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Huge Update On The Launch Of The WWE Network, Backstage News On Triple H's Vision For The Future Of WWE, Brian Gewirtz Replaced As Head Writer, CM Punk Assaults Fan At Raw, Major Attitude Era Stars Returning, Full Details On WWE Creative Shakeup & Who Off

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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, October 6, 2012 to Friday, October 12, 2012 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

WWE News

- Chris Jericho wrote the following on Twitter:

- Dolph Ziggler had a worked Twitter exchange with none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Check out the Tweets embedded below:

- Hornswoggle noted on Twitter he had a cholecystostomy. Below is the Tweet:

- Zack Ryder expressed frustration with his current position in WWE in an interview with Smacktalk Radio Live!Click here to listen to the interview. - The Kingston Whig-Standard has a new article online featuring quotes from Edge that was used to promote Tommy Dreamer's "House of Hardcore" show this weekend. While discussing his friendship with Dreamer, Edge claimed he wasn't offered a new WWE contract.

“I wasn’t offered another contract. I don’t know where people get their news from,” he added, calling the appearance [on Smackdown] “another day at the office.”

Edge was believed to be looking for a deal similar to that of Shawn Michaels with a large six-figure downside once his WWE contract expired on May 1, 2012 but the two sides were unable to come to terms. You can read the article in its entirety at this link. - We have learned more details on WWE's new multi-year agreement with Hulu. Basically, WWE had been "dragging their feet" and Hulu was about to walk away from the negotiating table if WWE didn't commit to something. Ultimately, the two sides agreed to a scaled down arrangement for a much lower licensing fee that would still allow WWE to pursue the WWE Network. As previously reported here on Premium, WWE was trying to play YouTube and Hulu against each other as well as "play chicken" with the cable and satellite providers. One observer says they could have gotten burned bad but didn't. Hulu wasn't happy with the games and took a "now or never" position, which forced WWE's hand. With that being stated, there is nothing new on clearances for the WWE Network as the company continues to struggle on that front. Vince McMahon has thought about trying to launch the network in Europe first as they've had more luck with television providers across the pond. If they go that route, there has been talk of launching an ad campaign to urge viewers in the United States to put pressure on their providers to launch the WWE Network domestically. In terms of a timetable, this plan would hopefully see the WWE Network launch in some form in Europe by Wrestlemania XXIX with hopes of launching in the United States by the end of 2013. They could still launch the network this year if they were willing to launch in a very select portion of the United States, which obviously would not be a good idea. - Cody Rhodes suffered a black eye at Sunday's WWE Smackdown live event in Reno, Nevada. Rhodes, in-character, posted the following on Twitter:

Rhodes tag team partner Damien Sandow Tweeted the following:

- Christian's scheduled appearance at the inaugural TNA Hall of Fame Ceremony this Saturday night is reportedly in doubt. I haven't heard why the appearance is in jeopardy of not happening but Christian was originally scheduled to appear as part of a deal WWE had with TNA in an exchange of talent for allowing Ric Flair to appear at the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony this year and at Wrestlemania XXVIII the following night. Christian appeared at Slammiversary in June and was scheduled to make his second appearance on Saturday.

- I'm told Triple H is "thrilled" with the setup of NXT Wrestling taping at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida, however, he still prefers to shutdown Florida Championship Wrestling in the long-term. While FCW is currently operating under the NXT name, Hunter reportedly has "no faith" in Steve Keirn or their setup. One thing really working against FCW is it was a John Laurinaitis project and Triple H has his own vision for developmental he wants to build from scratch. The revamp of FCW is currently seen as more of a band-aid. There are still plans to "phase out" the company's relationship with FCW in approximately six months although Hunter still likes the idea of developmental being in Florida. It's an uneasy situation where Keirn knows "the writing is on the wall" but WWE doesn't have anything setup in terms of a long-term permanent replacement. Because of this, plans to phase out FCW in favor of a new Triple H developmental system could still be a year out.

- John Cena was on "Live with Kelly and Michael" on Monday to discuss his recent surgery and WWE's partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure. You can watch video of the appearance here on dot com.

- WWE will return to the Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento, California, the venue of this week's Raw for a Smackdown taping on Tuesday, January 22, 2013. A presale begins during this week's Raw.

- Something went down on Monday with Vince McMahon and Senior Vice President of Creative Writing Brian Gewirtz. Reports surfaced earlier in the day Gewirtz had been removed as the head creative team writer for Raw but he wasn't Raw's head writer and was writing for Smackdown as well. Gewirtz held a senior position above the head writers for each brand. I can also confirm Gewirtz was not fired and remains on the company payroll. We heard things went "kaboom" and Brian is seen as Vince McMahon's "fall guy" but we aren't exactly sure what happened. Things were a mess backstage as I heard as of 7:45 PM EDT a large portion of this week's Raw was still being written. While things have been extra chaotic lately, they took a serious turn for the worse when last week's Raw and Smackdown put up abysmal ratings.

- In the latest update regarding WWE Creative, Brian Gewirtz was removed from his position as the Senior Vice President of Creative Writing but remains employed. He will be replaced by Eric Pankowski, who was hired in February, and previously worked as a senior executive at Reveille and Warner Bros. To make sure you are in the know, the head writer for Raw is David Kapoor (a/k/a Ranjin Singh). The head writer for Smackdown is Ed Koskey but something is reportedly going down with him, however, we are working to confirm. Gewirtz was working above both and anything they wrote had to be approved by him before going to Stephanie McMahon. Vince McMahon of course approves everything as he has the final say. Other members of the WWE creative team include Kevin Eck (formerly of The Baltimore Sun), Pat Patterson and Tom Cassielo. We should have much more following this week's WWE Raw.

- Larry King and his wife Shawn Southwick appeared on this week's WWE Raw in a segment with The Miz and Kofi Kingston.

- After this week's WWE Raw went off the air, World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus beat WWE CM Punk via disqualification when Punk hit a low blow on Sheamus. After the match, Sheamus gave Punk the Brogue Kick. The dark match is actually good news as Sheamus was checked out for a concussion after hitting his head in a match with Wade Barrett.

- There was an incident in the crowd involving WWE Champion CM Punk at this week's WWE Raw. Once Punk retreated to the crowd to avoid Ryback, Vince McMahon was on the mic. As Vince was speaking, Punk connected with a fan to the face and shoved him as the broadcast was going off the air. The entire incident was on-camera but Punk returned to the ring for the dark match main event.

- The tag team of Kofi Kingston & R-Truth is no more. The former WWE Tag Team Champions parted ways amicably on a video on the official WWE website. The reason cited was that the team's mission to revitalize the tag team division has been accomplished.

- TMZ has a story online on Alberto Del Rio tearing a fan's sign in half at a Smackdown live event in Anaheim last Saturday night. The mother of the fan, an 8-year-old child, is accusing Del Rio of being a bully and that her son immediately burst into tears and cried all the way home. The woman, identified as Shelly Ehler, sent a letter to WWE over the incident and says Sheamus, who the sign was about, offered to send her child a signed photo. Click here to read the story in its entirety.

- The fan that CM Punkhit at WWE Raw this week filed a report with Sacramento police. He claims his glasses were broke during the assault by the WWE Champion. Below a Tweet from Laura Cole, a reporter from CBS 13, who interviewed the fan:

- Randy Orton is scheduled for this week's Smackdown, as announced on this week's Raw. Orton wrote the following on Twitter:

- has a new Q&A online with Paul Heyman to promote WWE '13. Below is an excerpt:

So when you think back, how much of WWE’s Attitude Era is owed to what you were already doing in ECW?

Everything! It’s funny, because when you interview writers from that era, they will blatantly tell you that they’d watch ECW television, get ideas, sit on those ideas for a couple of months, then pitch them to Vince and say “Hey, I got this great idea for The Undertaker and The Big Show where they go through a ring,” failing to mention that they saw Taz and Bam Bam Bigelow do it in Asbury Park.

Vince McMahon became a billionaire based on Attitude, and Attitude was spawned by the ECW experience. If I could give you one sound bite, one headline, it’s this: Vince McMahon might not proclaim himself to be a Paul Heyman guy, but he sure should.

Click here to read the Q&A in its entirety.

- WWE issued the following statement in response to a mother's complaint that Alberto Del Rio"bullied" her son at a weekend live event in Anaheim:

"While Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez were portraying their WWE characters, we sincerely apologize for any misunderstanding that may have occurred."

- We reported earlier that the fan that was attacked by CM Punk last night on WWE Raw filed a police report. A WWE representative contacted TMZ about the incident as they picked up this story. Below is what the rep told them:

"WWE security was unfortunately not in the appropriate place at the time. Given CM Punk's persona as a 'bad guy' fans were naturally heckling him, but unfortunately a few fans began shoving him and one struck him in the kidney and on the back."

The rep adds, "WWE regrets that proper security measures were not in place, and CM Punk apologizes for reacting in the heat of the moment."

- Tensai's falling stock in WWE became evident this week when the company updated his bio on dot com. The following was written:

"Over the following months, Tensai quickly went from intimidating behemoth to overhyped disappointment. Despite impressive outings against John Cena and CM Punk, several frustrating losses to underdog Tyson Kidd led to Tensai assaulting his own associate Sakamoto on the July 30, 2012 edition of Raw. Is this beginning of a new, more focused Tensai? One can only assume that disaster will follow for his opponents until this star from multiple continents fulfills his destiny."

They have since edited his bio to read the following:

Over the following months, Tensai had impressive outings against John Cena and CM Punk. However, after several frustrating losses to Tyson Kidd, Tensai assaulted his own associate Sakamoto on the July 30, 2012, edition of Raw.

In fall 2012, an even more aggressive side of Tensai surfaced, as he tangled with the likes of Ryback and Sheamus. Is this the beginning of a new, more focused Tensai? One can only assume that disaster will follow for his opponents as this star from multiple continents looks to fulfill his destiny.

Click here to read Tensai's bio.

- WWE has their own coverage of CM Punk attacking a fan that includes their official statement. The statement is as follows:

“During Monday night’s Raw televised event, WWE Superstar CM Punk exited the ring and into the stands as part of the show. Unfortunately, WWE security was not in the appropriate place at the time. Given CM Punk’s persona as a ‘bad guy,’ fans were naturally heckling him, but unfortunately a few fans began shoving him, and one struck him in the kidney and on the back. WWE regrets that proper security measures were not in place, and CM Punk apologizes for reacting in the heat of the moment. Other than this isolated incident, WWE always provides proper security to ensure the safety of our fans and our performers.”

Dot com also has quotes from the WWE Champion himself:

“I think the whole situation sucks,” Punk told “It’s an unfortunate and isolated incident. I was up in the stands, surrounded.”

“Somebody said, ‘let’s push him down the stairs,’” Punk explained. “I got hit in the ribs three times. I was getting shoved and I was getting punched…Then I started getting tagged in the back of the head. Unfortunately, I lashed out in the heat of the moment and I apologize. I’m really just glad nobody was hurt.

Click here for coverage on

- The Miz will defend his Intercontinental Championship against Kofi Kingston on next week's WWE Main Event. Click here for this week's spoilers. Next week's WWE Main Event will be taped on October 16 from the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee.

- The fan that CM Punk attacked on this week's WWE Raw has been identified as Charles Schmidt. Schmidt doesn't intend to press charges but is considering hiring an attorney for a potential lawsuit. Despite Schmidt claiming his glasses were broken in the attack, he was not injured.

- Look for Attitude Era stars to be making appearances on upcoming episodes of WWE Raw and possibly even Smackdown to help promote WWE '13 which is due out at the end of the month.

- I'm told things are looking very good for sales of CM Punk: Best in the World. Some in the company are expecting it to break the record for first week sales. The only concern is that all of the diehard Punk fans have already purchased and it will need a solid weekend in sales to hit the mark.

- The closing segment of WWE Raw featuring the aftermath of Vince McMahon vs. CM Punk did a 3.6 rating and Vince was "very happy" viewers tuned back in.

- Vince McMahon will speak with John Cena again this weekend about his status for Hell in a Cell. As we reported first, Ryback wasn't a decoy but was actually placed in the program to give the company a backup plan. Should they have to go with Punk vs. Ryback if Cena is unable to go, Brock Lesnar has been their talked "out plan" for a match that would be impossible to book a clean outcome.

- WWE cameras were at Shawn Michaels' ranch Thursday in San Antonio to film footage for the upcoming Mick Foley DVD.

- Speaking of filming, WWE shot a commercial with Sheamus and David Otunga last week at the Coyle Law Firm in Oklahoma City. You can read more at this link.

- I spoke with one of my sources regarding the creative changes in WWE and was told the change was pretty "cut and dry" and nothing was "sneaky" or "outrageous." Basically ratings were down and it was time to make a change; Stephanie McMahon trusts Eric Pankowski thus he was given the position of Senior Vice President of Creative Writing. My source says it's amazing Brian Gewirtz lasted as long as he did and just about everyone said he was a marked man in terms of being in danger to be replaced. The ratings decline during his tenure was an obvious indicator change was needed and while it isn't believe Pankowski will do much better, most don't see how he can do worse. The most interesting aspect in the creative changes was how little input Triple H had. Those close to him say he realizes the ratings are going to continue to struggle with Raw's 3 hour format and rather than champion a new writer who ultimately ends up failing as well, he figured it was smart to sit this one out. Vince McMahon and Stephanie were the ones deciding replacements and Hunter was largely mum on the subject. I'm told every move Hunter is making right now has to do with "planting seeds" for the future and he is in no rush. One observer says it really doesn't matter who is head of creative right now because it's believed Hunter will replace them when he takes over anyway. This is also why so much of his focus right now is on developmental because he is much more concerned with how he plans to shape the product in 3-5 years than what is going on now.

- With Michael Cole serving as the play-by-play man for WWE Main Event, he was replaced on this week's Smackdown by John "Bradshaw" Layfield. No word on JBL's status with the company but he was interested in returning and has obviously got his foot back in the door.

- Dot com has a new video interview online with referee Scott Armstrong, conducted at this week's Smackdown taping, talking about working the CM Punk vs. Mr. McMahon match on this week's WWE Raw. Armstrong says it was a "real rush" when he found out he had the match. You can watch it at this link.

- The Rock, Brock Lesnar and John Cena are featured on the Wrestlemania XXIX promotional poster to promote the fact tickets go on sale Saturday, November 10th at 10 AM. You can view the poster below:

- For those wondering what the "crisscross, spiderweb-looking" tape was that covered John Cena's surgically repaired arm on WWE Raw on Monday night, it was SpiderTech, a type of athletic adhesive known as Kinesio Tape. The adhesive is used to speed recovery time. You can read more about the adhesive by an article on dot com at this link.

- Jerry Lawler is being advertised locally for next week's Smackdown taping in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

- John Cena is scheduled to serve as the honorary team captain of the New York Jets for their game against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. John is off this weekend's live events as he continues to recover from elbow surgery.

- Big Show is the scheduled to appear at the next set of NXT tapings on Thursday, November 15, 2012.

- Zack Ryder didn't exactly give this week's episode of Z! True Long Island Story a ringing endorsement. Ryder wrote the following on Twitter:

- WWE is now calling the stable of Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre "The Band." I'm not sure this will appease the many McIntyre fans but at least he has a storyline.

- Steve Austin posted a new blog entry on his official website Friday, giving an update from the filming of CMT's Redneck Island. In the blog, Austin gave an update on his knee which you can read below:

I will continue to rehab my knee down at the ranch. Speaking of my knee, it is feeling great. I am slowly regaining size and strength in my left leg. I had a new ACL and PCL grafted in on July 2 and I am happy with how everything is progressing.

Click here to read Austin's latest in its entirety.

- After informing his followers on Twitter Thursday night that this week's episode of Z! True Long Island Story would "suck" after the initial episode was rejected by WWE, Zack Ryder says there will be no new episode this week. The following is from Ryder's Twitter:

TNA News

- While we wrote about this significantly last year, Rob Van Dam's current agreement with TNA Wrestling is up in March 2013. There was a dispute about the contract's expiration last year as it is widely believed an option was renewed in March, which resulted in the extra year.

- Tara recently agreed to a new one year contract with TNA Wrestling. While the company was looking to lock her into a longer-term deal, Tara wanted to continue to work year-to-year as she has done since 2010. Tara is 41-years-old.

- TNA Wrestling sent out the following:

TNA IMPACT WRESTLING announces a number of major new global television partnerships, including a deal that brings its top-rated TV show, “IMPACT WRESTLING” to the Middle East and North Africa for the very first time.

TNA’s “IMPACT WRESTLING” has begun broadcasting on the popular FX Middle East channel at 10:30pm every Tuesday (local time.) The show is now seen in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, the Palestinian territories, Qatar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE, Yemen, Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Mauritania and Somalia.

Beginning mid-October, Egyptian fans will also be able to watch “TNA Xplosion” and TNA’s “Greatest Matches” thanks to a new partnership between TNA and Dream TV. The channel will shortly be announcing broadcast times for both shows.

Starting in early 2013, Kuwait TV will also begin airing archive episodes of TNA “IMPACT WRESTLING” under the “CLASSIC IMPACT” brand.

TNA has also made a number of strides in Eastern Europe and is now airing on GSP TV in Romania with TNA’s “IMPACT WRESTLING” being broadcast every Monday at 8:00pm and “TNA Xplosion” airing each Wednesday at 8:00pm (local times). GSP TV will also broadcast TNA’s monthly pay-per-view events including “Bound For Glory,” “Lockdown” and “Slammiversary.”

TNA’s debut on Orange Sport in Poland earlier this year was also very successful, with high ratings and positive media coverage.

A number of TNA’s current international TV partners have recently signed contract extensions, including Thailand’s GMM Grammy Sport One, which will now broadcast “TNA Unfinished Business” and TNA’s “Greatest Matches” alongside TNA “IMPACT WRESTLING” every week.

“I’m thrilled that this year has seen us bring the very best in professional wrestling to more and more people around the world,” stated TNA President Dixie Carter. “The TNA IMPACT WRESTLING family is growing all the time, and I can’t wait to chat to all our new fans from every corner of the globe on Facebook and Twitter.”

- The Phoenix News Times has a new Q&A online with Bully Ray. Ray, fully in character, is pressed to give a non-kayfabe answer to Devon leaving TNA Wrestling. Below is an excerpt:

What are your feelings about Devon leaving TNA?
I really could not care less about Devon. I haven't cared about Devon in almost two years. If Devon didn't let Chris Sabin kick out of the 3-D, I would've never blasted him in the back of the head and turned on him. Devon is not my concern. I have one business interest in Devon outside of TNA and that is [our] professional wrestling school, the Team 3-D Academy. Other than that, I really don't care about him.

Could you comment on Devon leaving TNA in a non-kayfabe way?
I don't understand. Non kay...what?

Not in character.
I'm giving you my legit answer. I...really...don' Whatever he does with his time, and whatever he wants to do is fine. We have one business interest that is extremely successful, so we choose to continue with that successful business interest, which is our wrestling academy. Other than him deciding not to sign, his business. He doesn't want to be with TNA, his business. Whatever he decides to do with his life, his business.

Click here to read the Q&A in its entirety.

For a non-kayfabe report on the legitimate tension between Bully Ray and Devon, click here.

- Christopher Daniels was interviewed by The Daytona Beach News-Journal to promote this Sunday's Bound for Glory pay-per-view.

Daniels was asked what about the storyline between him Dixie Carter, AJ Styles, and Claire Lynch as to what worked and what didn't. Daniels response is below:

It was something they put a lot of time and thought into, almost a year. The history between me and AJ helped, with our careers being so closely intertwined. I think when people think of AJ's best matches in TNA, my name comes up. AJ's success, notoriety and popularity really made that stick. No one had ever accused a top performer of something like this. The story line was very Maury Povich. We got "Maury Povich" and "Jerry Springer" chants at the show. When it came time to do the stuff in the ring, it was me and AJ Styles.

The interview also has Daniels talking about the tag team division in TNA Wrestling and in WWE. He discusses the Aces and 8s storyline, being live for the rest of the year, and more. The full interview can be seen here.

- Sting appeared on News 12 Arizona to promote the upcoming Bound For Glory pay-per-view. The short clip can be seen here.

- TNA Wrestling's Hulk Hogan appeared on The Today Show to promote Bound For Glory. While on air, he discussed the recent video that was made public of him, his beach shop in Florida, and the pay-per-view.

- Spike TV will feature a "Countdown to Bound for Glory" special on Sunday, October 14th at 7 PM ET/4 PM PT.

- TNA Knockout Women's Champion Miss Tessmacher pulled her hamstring in a match against Tara at the October 5th TNA live event in Hot Springs, Arkansas. She is still scheduled to work Sunday's Bound for Glory pay-per-view.

- It has been a media frenzy for Hulk Hogan in the past week from promoting TNA Bound For Glory to the sex tape that was recently released. Hogan appeared on Piers Morgan Tonight but he also appeared on Showbiz Tonight.

- The infamous Hulk Hogan sex tape we've been blackballing was leaked by a former employee of Bubba the Love Sponge, RadarOnline.comhas reported. n Bubba's staff was reportedly left unpaid when he left satellite radio which served as the motive in releasing the embarrassing footage. Now that the mystery has been solved, the story isn't going away as we have more in terms of the fallout of the tape that we will be covering over the next couple of days.

- Animal Planet has renewed Off the Hook: Extreme Catches featuring TNA'sEric Young for a second season. The order is for 18 half-hour episodes to premiere next summer. The series averaged 620,000 viewers per episode this summer in its first season. Broadcasting & Cable has more available at this link.

- The Phoenix News Times has a lengthy interview online with Sting to promote TNA Bound for Glory. Below is an excerpt:

Would you ever work in India for TNA's sister company Ring Ka King?

You know, if it comes about, I wouldn't say no to it. I'd like to say I did that at least once. So yeah, I'd be willing to do something like that.

Conversely, do you think you'll ever make it into the WWE's Hall of Fame? Especially since they've inducted people who were never even involved with the federation, like Eddie Graham or Gordon Solie?

Well, I know every year there seems to be talk of it. There's rumors that always fly. It was all over the Internet pretty big last year or the year before. So, I don't know, especially now that I will be inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame. They may just turn the page at that point. I have no idea.

What would it take for them to get you in a WWE ring?

Ahhh...It's too tough of a question to answer because its not just what they would do. It would have to depend on what the dynamics of that particular time would be. What's going on? What's the context? For example, right here with TNA. What are my choices? You just never say never.

Is there anyone in the WWE or Ring of Honor that you'd still like to hook up with someday?

Everybody knows, as far as non-TNA wrestlers, it would have to be Taker. Always wanted to have one real cool thing with Taker.

Is it frustrating that Hogan's controversy is dominating the mainstream media's coverage of TNA and stealing the spotlight a bit from the buildup for Bound for Glory, the biggest pay-per-view of the year? Or is bad publicity still publicity, period?

Well, I don't necessarily believe that people that are going to buy a ticket or pay attention to Bound For Glory -- whether they just found out about it, don't know about it, or whatever. I don't think the tape or anything like that is going to have any bearing. They're there to see Bound For Glory. People are coming to see the TNA wrestling stars and they want to see the storyline unfold. I don't think that he is outshining TNA (laughs). Maybe from, you know, the rest of the world, but the TNA audience itself? Yeah, I'm sure they're going to be curious about it, but -- for the most part -- they care about the storylines. They want to watch Bound For Glory. That's what I believe.

Click here to read the interview in its entirety.

- Former WWE Tough Enough contestant and developmental Diva Ivelisse Velez (a/k/a Sofia Cortez) worked a dark match after this week's Impact Wrestling taping against Tara Ivelisse said in September she was shocked by her WWE release.


With Christian going to TNA's Bound For Glory PPV next Sunday and the fact that Christian hasn't been used in WWE lately, is there a possibility of Christian returning to TNA?

As we first reported here on Premium, Vince McMahon issued a directive in August that Christian was not to be prominently featured on WWE TV until after he had fulfilled his commitment with TNA Wrestling. While out, Christian underwent some type of outpatient surgical procedure and the news was leaked out so TNA couldn't accuse WWE of acting in bad faith. Monday morning word leaked out the scheduled appearance was in doubt. As for Christian returning to TNA, he is under WWE contract and didn't want to make the "tradeoff appearances" in the first place. I'm not saying he dislikes TNA but from everything I've heard, he's happy in WWE.

Do you see Ryback as WWE Champion?

While Ryback seems to be turning the corner as a viable main eventer, he's not ready to be WWE Champion. If he is added to John Cena vs. CM Punk [at Hell in a Cell] there are ways to utilize him, however, if he replaces Cena, it turns into a booking nightmare. The WWE Championship match at Hell in a Cell will likely be announced on this week’s Raw.

Does the WWE plan on testing out any 3D broadcasting in the near future?

WWE surveyed fans about 3D programming a couple years ago and were preparing to move forward, however, plans were halted with recent data that showed a slowdown in demand for 3D television. 3D is where HD was around 10 years ago in that it is available but not widely consumed. Should that change, and I expect it will, WWE will likely pursue plans to move forward. Right now, the majority of efforts are being spent on Vince McMahon's dream of the WWE Network.

Will WWE ever understand quality over quantity? I feel like WWE Main Event is going to end up just like WWE Superstars. Your thoughts?

The main event of last week's WWE Main Event was WWE Champion CM Punk vs. World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus. This week's main event is Randy Orton vs. Big Show. Not to sound condescending but those don't exactly sound like WWE Superstars matches. I understand what you are saying in that WWE starts shows out with strong cards as WWE Superstars started strong before becoming the forgettable broadcast it is today. However, we can't say WWE Main Event is "just like WWE Superstars" until it becomes less than what it is.

Given Chris Jericho was suspended for the infamous flag incident in Brazil, do you see CM Punk getting suspended for hitting a fan?

WWE is gathering all the information and we can confirm a police report was filed. Chris Jericho was suspended to save-face from negative publicity so it's obviously a possibility. Had it been someone lower on the card, they could have faced termination. Given the fact it was Punk I don't look for that to happen but I don't see how he gets out of this one without facing repercussions.

What is your take on CM Punk striking the fan?

There is no excuse to ever get physical with a fan. We could try and make an argument that the fan "deserved it" but Punk assaulted the wrong fan. The one pestering him walked away unscathed while the tape shows an incident onlooker got struck and his glasses broke. However, I'm not going to put the blame completely on Punk, as event staff and security are at fault for not containing the crowd around Punk. It's their job to keep the workers safe when they go into the crowd and they failed at that on Raw. With that being said workers have a responsibility to remain composed no matter what.

If the winners of the tag team tournament don't win the WWE Tag Team Championship, will that make the entire competition pointless? Or is it very predictable they will win so to avoid such scrutiny?

Most readers seem to be happy with the renewed emphasis placed on the tag team division so I do not think a successful defense from Team Hell No renders the tournament pointless. Tournaments are fun for a change of pace and in this case, helped a division that has been forgot about in recent years.

With Vince McMahon giving up his body on this week's WWE Raw for the good of the product, is this a signal to everyone else to "step it up"?

Lost in the CM Punk incident is the fact this week's WWE Raw had an outstanding ending. Vince McMahon showed he can still get over as good as anyone on the roster, Ryback has turned the corner and drew great crowd reactions and I was entertained throughout the show's main event. I absolutely think Vince was sending a message with his work and the fact he can use himself to increase interest is pretty remarkable in itself.

Do you think CM Punk assaulting the fan proves he doesn't have what it takes to be the face of the company?

CM Punk isn't the face of the company, that role still belongs to John Cena. While Punk is clearly "option 1B," no one is going to look at Punk as bigger than Cena. I'm not saying I enjoy Cena's character over Punk's either because as a 27-year-old, I prefer the former but in terms of standing amongst the WWE office, Cena is their guy. As for the incident doing any damage to Punk's influence and overall position in the company, read this article on Richard's Backstage Blog.

Given the creative team changes in WWE what is the latest on Vince McMahon and Paul Heyman meeting?

As we reported exclusively here on Premium, Vince McMahon met with Paul Heyman last week to discuss WWE creative ideas. A spot on the creative team was not offered to Heyman but Vince did speak with him after the ratings debacle. Creative changes took place and we are still awaiting full details on how everything was put back together.

With WWE promoting the fact Smackdown had three times more viewers than UFC's Ultimate Fighter, do you think Vince McMahon is trying to start another war or just toot his own horn?

The "Did You Know?" fact was a shot at UFC as part of an ongoing set of ribs from Vince McMahon to Dana White. Why you may ask? I covered that in detail here on Richard's Backstage Blog. In short, until Dana stands up to Vince, it's not going to stop.

What do you feel is the biggest reason Ryback has gotten over?

Ryback has persevered through turmoil and is on the brink of becoming a viable main event worker. I'll be the first to admit I thought the gimmick was doomed for failure but Ryback continued to shrug off adversity and do the only thing he can control which is play his character. He was over like rover on this week's Raw and is taking advantage of a rare opportunity by having Vince McMahon support him. The message I felt Vince sent to the locker room on this week's show was "step up" or "step out" and I feel Ryback has "stepped up" when everyone including the fans and his co-workers doubted him.

Why does WWE continue to do things such as 3-on-1 beatdowns, sneak attacks and cheap shots if they are serious about their anti-bullying campaign?

We've highlighted hypocrisy in WWE's be-A-star anti-bullying campaign in the past, however, the stuff you mentioned is not bullying. Heels being heels are part of the show and essential to make the business work. The story of the woman claiming Alberto Del Rio bullied her son for ripping his sign at a weekend live event is ridiculous and probably a ploy to draw mainstream media attention. There are boundaries that have been crossed that shouldn't have been but it's also important to remember what you see on television is scripted entertainment (most of the time). There is no need to "check your brain at the door" and I believe most people understand the difference between entertainment and reality.

Does CM Punk have a real problem and animosity against The Rock?

CM Punk, like many other workers in WWE, has legitimate beef with how The Rock is able to come in as a part-timer, dominate the spotlight for a select number of appearances and leave only to return and do it again. Many, if not most, of the workers that are on the road 300 days out of the year feel the same way. However, the stuff that is likely to be used on WWE programming will be "turned up" a couple notches to get it over in storyline. As for my thoughts, if a worker gets over and draws, they should be able to do so. I have no problem with part-time talent if they create interesting and compelling programs. Rather than criticize the part-timers, I feel people like CM Punk should try and become bigger stars to where there is no need to utilize past stars. Do you think either The Rock or Steve Austin needed Hulk Hogan to come in and sell pay-per-views?

Update: I know I have to be careful when I'm critical of Punk but let me try a second attempt to clarify my point. The Rock, Steve Austin, Mick Foley and D-Generation X were responsible for defeating WCW in the height of the Monday Night Wars. They drove ratings, pay-per-view buyrates and merchandise sales that ultimately sent a billionaire in Ted Turner scrambling to unload the money hole WCW had become. For those talking about Wrestlemania 18, upon which point Hulk Hogan returned to face The Rock, this was AFTER the war had been won. The Attitude Era ended in March 2001 when McMahon purchased World Championship Wrestling.

If Raw was two hours and did a 2.5 rating then what would people complain about? It's an hour extra and people are blowing a gasket for no reason.

I don't necessarily think people are upset about the length of WWE Raw as they are at the lack of entertaining content. This week's Raw was better but it still included material that could have been cut and would have been just as entertaining. One of the things we've seen with the three-hour shows is viewer fatigue setting in, with people tuning out for the third and final hour. Three hours is a long time to watch anything but it's especially difficult when it's not compelling television. Expanding to three hours has worn everyone out, starting with the writers and producers and going all the way through the roster. As for viewership, four million viewers should be an absolutely minimum and last week we saw that number go below that floor which is disturbing.

With CM Punk name dropping Steve Austin so much is there a chance a match will happen at Wrestlemania XXIX next year?

WWE wants the match to happen but it depends on Steve Austin's availability, health and desire to work again. The booking will be complicated but one can only hope it gets done. However, I don't think anyone doesn't believe the basic groundwork has been laid for the possible dream match.

I'm attending the Raw live event in Jackson, Tennessee this weekend. I got an email from the venue on Wednesday night saying John Cena would not be there and I could call a number for information regarding a refund. Is it normal for refunds to be offered?

WWE has been offering refunds to weekend live events that advertised John Cena in the main event. While Cena's elbow clean out was an issue he knew he was going to eventually need done, he decided on the time between Night of Champions and Hell in a Cell to do it. This is why it wasn't planned and WWE still advertised Cena for the shows. They have also been offering refunds at the shows themselves through the second match. As for Cena, he doesn't know if he'll be able to work Hell in a Cell which is the reason for Ryback and the fact the pay-per-view main event hasn't been officially announced.

Last year, I agreed with you that putting the Rock over John Cena at Wrestlemania was a bad idea since Cena is the face of the company and The Rock is not a full-time performer. That being said, since WWE is exploring more opportunities to bring back former talent (Rock, Brock, possibly Austin) would you agree that putting The Rock over was a smart move since it shows former stars aren't guaranteed to come back simply to put over the younger guys and that they might actually win their matches?

Hindsight is 20/20 but I might have felt differently about The Rock going over John Cena had I known he was going to work again. For all I knew last year at Wrestlemania XXVIII was going to be Rock's last match and I wasn't sure the kind of message it sent putting him over the face of the company only to go back to filming movies. However, I wish I could explain why WWE brought Brock Lesnar back for millions of dollars yet put him under in his first match back at a B-level show in Extreme Rules. Booking part-time talent is complicated because it poses the issue of how is this going to make us look in the long-term? Unfortunately Vince McMahon doesn't seem to be overly concerned about the long-term and is focused on short-term buy rates. Triple H seems to be thinking more about the company's future as he should be given the fact he'll be calling the shots one day.

You've made comments on the way WWE’s product is consumed and that ties into my question of in the modern world, does WWE take into account those of us that use DVRs to watch their programming? I just finished last week’s Raw and won’t get to see this week’s Raw until later and probably in smaller chunks. That also ties directly into your comments on having to sit through three hours of programming.

DVRs are accounted for later in the week in terms of ratings. However, the measure the company uses for how many people are viewing their programming, are how many people watch the show live. This information is provided by Nielsen Media Research and posted here once we receive it.

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