Undertaker's Future, Major Wyatt Changes, The Rock/Wrestlemania 31, Damage To Reigns?

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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, October 4, 2014 to Friday, October 10, 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

- The Undertaker made a rare public appearance on Friday at the Wizard World Austin Comic Con at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas. Obviously fans wanted to know about Undertaker's status for Wrestlemania 31, in which he reportedly stated he had no plans to attend.

Shamsullah Baiani, who met Undertaker on Friday, documented his experience on Twitter. The following is from his account:

Click here to load Tweets (if not loaded)

We can confirm Undertaker has not been in any of the preliminary plans for Wrestlemania 31 and there are continued questions regarding the talent that will be available for next year's show. The only part-time worker confirmed to compete at Wrestlemania 31 is Brock Lesnar. As for Sting vs. Undertaker, it's a match Sting wants but hinges completely on Undertaker's desire and health. If Undertaker wasn't kayfabing on Friday (which, believe it or not, he's usually pretty honest when meeting fans), it would appear he doesn't have the desire to come back and work the show next year. A big part in him having Lesnar end the streak is he felt a lot of pressure to continue to work because he didn't want to retire undefeated. I spoke to several people familiar with Undertaker's thinking after the streak was ended and was told he didn't want to retire with a "clean sheet" after so many had done the honors for him. In fact, it was stated that had CM Punk gone over Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29, he likely wouldn't have worked Wrestlemania 30 given issues with his health. However, a match against Lesnar is one Undertaker desired and even stated as much before Wrestlemania 29. Essentially the ball is in Undertaker's court but the chances of him competing again next year appear slim at this time. - The Miz vents about Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus' actions toward him and his stunt double on this week's episode of Smackdown in this week's Smackdown Fallout. Click here to watch. - Heading into the weekend, WWE's creative team was still scrambling to figure out this month's Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. Originally, they were planning on one match in the Hell in a Cell structure - John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar - but the new plan has Brock off the show. In order to compensate for the WWE World Heavyweight Champion's absence, they're looking to do two Hell in a Cell matches. As for who the matches will feature, the company is still undecided on participants. One plan pitched had Cena vs. Dean Ambrose, with the winner facing Seth Rollins and the loser facing Randy Orton. The match against Rollins but would be a Hell in a Cell match. - "Stone Cold" Steve Austin is part of Wendy's marketing campaign to promote their new pulled pork BBQ. The campaign utilizes social media with the hashtag #BBQ4merica. You can watch a video featuring Austin at this link. Richard Reacts: Thankfully, I do not live in a BBQ deprived area. We have some great local restaurants that I'll continue to support when eating BBQ. There's something about Wendy's and pulled pork that just doesn't sound right. I heard the pulled pork fries left a lot to be desired too. Anyone tried it?I would be interested to hear how it tastes. - One of the advertised promotional points for this week's episode of Monday Night Raw is a health update from Roman Reigns. Reigns is booked to appear live in the ring at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY where, according to WWE, he'll "speak his mind" and we'll hopefully get a clearer picture of his recovery timetable. In the Raw Five-Point Preview, dot com questions whether Reigns will return to action sooner than expected. Straying from kayfabe, WWE officials were hoping for the best and fearing the worst when he underwent emergency surgery in Nashville, TN on September 20, 2014 for an incarcerated hernia. Prior to the injury, Reigns was planned to co-headline Hell in a Cell against Randy Orton following his Night of Champions match against Seth Rollins. We heard five days after Reigns' surgery that WWE was confident he would be back for the TLC - Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view in December but were considering holding him out until Royal Rumble in January. That, however, was an initial report and is obviously subject to change. WWE officials were beginning to worry prior to Reigns' injury that he wasn't getting over enough as a babyface, despite optimal protection. Here was a report I filed after the September 8, 2014 episode of Raw:

Roman Reigns still remains in good standing amongst company officials, however, there is mounting concern that he’s not over enough. The concern stems from the way the crowd is reacting to him and it’s even furthered their strategy to carefully book him going forward. Reigns is still seen as one of the leading up and comers for a major push heading into Wrestlemania 31 next year.

While internally Reigns' injury was seen as a bad thing considering how decimated WWE is at the top of the card, some observers felt it could help revitalize him. The feeling from at least a couple of people was that Reigns was starting to lose his luster and some time off could rejuvenate him as a top babyface. The one month absence for Dean Ambrose helped him -- in terms of his standing -- and some feel that may be the case for Reigns. It will be interesting to see how the Brooklyn crowd reacts to Reigns and whether or not there is any further update on his health. - This week's episode of After Total Divas is now available at this link. - WWE has opened up all of their travel packages for Wrestlemania 31 next year. The packages are priced from $900 to $5500 and can be purchased at this link. It's interesting to note talent featured on a promotional graphic for the packages includes Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Big E and Wade Barrett. You can view it below: Click here to load Photos/Tweets (if not loaded)

We shouldn't read too much into this as a previous promotional image featured Batista, The Rock and Brock Lesnar, however, given the fact it was put out by WWE, it needs to be noted. Lesnar is the only part-time talent that is 100% confirmed for Wrestlemania 31 and he could likely be working his final match in the company. Lesnar signed a two-year contract extension in 2013 that runs through Wrestlemania 31 in March.

The biggest surprises are Big E and Wade Barrett -- two stars that have been started on before but never reached anything more than midcard status. Barrett is currently out with a severe shoulder injury that resulted in him vacating the Intercontinental Championship.

We'll note that despite a forthcoming singles push for Luke Harper and the current elevations of Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins that it's Bray Wyatt from the Wyatt Family featured and Reigns of the former Shield faction. Again, we shouldn't read too much into this but it should still be mentioned.

Richard Reacts: John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett vs. Big E. I just booked Wrestlemania 31. I'm kidding; please take this for what it is. It's an initial promotional image showcasing talent that WWE is sure that is going to be there. Nothing more, nothing less but it's still worth mentioning.

- The Rock noted Monday on Instagram that he's in New York City. He posted this photo with the following inscription:

Here's the same inscription from his Twitter: Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

With WWE Raw emanating from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, this will likely result in over-analyzation and speculation about The Rock possibly appearing. I would consider it unlikely as WWE would likely promote such an appearance. If they were planning to keep such a high level appearance a surprise, it's unlikely Rock would write about his whereabouts on social media. Nonetheless Rock is around so we'll pass the word.

- WWE Raw will take place from the Barclays Center on Monday night in Brooklyn, New York. The Rockis in the City, although a WWE appearance can't be confirmed. Chris Jericho noted he's in the City, although a WWE appearance can't be confirmed. As for the WWE Intercontinental Championship belt, there could be a problem.

Dolph Ziggler Tweeted the following:

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

- The San Francisco Giants are looking to advance to the NLCS with a win on Monday against the Washington Nationals at AT&T Park. We can confirm that Daniel Bryan is at the game as the team's verified Twitter account posted a photo of the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion with outfielder Hunter Pence earlier Monday afternoon:

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

- WWE has signed Gionna Daddio and Zahra Schreiber to developmental contracts. Both are former models. You can view photos below: Gionna Daddio

Zahra Schreiber

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

- Last week's episode of WWE Smackdown garnered an average viewing audience of 2,749,000 viewers on SyFy. Viewership was up from the past couple of weeks, even up against the MLB Playoffs. In fact, Smackdown was Friday's top non-MLB broadcast with a 0.8 adults 18-49 rating. TV by the Numbers has more data available at this link. - Two new episodes of Total Divas will air next week on E back-to-back starting at 9 PM/8 CT on E. You can read more on the show's official website at this link. - The potential separation of The Wyatt Family with the company running the vignettes about Luke Harper being "set free" is a brainchild of Vince McMahon. We're told Vince is high up on Harper because of his size and sees him as a bigger star than Bray Wyatt. Triple H feels differently and was against splitting up the faction but didn't resist the decision. One observer pointed to the fact the writing was on the wall for the faction and that Vince was essentially killing them off so why not let him have his way and push Harper. However, this same observer expressed concern because Luke Harper is nowhere close to Bray Wyatt on the mic. Another issue right now is that with the talent roster so thin and Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose working towards the top of the card now, Vince feels that by splitting the Wyatts, they can end up with two top acts instead of one. Again, nothing regarding Erick Rowan was mentioned. - Roman Reigns appeared live on Raw via satellite for a very quick interview to give us an update on his injury. Roman didn't say much but trainers are happy with progression and he's moving around more. Richard provided an update on Reigns earlier today here. - The Rock was indeed in New York today as he made a surprise appearance on tonight's Raw and interrupted Lana and Rusev during an in-ring promo. Rock cut a typical promo insulting Lana and Rusev, and then went on to throw several right hands at the end until Rusev fell out of the ring. - The Authority closed this week's Raw with an announcement on the main event plans for Hell in a Cell. Dean Ambrose will face John Cena with the winner of that match facing Seth Rollins in the main event Hell in a Cell match. After the announcement, Ambrose attacked Cena in the ring. WWE Hell in a Cell will take place on Sunday, October 26, 2014 from American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. We’ll have exclusive live play-by-play coverage at WrestlingNewsWorld.com. - In this week’s Raw Fallout, The Rock discusses his surprise return to Raw, Kathie Lee & Hoda continue the party with Adam Rose and admit that they love being booed, and Bo Dallas reflects on his undefeated streak against Mark Henry. The clips are embedded below: The Rock is BackKathie Lee & Hoda continue the partyAre you a Bo-Liever now? - WWE has announced that Real Housewives of Atlanta star NeNe Leakes will guest star on next week's episode of Monday Night Raw. For details on what she will be promoting, click here for coverage on dot com. - The announced attendance for this week's #RawBrooklyn was 14,777 from the Barclays Center. - Speaking of the Barclays Center, the company will return to the venue for a live event on Saturday, March 7, 2014. The presale password to obtain tickets is BKNYWWE. - After Raw went off the air, John Cena allowed for Dean Ambrose to have the spotlight on him in the ring. He said they don't see eye to eye but they both love the business. - I haven't heard from anyone backstage at #RawBrooklyn yet, however, Roman Reigns was originally scheduled to be at the show. In fact, he confirmed as much in a promotional interview with the great Sam Roberts. While the company advertised he would be there, they aired a pre-tape where he was "live via satellite." For those that missed the segment, it was short and forgettable. He didn't provide a timetable for his return but said it's only a matter of time before he gets back in the middle of the ring and kicks ass. Reigns didn't draw a strong babyface reaction from the crowd -- something WWE has been worried about -- but he wasn't there! Richard Reacts: The pre-tape was so bad it felt like they were setting Roman Reigns up for a live appearance later in the show. They didn't. Horrible, terrible and it didn't do either of the things it needed to do (showcase Reigns in a prominent manner or provide a timetable for his return). Until I hear otherwise, I'll assume Reigns will be back in December but this was a missed opportunity. - The Rockmade a surprise appearance this week at #RawBrooklyn. We reported on Monday afternoon he was in the City but felt an appearance was unlikely because WWE didn't promote it and he posted on social media about his whereabouts. However, an unlikely appearance became a reality on Monday night. Rock's appearance was a genuine surprise and helped spotlight Rusev and Lana, as he interrupted their segment. As for Rock's WWE future, he has said he has a verbal agreement for one more match. We're told a match that he wants is a match Vince McMahon wants as well and that's Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31. In fact, Rock has gone on record as to saying that was in the planning stages for Wrestlemania 30 at one point. I haven't heard what was on the script and what wasn't, however, this was WWE's Halftime Show segment to help draw in viewers from Monday Night Football. The fact Rock made an unadvertised appearance without promoting anything indicates the two parties are currently on good terms. Whether or not Rock works Wrestlemania 31 is still unknown at this point but he has been featured in early promotional information for the show next March. Richard Reacts: The Rock's return was everything WWE is missing nowadays. Genuine surprise, stellar mic work and an overall entertaining segment. I'll even save my criticism for a part-time talent showing up and taking out a guy that has been booked unstoppable. In fact, it goes to show exactly how high up the company is on Rusev and Lana to prominently feature them in such a segment. - This week's episode of Total Divas garnered an average viewing audience of 1,057,000 viewers on E. This was a 58,000 increase from the week prior but off from the 1,232,000 viewing audience the show did in its Season 3 premiere. TV by the Numbers has data for the top 100 cable shows for adults 25-54 for the whole day at this link. - Natalya and Nikki Bella were in-studio guests on Hot 97 with Peter Rosenberg on Monday prior to this week's WWE Raw in Brooklyn, New York. There was a lot of ground covered in the interview, however, there was a very honest exchange between Rosenberg and Nikki regarding what ended up being an abysmal program with Brie Bella. Below is a paraphrased transcript of the interview: Rosenberg stated that he was still excited but started to get frustrated with Nikki & Brie having the exact same situation on television for "like 5 weeks" in a row. Nikki said that she agreed. She said it should have been in different ways but at the end of the day, she doesn't write the show. Nikki said she tried to pitch ideas but she does not write it. Rosenberg talked about Brie vs. Nikki being the most worthy program for the Hell in a Cell structure. He said in the beginning, he was very excited about how hard Nikki went at Brie. He talked about Nikki legitimately hitting Brie with the microphone. Nikki said not only that but she chucked her with her spiked Louis Vuittons and tore her leg open. Nattie interrupted and said Brie came to the locker room bleeding. Nikki talked about Brie being her sister and getting lost in the moment. She said she went full on and beat the crap out of her. She said Brie was "pissed" about it but she texted her everyday to make sure she was OK. Nikki said when Brie slapped her on Raw recently that she slap-punched her and she went black. Brie told her on the way to the back that was one and she had four more. Rosenberg talked about their being an extra level of heat with siblings. Natalya talked about how the program reminded her of Owen and Bret Hart. Nattie said that Bret "loves the twins" and got involved and invested into their storyline because of the similarities it had with him and Owen. Rosenberg asked if we would get to see Brie vs. Nikki in a Hell in a Cell. Nikki said hopefully, however, she wanted to keep working with Seth Rollins as prince and princess. She said she has a lot to go off on John Cena about. Rosenberg asked if she would like to work with John. She said she would welcome it and would like to be against him before joining him. Richard Reacts: Couple of notes here. First, I'm glad I'm not the only person putting WWE creative on blast. Nikki clearly separated herself from the horrible writing and good for her. She's dating John Cena, what are they going to do to her? We received a lot of Ask WNW questions about Nikki and Brie working stiff and as an identical twin myself, I was able to explain the different level of heat you can get. As for Nikki working with Seth, this was actually pitched back in August. I'll include that below: From our Backstage Raw News on August 20, 2013:

There was talk at one time to pair Nikki Bella with Seth Rollins, however, it was nixed due to the feeling that no one would buy it because of Nikki’s relationship with John Cena being featured on Total Divas.

Obviously a lot has changed now and with Rollins the top target of Cena, this could work quite well. - Steve Austin recently made some comments on his podcast about training for a comeback. This sent some publications into a frenzy and while I responded to quite a few emails (trying to calm down the masses), we didn't address it here on the website. I'm not going to act self-righteous and laugh at the people that took the bait but instead, explain why we didn't. Pro wrestlers are promoters. They say things to get people talking. Steve Austin will be 50 years old in December and hasn't wrestled in over a decade. Wrestling fans are nostalgic and want to see it, however, there has been nothing concrete in quite some time. When I first heard Austin was "training for a comeback," I knew instantly it wasn't about an in-ring return, however, if it was took that way, so be it. It would only get more people talking and listening. Jim Ross cleared up the situation in a new blog on his official website. Below is an excerpt:

Talked with Steve Austin, whose podcasts on @PodcastOne are killing it, on Monday night and was kidding him about him 'training for a comeback,' which most fans thought meant Steve was returning to the ring, and, subsequently, 'taking a bigger role within WWE in 2015.' I jokingly asked Austin that if he was going to be taking a bigger role if he could get a brother some work because a man's got to eat! Bottom line is that Steve was talking to a man who used to train with 'Arnold' back in the day at the Gold's Gym in Venice and Steve said he was training to prepare to return to Gold's Gym to train. They were talking about training, not wrestling, and how working out at Gold's in Venice wasn't for everyone. When the fans heard Austin say that he was "training for a comeback" they assumed that he meant to the ring which in turn means WrestleMania 31. While Steve always keeps an open mind on returning to the ring for one last match, that's not an immediate goal of his or even on the back burner. If many factors involved in that process were in place, I could theoretically see Steve doing it but the chance that all the stars aligning to his satisfaction are slim plus the window of opportunity as it relates to Father Time is beginning to close as well. Austin would never return to the ring to go through the motions and he would likely need a solid four months of in ring work/training to be in the condition that he would demand of himself to headline a major event like WrestleMania. If I were WWE, I'd more likely look at WM32 in Dallas and begin discussing that sooner than later for the Texas Rattlesnake. That's merely my personal opinion but selling 100,000 tickets in his home state might interest Steve the most if the money, the opponent and the creative were all on point. Austin just finished another season of Redneck Island for CMT and is getting ready to tape another run of the Broken Skull Challenge for CMT in a few weeks. After that it might be challenging to find him unless you can make your way to South Texas where the deer grow large on the Broken Skull Ranch.

So there you have it. Read more from JR at this link. - As noted earlier here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Natalya and Nikki Bella were in-studio guests with Peter Rosenberg on Hot 97 to promote this week's episode of Monday Night Raw. The interview was extensive and covered a lot of ground so we've broken up highlights based on subject matter. In the below excerpt, Natalya discussed her role as a coach/mentor to the younger Divas and the evolution of NXT Women's Champion Charlotte. Below is an excerpt from Natalya:

I'm always at NXT because I have a passion for what I do. I love working with new girls and just seeing people develop and grow. There's nothing more that I love than working with a girl like Charlotte. From not believing in herself to all of the sudden being like 'whoa this girl now believes in herself.' We had a match that changed her perspective on everything and you just saw someone come alive.

Click here to watch the interview. The bout Nattie is talking about is her match against Charlotte at NXT Takeover on May 29, 2014. Charlotte won the vacant NXT Women's Championship that night and put herself on the map as one of the best female developmental prospects in the company. Prior to that, it was relatively unknown how Charlotte will fare in the shadow of her father Ric Flair. - Nikki Bella and Natalya were in-studio guests with Peter Rosenberg on Hot 97 to promote this week's episode of WWE Monday Night Raw. In the interview, Rosenberg asked about the general reaction backstage to someone like Paige winning the Divas Championship their first night out. Nikki said that some people were upset and some people were really happy. She said there are some things that are known behind closed doors so some Divas weren't impacted at all. Nikki said she and a few others were really happy but there were others in tears. Natalya reiterated they don't control what happens but they were so enthralled with Total Divas, they were excited for Paige. She said she realized that some of the most compelling stuff on TV doesn't involve a title. Rosenberg asked if they were looking forward to the end of Total Divas because of the separation with the Divas Championship. Nikki said she wished they could bring the Divas Championship on the show but right now they can't. She's still waiting for the day the title can be featured on the show but right now it's separated. The separation is due to Total Divas being filmed months in advance and getting from the show on Sunday to the live show on Monday. Nikki said she thinks they're trying to figure it all out and wants to know the Total Divas cast members actually have a chance to win it but it is separated right now. You can watch the interview at this link. - WWE has announced that Todd Chrisley from USA Network's "Chrisley Knows Best" will be on next week's episode of Monday Night Raw. You can read their coverage here on dot com. This is in addition to "Real Housewives of Atlanta" star NeNe Leakesguest starring on the same episode. Next week's episode of Raw will emanate from the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. Richard Reacts: My wife watches both "Chrisley Knows Best" and "Real Housewives of Atlanta" so I'm familiar with both. I can't get into either show though and I'm not sure they'll have any more success than Hoda and Kathie Lee had on Monday. - This week's episode of Monday Night Raw did an average viewing audience of 3,797,333 viewers on the USA Network. The show was down an average of 232,334 viewers from last week's episode, which held the 4 million viewers mark. Below is how this week's hours broke down: Hour one - 3.577,000 Hour two - 3,891,000 Hour three - 3,924,000 The takeaway here is that viewership grew as the show aired, which is always a good thing. WWE has had a hard time growing the Raw audience from hour to hour with the third and final hour usually dropping off. It's certainly reasonable to assume people heard about The Rock and tuned in as there was a 347,000 viewership differential from hour one to hour three. Monday Night Football over on ESPN garnered an average viewing audience of 13,122,000 viewers. TV by the Numbers has more data at this link. Backstage News from Monday Night Raw in Brooklyn… - Vince McMahon and The Rock met on Monday, however, it's unknown what all was discussed. Some have suggested the groundwork has been laid for Rock vs. Rusev at Wrestlemania 31 but that's not in the plans, at least not right now. Vince still wants to do Rock vs. Brock Lesnar, which nearly happened this year. Rock doesn't have a deal right now that obligates him to work another match but there is a "verbal agreement" with him still interested. It's believed Vince is hellbent on getting him on the show and is willing to compensate him properly to do so. - Triple H wanted Roman Reigns to come off as a "badass babyface that didn't have a care in the world" in his interview with Michael Cole. One person that criticized it -- and there were many -- pointed to the fact Reigns is not that type of guy. The segment came across forced and rehearsed because Reigns clearly wasn't comfortable playing a role that's so different from his real-life personality. Vince McMahon was reportedly fuming over it, however, he didn't go out of his way to watch it beforehand either. That's not like Vince McMahon. - The rumors of pairing Bray Wyatt with another tag team (be it The Ascension or another duo) are true. There has been talk of doing just that with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan being "set free." The direction for Bray Wyatt is uncertain and is cause for concern. Some believe they have already missed the boat on him and feel he's been victimized by Vince McMahon's lack of plan for the faction after SummerSlam. - Randy Orton is currently stuck in a state of indifference. He's been an interesting situation since requesting time off due to burnout and unhappiness over the direction of his character, but we're told right now it's almost borderline apathy. Orton shows up and does what he is told. The talk on Monday was still that the loser of Dean Ambrose vs. John Cena would get Orton at Hell in a Cell, which makes sense, but that obviously was not announced. The original plan called for Orton to co-headline the pay-per-view against Roman Reigns. - Dean Ambrose is well-received backstage by the producers and workers. His stock is high right now, which should really go without saying. - What's next for Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship? I've got nothing for you as of press time. - WWE has announced Big Show vs. Rusev for next week's episode of Monday Night Raw in Atlanta, Georgia. The bout was originally advertised for this week's #RawBrooklyn but was pulled due to Big Show "being placed on leave to undergo sensitivity training." Instead of the match, we got an epic surprise appearance by The Rock. In addition to Big Show vs. Rusev, WWE has announced “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star NeNe Leakes and Todd Chrisley from USA Network’s “Chrisley Knows Best” will be on the broadcast. - Tyler Breeze beat Xavier Woods and NXT Champion Adrian Neville beat Sami Zayn in dark matches at Tuesday night's WWE TV tapings in Philadelphia, PA. Paul Heyman cut a promo after WWE Main Event that can be seen at this link. Below are video highlights from this week's episode of WWE Main Event. If you missed the broadcast, we have a report online here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com. Jack Swagger vs. Tyson Kidd: WWE Main Event, Oct. 7, 2014Brie Bella vs. Cameron, Summer Rae, Layla & Nikki Bella: WWE Main Event, Oct. 7, 2014Dolph Ziggler vs. Bo Dallas - Intercontinental Title Match: WWE Main Event, Oct. 7, 2014 - WWE appears to be in the process of separating The Wyatt Family after beginning vignettes for Luke Harper being "set free" on last week's episode of Monday Night Raw. One of the big questions was what the company would do with Erick Rowan with reports last week indicating he appeared to be the odd man out. The following is from last week's Backstage Raw News posted on October 1, 2014:

The future of the Wyatt Family was a hot topic after the mysterious vignettes that began on Luke Harper. As I mentioned in Ask WNW, it’s hard to see how Erick Rowan isn’t the odd man out. Bray Wyatt, while cooled on recently, is still considered a priority and there have been discussions about turning him babyface, while the company has clear plans to push Harper. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

The news appeared even bleaker for Rowan when we learned through an anonymous source over the weekend that Vince McMahon saw Harper as the biggest star of The Wyatt Family. A point Triple H disagreed with. Below is an excerpt from our Backstage News report on October 6, 2014:

…We’re told Vince is high up on Harper because of his size and sees him as a bigger star than Bray Wyatt.

This week's Raw saw another vignette for Luke Harper, however, introduced a new one for Rowan. In the vignette, Bray Wyatt "set Rowan free," while also stating that he "fixed" him. You can watch at this link. What does this all mean? Well, it's clear Harper is getting pushed. Vince is high up on him and sees potential based on size. I don't know if the company decided they should do the same for Rowan or had planned all along to run vignettes for him the week after Harper. There are numerous questions without many answers. Will Erick Rowan be pushed at the level of Luke Harper? Why was the vignette for Rowan delayed after multiple vignettes for Harper? What happens with Bray Wyatt? On Tuesday, we confirmed talk of possibly pairing another tag team with Wyatt. Below is an excerpt from our Backstage Raw News published on October 7, 2014:

The rumors of pairing Bray Wyatt with another tag team (be it The Ascension or another duo) are true. There has been talk of doing just that with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan being “set free.” The direction for Bray Wyatt is uncertain and is cause for concern. Some believe they have already missed the boat on him and feel he’s been victimized by Vince McMahon’s lack of plan for the faction after SummerSlam.

The landscape now appears to be as follows: Luke Harper & Erick Rowan working in singles and Bray Wyatt getting two new prodigies he can "fix" before "setting them free." The issue is -- given how much WWE has cooled on Bray Wyatt -- what will a new Wyatt Family look like? It seems reasonable to assume a revamp of the Wyatt Family could end up similar to the revamp of The Nexus. A secondary stable capitalizing on past success because creative has no idea what to do otherwise. It's inconceivable the way Bray Wyatt has been booked since blowing off his program with Chris Jericho. Live events don't mean much in the broad scheme of things but if you thought putting Wyatt under to Big Show was bad, how about putting him under to Sheamus? That's exactly what WWE did on last weekend's loop. Check out the lack of direction evident in Wyatt's booking at this link. Some people within WWE feel the company has already missed the boat with Bray Wyatt. They had the momentum needed to take him to the next level and due to mistakes being attributed to Vince McMahon, he's nothing more than a midcard talent. Triple H is high up on Bray Wyatt because he's seen as "proof the NXT system works." Remember, NXT is Hunter's baby and he believes it's the key to his success as eventual WWE boss. Vince, on the other hand, seems to have a completely different vision. The fact Bray Wyatt has been buried and forgotten makes it clear that vision doesn't involve him as a proverbial main event talent. WWE needs more star power. The injuries to Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns along with the departures of Batista (temporary?) and CM Punk compounded with the part-time status of World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, the roster is thin. It's nice to see Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins working in the top of the card and Rusev is certainly being elevated, but WWE needs to have a plan together for Wyatt, Harper and Rowan. Vince and Hunter must get on the same page if that is going to happen and based on the way Reigns came off on Raw, there are severe problems on all fronts. WWE has the talent to escape this creative rut but so far, they're not even close to getting out of it. - Triple H's weekly kayfabe interview with Michael Cole is now online. In it, Cole talked about getting goosebumps when The Rock made his surprise return on Monday Night Raw. Triple H called it one of the most electrifying moments in the history of Raw. He said to keep a secret in this day in age is a remarkable thing. Hunter said as big of a star as Rock has become outside of WWE there's nothing like stepping in the ring and igniting the WWE Universe. Cole asked Hunter how they pulled it off. He said when Rock is in the area, there's nothing more important to him than the WWE. And it's a testament to Rusev that Rock took time out of his busy schedule to address a certain pair of Russians (Editor's note: Rusev isn't Russian.) Triple H said that's something because Rock doesn't make that time for anyone. Moving to the Hell in a Cell main events, Triple H said he has to give the WWE Universe what they want. Dean Ambrose and John Cena keep getting in each other's way in trying to get to Seth Rollins. The winner will get Seth Rollins but inside Hell in a Cell, probably the most brutal match in WWE history. They'll be getting in there with arguably the future of WWE, one of the greatest minds and technicians in WWE. Be careful what you ask for. Cole shifted the discussion to the 15th Anniversary of Smackdown this Friday. Hunter said it's unbelievable. They joked about being with WWE throughout the duration. Hunter can't believe Cole is still there period. Cole wants to know why Triple H looks so much better, when he looks so much worse. Hunter said it was diet. Triple H talked about 15 years later, Smackdown taking place in Philly, where the most episodes have taken place. Cole said he understands The Rock will be featured in something with Triple H. Hunter said they had a discussion after Raw and cameras were there. He said they're both competitive and when they get together, those competitive juices start flowing. Cole asked Hunter about a wrinkle to the Hell in a Cell main events. Triple H said Smackdown will be must-see TV. You can watch the interview at this link. - A stipulation will be added to John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose at Hell in a Cell on this week's 15h Anniversary episode of WWE Smackdown. The wrinkle was confirmed in the latest Triple Hkayfabe interview with Michael Cole. In our Smackdown taping results, Brooks Oglesby reports the stipulation will be a No Holds Barred Contract on a Pole Match. Yes, Cena vs. Ambrose in a No Holds Barred Contract on a Pole Match. We'll see the full implications on this week's episode of Smackdown but the winner will face Seth Rollins in a Hell in a Cell match at the pay-per-view. - Scott Fishman of the Miami Herald has a great article online featuring quotes from Bray Wyatt. While I've been trying to get away from recapping interviews, this one is epic. Wyatt talked about studying Martin Luther King Jr, a dream match against The Undertaker and the future of The Wyatt Family. Below are the highlights: On his promos:

“When I speak, I like to speak powerfully,” Wyatt said. “I like feeling behind my words. I just don’t say things. Everything I say has a piece. Martin Luther King Jr., I’ve studied a lot of his work. Just the way he was able to speak, and the power he gives us is really incredible. In my opinion he is the greatest speaker of all-time. There are so many that I’ve studied and idolized. It’s deep for me…”

Dream match against The Undertaker:

“Bray Wyatt versus The Undertaker would be the greatest I could accomplish,” he said. “Just being there side-by-side with him. I get the comparisons, but we are also very different. He is ‘The Deadman.’ He will always be ‘The Deadman,’ and I’m Bray Wyatt. When or if, or when we shall meet, it will be every bit of everything I thought it would be.”

The future of The Wyatt Family:

“We will always be brothers. You will just have to wait and see.”

Click here to read the piece in its entirety. Richard Reacts: Once again, I'm not big on recapping interviews anymore. I'd rather write my own material and tie it in with backstage news and rumors but this one was just too good to pass up. Bray Wyatt is one of the best talkers in the business and it pains me to see him without a direction. One of my absolute favorites and I'm not ashamed to admit that. - Kathie Lee and Hoda discussed their appearance on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw on the Today show on Tuesday. Hoda said she didn't know what it felt like to step out in a huge stadium and get booed by everyone. She said it was exhilarating in a weird way. Kathie Lee talked about there being 18,000 people there and Hoda questioned what they were doing there in the first place. Kathie said she was the one that didn't want to do it but Hoda wanted too. Lee said she didn't think it smelled good. They recapped the horrible segment with Adam Rose. They laughed and had fun with the segment, seemingly alluding to the fact it was a complete train wreck. Kathie Lee said they called them up a few weeks ago and asked them to do it and mentioned that President Obama and President Clinton did it, Hugh Jackman just did it. She said people love doing it but what were they going to do there? Hoda said they had to write that skit. She said no one knew what they were doing there but it was exhilarating and fun. They talked about meeting Vince McMahon backstage. Kathie Lee talked about the atmosphere backstage and how sweet the gentle giants were. Hoda said they've never felt so petite in their life. Their robes worn on the show will be auctioned off with proceeds benefitting Susan G. Komen, which is what it's all about. Kathie Lee said you know they say all publicity is good publicity, that's not true. Kathie Lee said WWE brought her in via helicopter and Joan Lunden was with her. Richard Reacts: Kathie Lee and Hoda are funny and enjoyable people. I guess that's why they have their show. They were completely out of place on WWE Raw and they knew it. The segment was horrible but don't their words just underscore the disorganization of WWE's creative process? Hoda said they wrote their skit! Now I'm sure that's not entirely true but I'm sure the writers had no idea how to utilize them, if that wasn't completely obvious. - We finally have more details on how to obtain tickets for Royal Rumble 2015 before they go on sale to the general public. As we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com, the presale password is RUMBLEPA. To obtain tickets simply, CLICK HERE and enter the promo code RUMBLEPA. I just did a quick search and got 4th row ringside but the price was $520.50 after fees. WWE Royal Rumble 2015 will take place on Sunday, January 25, 2015 from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. We'll have complete coverage here at WrestlingNewsWorld.com. - WWE lost Roman Reigns for "several months" due to an incarcerated hernia that required emergency surgery on September 20, 2014. The injury caused him to miss the company's Night of Champions pay-per-view and wrote him out of storylines indefinitely. On Monday, WWE promised a live update from Reigns himself to update his status. Prior to the appearance, I wrote the following:

It will be interesting to see how the Brooklyn crowd reacts to Reigns and whether or not there is any further update on his health.

While Reigns himself said he would be at the show in Brooklyn live, WWE delivered a pre-tape interview conducted by Michael Cole from his broadcast position. If you missed it, here it is: Roman Reigns addresses his recovery from surgery: Raw, Oct. 6, 2014 I criticized the segment heavily on Tuesday and am still appalled by it. The injury to Roman Reigns is a horrible thing for Reigns and for WWE in general. The company is in dire need for talent at the top of the card and losing Reigns was just another key player down at the worst possible time. We wrote about why the segment bombed in this week's Backstage Raw News but sometimes time off can be a good thing. I will be the first to argue that the one month absence of Dean Ambrose (to film the WWE Studios production Lockdown) helped freshen his character and elevate him to the main event. While Reigns' injury is unfortunate, the company could use it for good in that it could help rejuvenate his character. Some fans had begun to get frustrated with the protection of Reigns and were starting to compare him to John Cena, a mega babyface that always overcame the odds no matter what (a good thing in theory, a bad thing if trying to create the next "face of WWE"). While the appearance on Monday was only a couple of weeks in, WWE needed to do two things. One,provide a timetable for his return. I understand an exact date for Reigns' return is not available, however, they needed to provide a general timeline. This would help keep him relevant and give his fans something to look forward to. It's always smart to tell the fans the furthest date out and hope he progresses better than expected and returns early as a surprise. However, no timetable, other than he hoped to be back soon, was established. The second thing WWE needed to do was assure an optimal reaction from the crowd. They were in Brooklyn in a packed Barclays Center with over 17,000 fans, so it's not like they were expecting a meager turnout to accomplish this. However, for whatever reason, rather than having Reigns appear live and garner a pop, they went the way of a pre-tape on the titantron. Anything on the titantron as opposed to live in the ring is going to garner a weaker reaction from the live crowd because they paid to see the action live, not on television. That's why this method should only be used in certain situations when there is no other way. I have no idea why WWE opted to go the route of a pre-tape as opposed to a live appearance but it clearly damaged Reigns' crowd reaction. Let's also take into account Reigns came off as rehearsed, forced and awkward. This is inexcusable because if WWE was going to go this route, they should have at least checked it for quality. Anyone that watches the above video can tell it was poorly executed. So WWE needed to provide a timetable from Roman Reigns and assure an optimal crowd reaction. They did neither. In fact, they put out an uninformative segment that garnered little reaction from 17,000 plus. Once again, it's hard to garner a reaction from the titantron when fans paid to see the real thing. In conclusion, I don't think serious long-term damage was done to Roman Reigns with the segment, however, nothing was done to help him either. It's unfathomable to me that WWE could feature someone that could potentially be in a position to main event Wrestlemania 31 in such a poorly thought out and poorly executed segment. This is what WWE gave fans to remember Roman Reigns by while he is out. Hopefully it will be quickly forgotten and Reigns will return rejuvenated and ready for the next step but nothing has been done to help him. He's already accumulating detractors that feel he's not anywhere near main event ready and nothing was done on Monday to quell that problem. - The latest episode of WWE Inbox features talent talking about their favorite caffeinated drinks as well as the loudest talent backstage. You can watch at this link. - WWE 2K15 will offer downloadable content and a Season Pass program, WWE has confirmed. Those who purchase the Season Pass will had exclusive access to Paige as a playable character. Dot com has the story at this link. - NXT Women's Champion Charlotte is genetically superior to everyone in NXT. Watch her latest video blog at this link. - #HeeZiggler is still hilarious… Click here to load Photo/Tweet (if not loaded)

- TMZ has a new video of The Rock online that was filmed Wednesday in New York City. In it, the photog asked Rock if he was coming back for Wrestlemania.

Rock said, "I don't think so. I might get hit in the mouth."

You can watch the video embedded below:

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The Rock -- NO-GO FOR WRESTLEMANIA ... Can't Afford to Mess Up This Face!
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Click here for coverage by TMZ.com.

There's nothing to see here. Rock causally brushed off the question but has shed much more light on this situation in previous media interviews. In fact, Rock has said he has a verbal agreement for one more match in WWE. We know 100% that Vince McMahon is highly interested in having Rock work Wrestlemania 31 next year, however, a deal is not in place as of press time.

It should be noted that movie studios do not like The Rock wrestling for obvious reasons and while it's certainly possible that film projects play into his decision whether or not to wrestle again, these comments in New York City to the TMZ photog mean next to nothing.

- Rusev could be in for a bigger role in WWE and there have already been talks about him having a prominent match at Wrestlemania 31 next year. He's a guy with mixed reviews, with some feeling he's fine as a midcarder but doomed in the main event. His detractors feel he isn't ready for a high profile match at Wrestlemania. We're told it's a similar situation to that of Bray Wyatt last year, putting him in a high profile match at Wrestlemania 30 against John Cena. As I noted earlier in the week, the fact WWE thought enough of Rusev and Lana to put them in an angle with The Rock was quite telling as to what the office thought of the gimmick.

- Two matches have been announced for Hell in a Cell and they'll both be gimmick matches. John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose in a No Holds Barred Contract on a Pole Match, with the winner getting Seth Rollins in the Hell in a Cell structure. Heading into the week, there was talk about having two Hell in a Cell matches to offset the loss of Brock Lesnar. It looks like the No Holds Barred/Pole Match could replace having a second Cell match but we can't confirm that. The stipulation to Cena vs. Ambrose is apparently to keep either from getting pinned and will be announced on this week's episode of Smackdown.

- WWE Smackdown is leaving Friday nights on SyFy… for real this time.

A move back to Thursday nights was heavily rumored in August with SyFy reflecting as much on their official schedule beginning on October 2, 2014. This after a photo of a newly painted WWE production truck also promoting a move to Thursdays. WWE told us a move had been contemplated but no decision had been made.

October 2, 2014 has came and gone, with SyFy updating their schedule without a move. However, the network has announced a new series called 12 Monkeys premiering on January 16, 2015 at 9/8c. This is a Friday during Smackdown's current timeslot. You can check out the new series -- promoting the January 16 premiere date -- at this link.

We've contacted WWE public relations and we'll update when/if we hear back.

- WWE will tape the 2014 Tribute to the Troops special on Tuesday, December 9, 2014 from the Columbus Civic Center in Columbus, Georgia. The company will also tape Smackdown that night, the venue has confirmed. The special will air on Saturday, December 27, 2014 on NBC from 8-9 PM.

- Forbes has named Wrestlemania one of the most valuable sports brands worldwide. Dot com picked up on the coverage and ran a piece at this link.

- The weekend is here, so let's start with a laugh. It's Episode #98 of The JBL Show. Click here to watch.

TNA News

- Robbie E and Brooke -- as The Wrestlers -- are safe for another week on Season 25 of The Amazing Race on CBS. They came into this week's episode -- entitled "When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go" -- in 4th place but went to last place after the first challenge. However, they came back to finish in 7th in the 2nd leg. The team in 10th place was eliminated.

Below is the updated board through two episodes:

1st Place - Adam & Bethany (Soul Surfers)
2nd Place - Misti & Jim (The Dentists)
3rd Place - Kym & Alli(The Cyclists)
4th Place - Keith & Whitney (Team Nashville)
5th Place - Tim & Te Jay (College Sweetharts)
6th Place - Michael & Scott (The Firefighters)
7th Place - Brooke & Robbie (The Wrestlers)
8th Place - Amy & Maya(Sweet Scientists)
9th Place - Shelley & Nici (Mom/Daughter)
10th Place - Dennis & Isabelle (The Dating Couple)
11th Place - Lisa & Michelle (Miami Realtors)

Robbie Tweeted the following from his verified Twitter account:

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- TNA Wrestling announced on Sunday that if you buy a ticket to their upcoming United Kingdom tour, you can get 20% off merchandise through TNAEuroStore.com. Below is the official press release:

BUY A TNA UK TOUR TICKET TODAY AND GET 20% OFF TNA MERCHANDISE London (Sunday October 5, 2014): TNA IMPACT WRESTLING and TNA Eurostore have teamed up to offer 20% off merchandise throughout October for all fans buying tickets for TNA’s January 2015 UK Tour events in Glasgow, Manchester and London. TNA MAXIMUM IMPACT 7 Tour and Fan Interaction tickets can be purchased by going to www.facebook.com/tnawrestlinguk, www.gigsandtours.com/go/tna2015gen, www.ticketmaster.co.uk/TNA-Wrestling-tickets/artist/1008830 or direct from the venues. Anyone purchasing a ticket will then be sent a promotional code, which should be entered at the checkout when buying TNA merchandise from www.tnaeurostore.com This special offer is also open to all those who already hold tickets for one or more of the TNA MAXIMUM IMPACT 7 Tour events. Current ticket holders will have a promotional code sent to the email address they used when originally buying their tickets. Among the many international wrestling stars already announced for the UK Tour are Bobby Lashley, Bobby Roode, MVP, Gail Kim, Taryn Terrell, Magnus, Samoa Joe and EC3.* It has also been announced that the final show, on Saturday January 31 at London’s iconic SSE Arena Wembley, will be a double TV taping featuring an Ultimate X match. Full details of the TNA MAXIMUM IMPACT 7 Tour events are: Thursday 29 January 2015 Glasgow The SSE Hydro www.thehydro.com Friday 30 January 2015 Manchester Phones 4u Arena www.phones4uarena.co.uk Saturday 31 January 2015 London SSE Arena Wembley www.ssearena.co.uk TNA IMPACT WRESTLING is broadcast on Challenge in the UK and Ireland every Sunday night at 9pm, as well as on Spike TV in the USA and more than 120 other countries. This offer is only valid on the www.tnaeurostore.com website and excludes Championship belts. The code can be used once per customer/ticketholder. Offer ends October 31. * Line-up subject to change.

- TNA Wrestling has been focused on trying to close a deal with WGN America. We're told they're not happy with the money on the table but it's the highest offer they have, so there's not much leverage there. Global Force Wrestling is watching TNA's TV negotiations very carefully and had tried to get on WGN America earlier this year, however, were unable to secure a deal. GFW has turned their attention to Velocity HD but if WGN America and TNA don't make a deal, TNA could end up on Velocity. So GFW is hoping TNA ends up on WGN America, so they can work out their own TV agreement. If GFW lands a domestic TV deal, they're targeting AJ Styles as their franchise player. We're told they are willing to offer a deal that would allow him to remain a regular with New Japan Pro Wrestling, while also working as the face of their TV show. Another guy that GFW wants is Samoa Joe. Joe's deal with TNA is coming up at the end of the month so Bound for Glory could end up being his last match with the company. We're told TNA has not even offered Joe an extension because they don't want to sign anybody to anything until they've got their TV situation figured out. Things are really coming down to the wire. Obviously a lot of workers under TNA contracts are upset there will be no shows for so long. It's gotten to the point where workers such as The Wolves have been trying to get out of their TNA contracts, while Gail Kim has contemplated retirement. - On Monday, January 27, 2014 CM Punk met with Vince McMahon and Triple H backstage at Raw in Cleveland, Ohio and quit WWE. The details regarding what exactly happened [or what was said] are still unclear to this day but a frustrated and burned out Punk, possibly suffering from a concussion and a staph infection, decided to end his tenure with the company. He had approximately 6 months left on his Performer's Contract and was in the creative plans for Wrestlemania XXX. Since then, much has been written and recorded, attempts have been made at reconciliation and every time someone mentions Punk the rumors come out of the woodwork. No matter how many times it's written that Punk has retired from the wrestling business, the ridiculousness ensues. Perhaps it's because Punk didn't give his fans closure or his real life wife - AJ Lee - is the current WWE Divas Champion. His name is still frequently chanted at WWE shows and he's still linked with other pro wrestling companies no matter how far-fetched the rumors are. Each Wednesday, a barrage of news posts are made at wrestling websites across the Internet, attributed to Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter. This Wednesday, a report surfaced that TNA had made a play at CM Punk to become the company's top star. Rather than beating around the bush and just saying it was "out there," let's just take a look at the report. From WrestlingInc.com:

Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter TNA recently made a play for CM Punk. This was done similar to how they reached out to Alberto Del Rio, through an intermediary who is friends with Punk. The idea pitched was said to be a huge deal for Punk to be the top star of the company with pay similar to what Hulk Hogan was making. The idea is that Punk could be TNA's flagship star and if he signs now, he could help get a strong TV deal. Punk reportedly expressed no interest in working in pro wrestling again.

Now, let me first state I have no intention to try and discredit Dave Meltzer, WrestlingInc.com or play the role of the self-righteous "correction" police. It's not my job to go around the Internet, finding what's true and what's not or disparage another publication. Everyone has a reason for writing what they write and who am I to judge? Write what you want, read what you want. I truly don't care because my focus is WrestlingNewsWorld.com. However, it's time to move on from CM Punk. Not just the fans that chant his name in the arena but the websites that write about him in ridiculous scenarios. I'm sure TNA Wrestling would love to have CM Punk, just as I'm sure WWE would love to have CM Punk. However, he's made it abundantly clear he's finished. Donzo. Retired. Punk, by all accounts, left a tremendous amount of money on the table when he had an enormous amount of leverage to re-sign with WWE. He could have secured a top main event spot at Wrestlemania 30. He could still come back. However, the ball is in his court and he wants to move on. Here it is from the man himself. What more needs to be said? Do we really need another report that will generate lots of clicks, shares and interest but with absolutely no basis to it. Are you saying CM Punk isn't going to TNA Wrestling? Yes, that's what I'm saying. What makes you so sure? TNA let AJ Styles, Sting and Hulk Hogan go when they wouldn't take pay cuts. These are three workers they poured a tremendous amount of money and resources in. So now, at a time when they still don't have a domestic TV deal, they're going to break the bank on CM Punk? I just don't buy it. I don't care what anyone says or writes or whatever. It makes zero sense and is irresponsible to believe otherwise. If CM Punk comes out and says Dixie Carter personally called him and offered him a contract then I'll cover it and we can collectively shake our heads together. Otherwise, I'm completely writing this report off. I believe it's time for the business to move on from CM Punk. Not because we want to but because we have to. Punk gave us some great memories but it's time to escape what is now turning into the ultimate state of denial. - I'm still working on how in the world it got reported that TNA, without domestic TV assurance and not offering anyone contracts, got linked to CM Punk. I'm told a clear agenda is in play and it's something TNA wanted online, although there is no chance of it actually happening. We'll hope to have more details before the week is over. - This week's episode of Impact Wrestling garnered an average viewing audience of 1,102,000 viewers on Spike TV. This was up from the week prior and about on par with what the show has done over the course of the last month, if not on the higher side. TV by the Numbers has data for the top 100 cable programs among adults 18-49 of Wednesday at this link. - On Thursday, I spent a considerable amount of time dispelling a report that TNA Wrestling had made a play at CM Punk. I explained how unless it came from Punk directly, it was just too far-fetched to believe given TNA's current situation. I'm told TNA wanted it online that they had made a play for CM Punk. Whether or not an actual offer made it to CM Punk is unknown but not likely. However, one source explained the company as "desperate and paranoid." They're trying to close a deal with WGN America and needed something to counteract stories they are out of money and can't sign anyone. We're told if by some miracle that TNA was able to get CM Punk to commit, they would have used it as a way to approach Spike TV and see if it would be enough to keep them on the network and get them to kick in money to cover an exorbitant contract. Basically a hail marry to try and keep Spike TV, although Spike has made it clear they are moving on with their focus on Bellator MMA (a company they own). CM Punk has no interest in wrestling, be it in WWE or anywhere else. According to people close to Punk, he has less than zero interest in returning to WWE, much less working for a company he views as incompetent in TNA. In conclusion, it's likely a credible source told Dave Meltzer that TNA had reached out to CM Punk, however, it was a story TNA wanted online. Again, I wouldn't have ran it unless it came from Punk himself but that's the story behind the story. Richard Reacts: Sometimes all we can say is, "only in pro wrestling." I brought this up in the comments on Thursday but it stands to be repeated. Remember the situation we had with Bob Ryder over the summer? A top TNA executive who books hotels for talent/employees when they travel Tweeted to tens of the thousand of people that not only did Nigel Sherrod not work for TNA (who I had reported days earlier was working the company's live events department/which I don't think he does anymore because TNA isn't running live events), he's never even heard of him. A blatant false statement with the sole purpose of burying my accurate report that has never been corrected and remains online. TNA plays the Internet whether they want to admit it or not. The hype going into the weekend should be focused on Bound for Glory but it's an inter-promotional PPV with limited storyline tie-in with talent their fan base is unfamiliar with. Oh and by the way, it'll air from tape. - Dixie Carter is getting some heat for a graphic she posted Friday on social media to promote Sunday's Bound for Glory pay-per-view in Tokyo, Japan. The image is a doppler radar map showing James Storm at the eye of the storm. Accompanying the graphic is the text that, "The Storm is coming… #BoundForGlory" Friday, October 10, 2014 7:40 PM EDT Update: The Tweet is no longer online, however, we have a screen shot that you can view below: End update. You can view it below: Click here to load Photos/Tweets (if not loaded)

Dixie Carter Tweet

Japan is actually preparing for Typhoon Vongfong, a storm packing winds gusting up to 156 mph. You can read more about the storm at this link.

Carter referenced the storm in another Tweet on Friday:

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The TNA roster is in Japan for the pay-per-view.

Ask WNW

With John Cena saying no one can beat Brock Lesnar, could it open the door for someone to return and beat him like Goldberg?

John Cena helped WWE progress where they are going with Brock Lesnar in last week's kayfabe interview with Michael Cole. In the interview, recapped here, Cena explained that Seth Rollins was his target and he questioned who could be Brock Lesnar. The message was Cena was moving on to Seth Rollins for his "idiotic actions" at Night of Champions and Brock Lesnar was virtually unstoppable. The problem is Cena talked about how he had Lesnar beat before Rollins interfered. So Cena beat the unbeatable but now he can't be beat.

While as contradicting as that may seem, at least in the short-term, Cena is moving away from Lesnar and onto Rollins. Booking Lesnar is the ultimately quandary because of his part-time status. WWE seems to be setting the stage for someone to "shock the world" and go over clean but will they really leave Cena vs. Lesnar off the dirty finish at Night of Champions? I'll be the first to admit I don't want to see Cena vs. Lesnar a fourth time since Lesnar's return from UFC (accounting for their match at Extreme Rules 2012) but it would seem to be an odd way to end the program.

The two opponents that have been discussed for Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31 are The Rock and Roman Reigns. I'm told Vince McMahon prefers the former and Triple H prefers the latter. There are issues with either scenario and what does WWE do with Lesnar in the meantime? It's a tricky situation but I don't see a 47 (almost 48) year old Goldberg coming in and solving the problem.

There should have been a clear plan in place from the moment the streak ended to Wrestlemania 31, however, so many people were caught off guard by Lesnar going over Undertaker, I don't believe one had been discussed at all. Now, WWE faces a complex situation that's going to have to be solved in the next 4-5 months.

We all know Bill Simmons is huge WWE fan and with his recent problems with ESPN, do you see him working for WWE at some point?

For those unaware, Bill Simmons is a sports columnist, analyst, author and podcaster with ESPN. He is the Editor-in-Chief for the website Grantland.com. On September 24, 2014, ESPN suspended Simmons for three weeks for criticizing how NFL commissioner Roger Goodell handled the Ray Rice domestic violence case. A new report from BusinessInsider.com states that Simmons' contract with ESPN is up in a year but he's currently making over $3,000,000 annually. Simmons is a rarity in that he is a respected mainstream journalist that is knowledgable and objective when it comes to professional wrestling. The thing is even if he leaves ESPN; WWE isn't going to pay him anywhere close to $3,000,000 a year. I guess it's possible -- I mean they could pay him that -- but it's highly unlikely. Randy Orton is one of the highest paid workers on the WWE roster and according to a TMZ report last year, makes roughly $3,499,992 a year. I guess if Simmons was willing to take a big pay cut WWE would be an option but I'm not sure where he'd fit in.

Do you believe we're in one of the dullest periods for WWE over the past few years?

While I'm sure there are more than a few readers expecting me to answer this with a resounding Yes, Yes, Yes! I'm not so sure. Hell in a Cell 2012 was headlined by CM Punk vs. Ryback and Survivor Series that year was horrible. The time from SummerSlam through the end of the year of the year is traditionally weaker and not having a WWE World Heavyweight Champion doesn't help things. However, Punk vs. Ryback seems weaker than the current stuff involving Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, John Cena and Randy Orton. I believe the respective upsides of Rollins and Ambrose is far more than that of Ryback. If nothing else comes out of this creative rut, I hope we have at least one new mainstay in the company's main event scene.

Could TNA survive if they revamped their storylines to keep their core of Gail Kim, Bobby Roode, Bully Ray and James Storm, while bringing in other cheaper talent like they've done with Ethan Carter III?

Talent isn't TNA's problem. Their talent roster is just fine and will be just fine. TNA's biggest issue is domestic TV and they have to find a new deal. I've heard some things and will be updating soon but that's what TNA needs right now. After securing a domestic TV deal, TNA will be able to determine how to move forward and while obstacles remain, talent is not one of them.

From the Ask WNW vault…

November 2012: In light of the new details regarding the WWE Network how is WWE going to fill an entire network full of programming without the shows that already have television deals? - WWE officials maintain content is not their problem and immediately point to their massive tape library in which only a portion has been digitized. They will also point to the shows they have already taped for the network as well as the WWE Studios library, their developmental system and other programming prospects. This is one area where I am in agreement with WWE as they have more than enough content it’s just will they be able to get enough clearances from cable/satellite providers and will people then buy the network? Vince said on Thursday all the major players plan to carry the network and revealed a detailed survey that a consulting firm did on WWE’s audience. The big question now is when the network will launch which I think is pretty clear won’t be this year.

Who got the bigger rub from The Rock's appearance? Rusev or Lana?

The fact Rusev and Lana were chosen to be featured with The Rock speaks to what the company thinks of the gimmick (or maybe it's because Rock saw something in Rusev & Lana when he met them over Wrestlemania 30 weekend in New Orleans). This was WWE's "halftime" segment to help draw viewers away from Monday Night Football and was the only thing on this week's Raw worth watching. The Rock was great -- as he always is -- and added an entertaining segment to yet another mundane broadcast. I'm not even going to criticize Rock landing offense on the protected Rusev because he didn't deliver any of his signature moves and helped keep it respectful. Forget the fact Big Show vs. Rusev was advertised and pulled at the last minute too because if it weren't for The Rock, I would be posting yet another lengthy editorial about just how stale WWE has been. I personally believe that Lana is more over than Rusev because of her compelling mic work. Rusev has had success but how far can he take the Russian apologist gimmick?

Even if it was just a one time thing, if The Rock didn't come back on Raw, would it have been another disappointing show during the NFL season?

As stated above, without The Rock, this week's Raw would have been yet another mundane broadcast. Where to begin? The dreadful segment with Hoda and Kathie Lee, the comedy match the crowd turned on or the fact the show was stuff that had either been done before or was blatant filler content. I'm appalled at the Roman Reigns segment. What was Vince McMahon thinking? They advertised a live appearance from Roman Reigns and they gave us that? Did you see it? It was awkward and came off rehearsed, offered no new information and obviously garnered no crowd reaction because he wasn't there!

Roman Reigns is supposed to be a bright spot on WWE programming and even without having to worry about creating a compelling storyline for him, WWE still figured out a way to screw it up! How reckless and careless do they have to be? We now know that Erick Rowan is "set free" along with Luke Harper but with The Wyatt Family being held off TV, ugh I just don't know what to say. If you haven't watched Raw, fast-forward to The Rock's segment with Rusev and Lana then to the end of the main event to see the announcement for the Hell in a Cell main event(s) and you're caught up.

Is it safe to say Brock Lesnar is off Hell in a Cell?

Yes, Brock Lesnar will not be featured on the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, which means the show will be without a match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The announced main events will be Dean Ambrose vs. John Cena with the winner facing Seth Rollins in a Hell in a Cell match. I am all for Ambrose and Rollins working in the top of the card, so hopefully they will help save the show.

Could we be seeing a replay of last year, where a returning Roman Reigns gets the nod at the Royal Rumble, only to see the crowd get behind Dean Ambrose a la Daniel Bryan last year, and create chaos again?

Batista returning and winning the Royal Rumble at a time when the crowd was ultra frustrated over WWE's blatant lack of confidence in Daniel Bryan created the perfect storm. I have a hard time believing that could be recreated with a scenario that saw an up and coming full-time talent going over in the 30-man Royal Rumble match. In fact, I think fans would be fine with a lot of people outside of any of the proven main eventers winning the Rumble match. WWE needs to do something that's fresh and compelling, however, they've had a brutal fall so far.

From the Ask WNW vault…

October 2011: Has there been any updates as to why Jim Ross was relieved of his announce duties on Monday’s Raw Supershow? Has his health taken a poor turn? Why does Vince always seem to pick on and embarrass JR on television? - Jim Ross did an interview yesterday and revealed he was not told of the plan to “fire” him beforehand and he believes he is not in WWE’s future plans as an announcer. You can read more from the interview link. WWE is ran by the high school jock mentality with Vince McMahon as the “bully.” For whatever reason McMahon has always had some type of infatuation with embarrassing Jim Ross and Monday’s Raw Supershow was a prime example of the way the company has treated the best play-by-play man of all time.

When Daniel Bryan joined The Wyatt Family he was ready made for them - watching Raw this week, Sheamus' beard is starting to look a bit un-kept. Could he and Bray possibly link up going forward?

Let's unpack this. First, Daniel Wyatt was a massive creative mistake and while WWE quickly did away with it, it was horrible. Daniel Bryan was breaking out as one of the most over superstars in the past 5 years but rather than capitalizing on it, WWE tried to force him as a member of The Wyatt Family. The mistake was ultimately corrected and Bryan got his Wrestlemania moment, however, it was mind-boggling they even attempted it.

As for Sheamus linking up with Bray Wyatt, I guess it's possible but not likely. Sheamus was put over Bray on last weekend's live event loop and is working as a midcard staple with The Wyatt Family being reset/broken up. I examined the state of the Wyatt Family on Monday and if WWE tries to revamp it with new members, while allowing Luke Harper and Erick Rowan to go separate directions, I do not see it being bigger than the first version.

I hear a lot of people say Jim Ross is the greatest of all time. Do you think that he is better than Gordon Solie? If so, what makes him the greatest?

Was Michael Jordan better than Wilt Chamberlain? Is Tom Brady as good as Joe Montana? Is Lionel Messi better than Pelé? I could write thousands of words about the "greatest of all time" and it would still be nothing more than my personal opinion. I am 29-years-old and Jim Ross called the biggest and most memorable pro wrestling moments of my lifetime. I consider him the greatest of all time; that’s not a knock on Gordon Solie, widely regarded as the greatest pro wrestling voice of all time, however, it's my opinion. It's why I don't like "greatest of all-time" questions because it's personal preference and hinges on a myriad of factors, none of which are the same for any two people. Both Ross and Solie were great and should be regarded as such. The same for MJ and Wilt Chamberlain. There will never be another Joe Montana but there will never be another Tom Brady. Lionel Messi is a once in a generation type talent but he'll never erase the legacy of Pelé. Let's accept greatness for what it is and while we're all allowed to have an opinion about "greatest of all time," we must realize that's nothing more than an opinion that cannot be proved no matter how great the accomplishments or statistics.

Can anyone honestly say that they are looking forward to NeNe Leakes on Monday Night Raw? How do these terrible cross demographic promotions come about?

The majority of the guest stars on Monday Night Raw are nothing to look forward too and are done for reasons I can't begin to explain (product promotion, mainstream attention, crossover audience appeal, etc.). NeNe Leakes and Todd Chrisley are not big mainstream celebrities but reality TV stars that will be utilized on next week's show. There have been a handful of good celebrity appearances - remember when Bob Barker came to Raw? I thought Joan Lunden's message this week was awesome. However, by in large, the crossover doesn't work. I felt the segment with Kathie Lee and Hoda was absolutely dreadful and embarrassing.

If WWE decides to have John Cena go over Dean Ambrose to face Seth Rollins inside Hell in a Cell at the PPV of the same name, how do you expect the crowd to react?

I expect John Cena to garner a heel reaction in his match against Dean Ambrose and that will only increase if he goes over. There is a good story for either Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins or Cena vs. Rollins, so I'm not going to be "outraged" with either outcome. I just hope the matches are able to save the pay-per-view because so far, there's nothing else of interest what so ever.

From the Ask WNW vault…

July 2012: How much input do WWE workers have regarding their entrance music? - It depends on the worker but ultimately WWE decides who comes out to what entrance music. CM Punk was able to get WWE to buy the rights to “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour as part of his new deal signed last year. Obviously the higher up someone is on the card, the more influence they have but Randy Orton once said he had Punk’s old music tapped for himself but WWE gave it to Punk.

Normally, the one TNA pay-per-view I might consider ordering is Bound for Glory. With very little storyline buildup and matches that mean next to nothing, there is no way I'm ordering this year. Am I alone on this?

I have heard from quite a few people (including big TNA fans) that are not ordering Bound for Glory this year. I believe the show will feature a great wrestling product, however, it lacks appeal due to the fact it features non-TNA talent mainstream fans are not familiar with, limited storyline involvement and oh by the way, it'll air from tape. It's unfathomable to me that TNA would go this route for their "biggest show of the year" and I cannot explain their reasons why. You are absolutely not alone and I don't see it doing many buys what-so-ever.

Is it fair to say that WWE putting their World Heavyweight Championship on Brock Lesnar at Summerslam was a mistake?

I believe strapping Brock Lesnar as WWE World Heavyweight Champion was a mistake. I tried to give it a chance, even going as far as changing my opinion of the streak ending after I knew Undertaker's mindset, however, it just hasn't worked. It was clear to me that heading into SummerSlam, WWE was going to be in a world of trouble with Brock Lesnar as champion. The build to the SummerSlam main event was poorly impacted by his part-time status. Now, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is rarely seen on television. With Paul Heyman also off TV, I believe it just makes fans apathetic about what should be the biggest prize and honor in pro wrestling. I was a loud critic about WWE not correcting the mistake when they had the chance (strapping Seth Rollins at Night of Champions, something I still believe should have happened). I can't tell you when Brock will be back other than he's off Hell in a Cell and WWE is relying on revenge against Seth Rollins to sell the show.

By the time next month comes, it'll be a year since Chris Hero (Kassius Ohno) has been released from his WWE developmental contract. Will he ever make his way back?

Chris Hero hoped when he was released from WWE that he would be able to find his way back, however, I am not aware of any immediate interest. You can read what he wrote in a lengthy blog after it happened at this link. At one time this year TNA was interested in his services but Hero was hesitant, feeling that would damage his chance of ever getting rehired by WWE. Now I don't even know if TNA is an option as Michael Elgin spurned TNA at one point and was actually trying to get on with them but was told there was no longer interest. TNA is not committing to talent until they sort their domestic TV deal. It's anyone's guess if Hero will find his way back.

With Vince McMahon being keen on The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar and Triple H being keen on Roman Reigns vs Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31, do you think that the Rock's recent appearance on Raw and the crowd reaction is Vince making a point?

I believe there is strong interest in having The Rock work Wrestlemania 31 next year. You are correct in that Vince prefers the former and Triple H prefers the latter, but Roman Reigns isn't even available right now due to injury. It's kind of hard to book someone -- even tentatively -- when they're out with a rather serious injury situation. I personally believe The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar would be the match to do but not for the title. If WWE could get the belt off Lesnar, then by all means, book him against The Rock. If not, I guess Brock vs. Reigns would be a nice "passing of the torch" but there's no guarantee that works. I am extremely sour on Lesnar as WWE World Heavyweight Champion and believe the company is going to continue to be in their creative rut until they get the title off him.

From the Ask WNW vault…

September 2012: I understand WWE is in business to make money and the more commercials on their programming, the more money. However, I feel the commercials have became excessive and are drawing viewers away. What are your thoughts? - There is a direct correlation between the amount of commercials and the number of viewers that watch WWE programming. Remember the commercial-free episode of WWE Raw from 2009? The show did an outstanding rating and showed company officials how they could benefit from product-placement type advertising and ditching commercials outright. However, back to today and the quality of ads for WWE programming isn’t as good due to the demographic so they have to make up for the lack of quality with quantity. We experience the same thing with this website. The biggest reason Vince McMahon decided to expand Raw to three hours is the extra hour of revenue from commercials.

Seeing how WWE has done it once already, how likely is it there will be 40-men in next year's Royal Rumble match?

There have been rumblings about next year's Royal Rumble match featuring more than 30 participants, however, I am unable to confirm as of press time. When WWE did what they promoted as the biggest Royal Rumble of all time at Royal Rumble 2011, Pat Patterson, the man that created the match, took personal offense to it. According to sources, he felt it had worked so well for so long with 30 participants that adding to it was unneeded. He remains involved in helping lay out the match, teaching Triple H in recent years. Based on the rumors, it seems likely but until I can independently confirm, I'm not reporting a change. My personal opinion is that a 30-participant Royal Rumble has proved timeless so I think it's silly to add 10 more participants.

Do you think it's possible that WWE goes with a triple threat match at Hell in a Cell with Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins vs. John Cena?

I read where one site commentator said that it was obvious that both Dean Ambrose and John Cena would go on to the main event Hell in a Cell match against Seth Rollins. It's certainly possible but the stipulation added to Ambrose vs. Cena makes it unlikely. Are they going to rip the contract in half? It wouldn't bother me if the match was made into a triple threat, as long as there is a path to continue to elevating Ambrose and Rollins. When I think of my expectations for Hell in a Cell, I think I will be satisfied as long as Cena doesn’t bury the two up and comers. WWE needs more talent in the top of the card and has a great opportunity in front of them.

How do you think WWE feels about Dean Ambrose's background in very violent matches during his time in CZW? How you do personally feel about his background?

WWE was clearly impressed by the independent work of Dean Ambrose, which is why they signed him. Some people believe WWE should acknowledge his past more but I believe they've incorporated elements of his past maniacal character into what he is today to create a star. Ambrose has the "unstableness" of Brian Pillman to go along with the anti-establishment attitude of Steve Austin (something Jesse Sherwood pointed out and something I'll always give him credit for). I think it's the perfect mix. Jon Moxley wasn't ruined when he became Dean Ambrose. In fact, Moxley was just a building block to what I believe could be a proverbial main event talent.

I know it's been brought up before but how about this - Raw back to two hours, Smackdown to Thursday nights. Does that help things at all?

WWE's current creative problems are deeper than the length of Raw or the fact Smackdown airs on Friday nights. I saw one commentator take issue with me pointing towards Brock Lesnar as WWE World Heavyweight Champion as a problem. I believe they thought I considered it "the problem" but it's one of many, just as is the length of Raw. Smackdown will always be WWE's B-show. While moving to Thursdays and going live might help ratings, it still wouldn't unseat Raw as the company's flagship show. In fact, I'm perfectly fine with the format of Smackdown. It's the B show but it's fine airing from tape on Friday nights. If they move it, so be it. I do believe WWE would be benefit creatively from condensing Raw down from three hours. I've criticized the move since it was made permanent in July 2012 and my position has not changed.

While WWE gets paid more money from the USA Network for the extra hour of Raw, it's at the sacrifice of the quality of their product. There is too much blatant filler content from week to week and that's due to a myriad of factors including but not limited to a thin talent roster, indecisiveness from the top and burnout (yes, I truly believe burnout is an issue and it's evident when things show little to no progression from week to week). There was a reason why there was an uproar from WWE writers when Raw went three hours, it was bound to be an impossible task. If we're being honest, I don't think there's any way we can say the show has gotten better since expanding to three hours.

WWE Raw used to have a special feel from week to week but product over-saturation has damaged that. I also believe it can be traced to why people aren't buying the WWE Network as expected. Raw is three hours, Smackdown is two; not considering anything else, that's five hours of programming a week. Even sports fans have a hard time committing five hours week in and week out. WWE has no offseason so I believe the added hour of Raw has been to its detriment.

To answer your question, I would welcome Raw back down to two hours, be it from 8-10 PM or back to its original timeslot of 9-11 PM. I believe this would create a better flow, eliminate some of the hideous filler content and keep the viewer hungrier for more.

From the Ask WNW vault…

February 2013: Do you think the IWC have ruined wrestling for themselves? I understand that everyone has their opinion and are entitled to it, however, it just seems to me that people always complain about something whether someone isn’t getting pushed, the new title belt, or creative directions yet they keep tuning in the next week. What do you think? - The Internet Wrestling Community, or IWC, is one of the most passionate fan bases on the face of the earth. People that eat, breath and sleep quality pro wrestling and appreciate the art of the business. The IWC does not care to speak out when things drift too far to the mainstream and are always looking to offer a critical eye. I consider myself a member of the IWC and am thankful for my fellow IWCers that bring their passion to this business and this website. However, there are members of the IWC that are impossible to please as there are sects within any group or fan base that are impossible to please. By large, people don’t like change and even fear the unknown or untested. This can explain some of the reactions to the new WWE title belt. The very people that called for the change are the people criticizing it. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The solution from some of these people seems to be to return to the old “winged-Eagle” belt but again, I think this has more to do with the fact that people don’t like change.

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