreme Rules.

Do the creative writers have any direct involvement with non-televised events?

The creative writers communicate directives to producers, who run the live events. So to answer your question, yes, they have direct involvement.

When WWE Superstars work shows in Europe or Canada, do they need to get special work permits/visas?

Yes, WWE talent must have the appropriate paperwork in order to work international shows. This has been an issue in the past with talent that have domestic convictions being unable to enter other countries. Certain states in the US have different regulations in accordance with their athletic commission that can also require proper credentials. Last year, TNA ran into a situation in the state of Missouri where workers were not properly licensed and they had to do a live event with six workers not being cleared to wrestle.

I just caught up with WWE Legends' House and noticed Kenny King in several of the segments during the Chippendales segment. Has he signed a WWE developmental contract? I thought he was still with TNA.

Kenny King is still with TNA Wrestling. WWE Legends' House was filmed back in 2012 and was delayed due to the delayed launch of the WWE Network. He is a former Chippendale’s dancer.

From the Ask WNW vault…

August 2012: With growing concerns from WWE talent about the pay and compensation they are receiving; can you see a union for professional wrestlers forming in the future? - We get questions from time-to-time about a pro wrestling union with the issue really being brought the the forefront after the Benoit tragedy, however, I don’t see how it would be possible. Performer’s contracts in WWE are signed as independent contractor agreements, where the workers agree they are not classified as employees even though the company stipulates very specifically when and where they can work. Former workers have challenged the contracts in court, however, they are iron clad in terms of validity and enforcement.

I don't agree with how Paige was given the WWE Divas Championship immediately upon being called up to the main roster. There are other Divas that have paid their dues, such as Natalya, that have earned the opportunity. What are your thoughts?

The thinking behind hot-shotting Paige to the WWE Divas Championship was that the audience was already familiar with her work in NXT and she would get a big rub from beating AJ Lee. The experiment hasn't worked out and as we reported here at, WWE hasn't been happy with the Divas division in the absence of AJ Lee. I personally feel that pushes without sufficient builds rarely work out and it was too much too fast. I agree there are others, such as Natalya, that have "earned" the opportunity but that's not really how WWE looks at it. Triple H is high up on Alicia Fox and ordered her evaluation. In total, I don't like pushes without build but I don't see it as a situation where championships can be "earned" and the company has to go with what is the most entertaining at the time.

If TNA were to ever have the funds to sign John Cena and he would want to sign with them, what type of reaction do you think he would get? Can you see it being a mixed reaction like he gets now or a huge round of cheers.

This question is the hypothetical of all hypothetical questions. For one, TNA Wrestling couldn't afford to sign John Cena and are in such financial disarray, they're letting talent that they've invested all of their resources in go because they can't pay them. It's amazing to me how little attention is being paid to the demise of TNA. Back to your question, if TNA had the bankroll they had several years ago and could invest heavily into John Cena (and of course he had sufficient interest), I would expect him to get a tremendous babyface reaction. Cena is the top guy in the business and easily the most recognizable out of today's crop of talent. Part of the reason the audience gives him so much heat is because of WWE's reluctance to progress his character. They refuse to change it because it continues to work. However, I could not see Cena working outside of WWE and fully expect him to retire with the company.

Why is WWE dragging out the situation with Daniel Bryan and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship?

There are several reasons why the company has been very tactful with the future of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. For starters, WWE didn't want to say anything about the future of the title until after Daniel Bryan had surgery. Now that the surgery is done, there has still not been a timetable put on his return and the storyline suggests that he'll surrender the title on next week's Raw. So why not just have him drop the title this week? First of all, there was no way Daniel Bryan was going to be able to fly to London just a few days after neck surgery. Next, WWE expected lower viewership for the show because it aired from tape. While WWE never wants to see viewership drop, they understand a taped episode of Raw is not going to draw the same audience as a live show and that's understood when evaluating the numbers. Lastly, another week buys WWE more time to come with a creative plan that can be executed to help build to the next pay-per-view. I don't know the future of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, however, I know whatever happens, they're going storyline heavy. WWE wants to push The Authority's power and Daniel Bryan's insufficiency. I think they need to tread carefully because Bryan overcame the odds at Wrestlemania and should be treated differently. It would be real easy for the company to fall right back into how they booked Bryan against Randy Orton, nullifying the run up to and at Wrestlemania 30.

Why does WWE occasionally offer refunds at house shows when certain advertised superstars don't appear?

While cards are subject to change, WWE tries to accommodate fans when a top name is unable to appear (something they've done before when John Cena has missed promoted dates and are currently doing on the European tour because of Daniel Bryan). However, you can't just get a refund and return to your seat. If you claim the refund, you have to leave the building and there is a limited time to do so. It's just WWE's way of apologizing for circumstances beyond their control, however, they know the majority of fans are not going to leave.

From the Ask WNW vault…

January 2014: We all know that LeBron James is a wrestling fan, could you see him having a role in WWE after he retires from basketball? - LeBron James is so athletic he could pick his sport and excel at it and yes, I think he would have success in pro wrestling. NBA players have made the transition in the past and WWE would more than welcome King James to their world, however, he’s got plenty left in the tank and is focused on winning NBA titles at the moment. WWE has actually wanted to get LeBron involved in a storyline for a major pay-per-view but the hangup has been with scheduling. The thinking is WWE would have to do it at SummerSlam before the start of the NBA season; however, there is nothing in the works between the two parties at this time.

Do you feel the feud between Bray Wyatt and John Cena is the best thing that has happened to Cena's stale career? I feel like being in the mid-card, against the biggest anti-heroes in the company has really made him more relevant and is showing more of his potential than when he would just defeat everyone against all odds?

The first line from this question struck me as somewhat bizarre - "Cena's stale career." Did you watch Wrestlemania 28 and Wrestlemania 29? Cena headlined both in one of the biggest bouts WWE has done in the last decade (if not ever in the case of Wrestlemania 28). He's the number one merchandise seller and easily the most recognizable name on the WWE roster. Yes, Cena's character has grown stale with older fans that expect more progression but his career has been anything but. Back to your original question, Cena's upper mid-card program with Bray Wyatt has been good for everyone involved, however, I'll concede it's gone on one pay-per-view too long. My argument on Monday regarding Bray Wyatt is that if you don't find his work entertaining, what - if anything - on WWE TV is entertaining? And if you couldn't name at least one current program or gimmick, why are you watching? Cena vs. Bray has been great and it will be interesting to see how WWE books the "rubber match" at Payback. As stated, this has gone on a little long and that has negatively affected fan interest.

Looking back over the career of Cody Rhodes, WWE has utilized him mainly in the tag team division. Rhodes is a very talented worker but aside from a couple reigns as Intercontinental Champion, why hasn't he been given a serious singles push for gold?

Cody Rhodes is a talented worker and is still young (he'll be 29-years-old next month). When WWE put him in Legacy in 2008 with Randy Orton and Ted DiBiase, the hope was one of them would be able to separate. Cody hasn't reached the level where many see his ceiling, however, he's still had a lot of success under the age of 30. A lot of major pushes come down to how the fans respond and the right opportunity. However, I warn everyone that will listen, not everyone can work in the top of the card. Is Cody more of a career midcarder or is he a future WWE World Heavyweight Champion? That question is still premature given his age and potential.

Are the chances of seeing a cruiserweight show on the WWE Network getting better now, especially with all the talent they have that could be showcased on there? They could even tape at Full Sail.

As we reported here on on March 14, 2014, there was a recent shift in philosophy regarding WWE NXT and how it related to a prospective cruiserweight show on WWE Network. While NXT’s primary focus will always be to develop future stars for television, it's not the only focus with the evolution of the WWE Network. NXT is more or less its own brand and this has sparked internal conversations as to whether or not WWE should sign talent with the sole purpose of having them work developmental talent with no intention of calling them up. NXT features a different atmosphere than the average WWE show and it allows for talent to showcase a more athletic style, with matches similar to what you would see on the domestic independent scene. Given the success of NXT and plans for new original WWE Network programming, a prospective cruiserweight show appears to be on hold for the time being.

Regarding Mick Foley's rant about WWE stockholders and how Triple H and Stephanie's on-air roles can damage their view of WWE, why say that now since that antagonizing authority role has been around for years? Doesn't it seem like odd timing?

Let me start by saying that I had the chance to meet Mick Foley a few years ago and he's a great guy. Mick is down to earth and has a wonderful mind for the wrestling business. In fact, I believe Mick has one of the best wrestling minds around and we can all learn from his musings. He's been much more critical of WWE in recent months and I believe this is due to a couple reasons. For one, Mick is a fan of the wrestling business. I believe Mick truly does want what is "best for business" and is more than qualified to speak out when he believes mistakes are being made. He was one of the most vocal critics of Daniel Bryan's booking at Royal Rumble and WWE ended up completely changing directions. Secondly, Mick has his Hall of Fame ring and is free to speak his mind. I know he has denied this but Mick does not have a good relationship with Triple H. Hunter has never viewed Mick as a top guy and has been known to make off-color remarks regarding Foley when given the opportunity. In fact, it's my belief that Triple H was going to do whatever it took to assure that Mick wasn't going to be the headliner for the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame class and had Bruno not agreed, I believe he would have led an induction of DeGeneration X just to provide a co-headliner. I even heard there was an incident where Vince McMahon rebuked Hunter for an off-color remark about Foley when it was believed he would be the top name for the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame. So I see Foley's criticism as two-part, his love for the business and his knowledge of Triple H's mindset that absolutely has an egotistic component to it.

From the Ask WNW vault…

February 2012: I have read the accounts of Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart in regards to the infamous Montreal Screwjob at Survivor Series 1997. Both place the blame on one another. Who do you think is telling the truth? - I’ve always heard there are two sides to every story and when you combine both sides, the truth is somewhere in between. The Montreal Screwjob was a bad situation because I can understand how it was no-win on both sides. On one hand if Vince McMahon put Bret Hart over Shawn only for his champion to go to WCW, how does that make WWE look? WCW was really putting the pressure on WWE and it would have been a disaster for their champion to leave for the competition. On the other hand, Vince had told Bret he was going over and Bret felt that his hard work and dedication had earned him the right to leave as champion. Bret was blindsided by the screwjob and he took it very personal. In the end I’m glad Bret and Shawn were able to reconcile their differences and while they’ll probably never be best friends, it was awesome for the business when the beef was squashed a couple years ago.

Do you believe that Daniel Bryan can still be successful if he drops some of his riskier moves like Shawn Michaels did after he returned from back surgery?

I talked about Daniel Bryan possibly altering his in-ring style in the latest WNW Premium Mailbag but allow me to hit on some key points. Daniel Bryan's in-ring work is what sets him apart. His work is on par with greats such as Bret Hart and Kurt Angle, adding an element of realism with a style very few are capable of working. With that said, this neck injury isn't something that occurred on one particular spot. This injury is from years of bumps that have finally caused a condition where surgery was the only option. So going forward, Bryan will have to operate with more caution. However, I don't think we're in for a major transformation to his in-ring style nor do I expect him to "mail it in." Bryan is at the top of the ladder and he's innovative enough to make some changes without altering what sets him apart. What makes WWE so different from independent promotions is that their regular talent is on the road 300 days out of the year. They can't work a high-risk style night in and night out without suffering major consequences. It's important for WWE workers to pick and choose their spots and I expect Daniel Bryan to do that. This injury is concerning, as are all neck injuries, but Bryan is talented enough to make some tweaks that will not hinder his extraordinary ability.

I don't know much about the stock market but I want to know if you think the WWE made a mistake for going from a private company to a publicly traded company?

No, WWE going public has allowed them to generate capital that wouldn't have otherwise been there. There is a disconnect between investors and pro wrestling executives, much like there is with investors and fans. We can argue that each are polar opposites and neither understands the other. Pro wrestling has a culture unlike anything Wall Street has ever seen. Things are top secret for the sake of the business and thrive on hype. Vince McMahon did a masterful job of hyping the company's domestic TV deal, while at the same time maintaining a level of secrecy that has the company the subject of multiple investigations. The problem with kayfabing your investors is they were purchasing the stock on anticipation of a deal that would see WWE double or triple their TV licensing fees. Was Vince intentionally hyping the TV deal to pump the stock price? I can't answer that, however, I can tell you Vince was doing what he's always done. Hype, hype, hype! Vince is the best promoter of all time and if anyone knows how to sell something, it's him. He created the hype but was unable to deliver. I honestly believe the storm is over as long as WWE maintains their dividend. The company now must focus on fixing WWE Network expenditures, while getting as many subscribers as possible.

Do you agree with the view that the Money in the Bank match should only take place at Wrestlemania and not have turned into a PPV?

No, I believe Money in the Bank has become one of WWE's top B-level pay-per-views. I do, however, feel the match should still be featured on the Wrestlemania undercard. An additional Money in the Bank ladder match would not be gimmick overkill and would be much more effective and entertaining than a 30-man battle royal.

Do wrestlers that are really bulked up stop using steroids once signed by WWE? I mean, it's really difficult to maintain that level of muscle without " a little help from some friends".

If anyone believes the WWE locker room is 100% clean, they're living in a dream world. The same holds true for athletes in the major sports leagues. Steroids, HGH and performance enhancing drugs are still part of the equation. However, things have cleaned up considerably in light of new testing methods and the consequences of using such substances. Speaking solely on the WWE Wellness Policy, the loophole is that a worker can clear a positive test by producing a valid prescription unless the substance is on the outright banned list. All a worker needs is a couple of doctor friends willing to write them a prescription and theoretically, they are bulletproof from Wellness violations. I'm not going to point fingers because unless I see a worker shoot up in front of me, I'm not going to speculate. The problem is still there but it isn't as bad as it once was. Progress is all anyone can ask for, however, I have a problem with demonizing violators. To assume there are only a few "bad boys" and the majority of guys are choir boys is grossly inaccurate.

From the Ask WNW vault…

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

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