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Ryback Shoots On The Internet; Rubs Media The Wrong Way, Bray Wyatt Injured, Hogan's Contract Status, WWE Title Change Moved Up, Why Punk/Ryback Was Changed, Heat On WWE Announcer, Cena's Future, When Universal Was Contacted About Impact Return, 2 WWE Ret

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WNW Premium Newsletter

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 12, 2013 to Friday, October 181, 2013 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

- Ryback did an interview with local media in Abu Dhabi this week to promote WWE's current tour. My interest in the interview was heightened because I was told that Ryback was "not really up to doing media" for anyone in Abu Dhabi. I listened through twice and compiled the following highlights:

Ryback said that Paul Heyman was going to help bring him to the next level and while it's something that would have happened on its own anyways, having Heyman with him may speed up the process a little. He said he loves having Heyman around him.

When asked about his dream opponent for Wrestlemania XXX, Ryback said that a lot of people put a little too much credit in the Internet. He said it's run by a lot of negative people that should not have an opinion, according to him. Ryback said a lot of "them" have no clue how to live life. If he could pick one opponent for Wrestlemania it would be The Undertaker because he wants to be the guy to end the streak. He likes getting people mad and pissed off and for every person that says he doesn't deserve that or he can't do that, he will prove them wrong… because "all of you" suck.

Ryback said growing up he loved Razor Ramon, British Bulldog, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. He said there was no one he didn't like and he loved WWE. He said there was never a guy that he looked at that he hated. Another thing that blows him away about the business today is the fans can go on social media and complain about things.

When asked if he had any close friends in WWE, Ryback said he's there to be his best and that he gets along with everyone very well. He said as far as guys he would consider friends, he's kind of a lone wolf but he gets along with Daniel Bryan and Wade Barrett very well. Ryback said he travels alone, works out alone, eats alone and goes back to Vegas alone. He said he's not there to be buddy-buddy with everyone.

You can watch the interview for yourself at this link.

- The WWE NXT Twitter account announced that Charlotte, the daughter of Ric Flair, is this month's "NXT Diva of the Month." The following is from Twitter:

- Mark Henry represented WWE at the 10th annual Stars and Stripes fundraiser hosted by The USO of Metropolitan Washington on October 4, 2013. You can view photos of Henry at the event at this link and read a local news story at this link.

- This week's episode of Backstage Fallout Smackdown is now online at this link.

- The cover to the first issue of Mick Foley's new WWE comic book series is included below:

- Filming has wrapped for See No Evil 2 starring Kane.

- ABC Family released official details for "Christmas Bounty" starring The Miz at this link. The film will premiere on the network on Tuesday, November 26 at 7 PM ET/PT.

- Bray Wyatt was injured at Saturday night's WWE live event in Providence, Rhode Island. The injury occurred during a six man tag match in which The Wyatt Family was opposing The Prime Time Players and R-Truth. When Bray was chasing Darren Young down the ramp, he tripped and went down hard. They took the match home when it was clear he was injured and he was helped to the back by fellow Wyatt Family members. While an official diagnosis is not available as of press time, early indications are the injury was to his ankle. He was unable to support his body weight after the injury.

- For those that missed it on Saturday, we recapped an interview that Ryback did while doing media in Abu Dhabi (See also - Ryback Shoots On The Internet, Wants To End The Streak, Rubs Abu Dhabi Media The Wrong Way?). Perhaps bigger than the story itself was the discussion that ensued between WNW readers and staff as to where Ryback should be booked. Early Sunday morning, the man himself decided to weigh in. The following is from Twitter:

Now the first thing that I want to point out here is Ryback is a heel. If anyone questions him about this Tweet he can dismiss it as an attempt to "play to the audience." However, I think this Tweet adds complete justification to my complaints with him. Allow me to explain.

I do not hate Ryback, I just don't think he's a main event talent...

Ryback was doing fine before WWE decided to strap the rocket pack on him last fall. I don't think anyone saw him as a top guy but he looked like a top guy. So they didn't want to put him over CM Punk and book him with confidence but they wanted to use him as a stopgap main eventer. The lack of confidence in him as a top guy did him no favors, especially given the fact that WWE tried to elevate him as an unstoppable monster. The tag line of "feed me more" was invalidated by consecutive pay-per-view jobs in 2012 at Hell in a Cell, Survivor Series and WWE TLC.

After blowing off his title feud with CM Punk in January 2013, Ryback hit a new low with his job to Mark Henry at Wrestlemania 29. It became clear that any momentum that WWE had with Ryback was lost and it was time to try something different. The following night WWE decided to pull the trigger on a Ryback heel turn.

Given a change in plans with The Rock unavailable for Extreme Rules, Ryback was re-inserted right back to the top of the card and given a feud with John Cena for the WWE title. However, the problems that plagued him just months earlier popped up once again. WWE didn't see Ryback as a viable WWE Champion but they needed someone to operate as a stopgap main eventer and present a believable challenge to Cena. Once again, he was booked without confidence at Extreme Rules and WWE Payback.

Back to where they started, WWE introduced a new twist to the Ryback character that featured him "bullying" call-ins backstage. As with the initial heel turn, this new wrinkle was well-received by the majority of the audience. However, with injuries stacking up and WWE in need of more talent at the top of the card, another main event opportunity came knocking.

This time WWE wanted to pair someone new with Paul Heyman to insert in the ongoing feud with CM Punk. As we reported here on Premium, it came down to Ryback and Big E Langston. Ryback was chosen for the role and was selected to oppose CM Punk.

Right back on the proverbial treadmill, he's booked under to Punk at WWE Battleground and headed into to an underwhelming rematch at Hell in a Cell later this month. Ryback hasn't stuck as a main eventer because he's not ready to be a main eventer. However, WWE's persistence to "force him to the audience" comes due to the fact the roster is ravaged by injuries and in dire need of believable threats.

The Chris Jericho test…

Sandwiched in-between main event programs, Ryback was given a golden opportunity to prove his worth to WWE and the audience. The opportunity came at WWE Money in the Bank 2013 where he was booked in a match against Chris Jericho. Jericho is a guy that is one of the best in-ring performers of all time but under his most recent run, he remained committed to helping WWE get newer talent over. This was very clear throughout 2013 as Jericho worked stellar matches, where he didn't mind "doing the honors."

At the time, I commented that Money in the Bank was an opportunity for Ryback to have the pressure taken completely off and show fans [and the office] that he's capable of a top spot. I watched the Jericho match very closely and I will honestly say, Ryback failed the test. The match was slow and methodical and Ryback did nothing to help his cause. It's not that the bout was terrible but this was his chance to prove his worth and there was nothing memorable about the 11:20 encounter.

Problematic behavior out of the ring…

A lack of confidence from WWE in Ryback as a viable main event talent isn't the only thing that has blemished his run as a singles superstar. Ryback has racked up the behind-the-scenes incidents that have left more than a few people rolling their eyes about his maturity and ability to handle a top spot.

February 25, 2013: We reported here on Premium that Ryback was upset over the fact he would not be challenging for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 29 and was pushing for a heel turn. It was a heel turn he ended up getting but he was very upset and outspoken about the booking of his character.

April 16, 2013: Ryback got a little too personal in his program with John Cena and brought up his highly publicized divorce on Twitter. Here's what Ryback wrote, "Watching the pain on Cena’s face was worth standing back for. Funny the 2 things he says I lack his ex wife seems to love. #RybackRules" In what almost seemed like a desperate attempt to get fans to buy him as a viable heel, Ryback took a personal low blow at the face of the company. All while mentioning in media interviews that he felt no one had really challenged Cena for the top spot and he was going to be the guy to take it. The Tweet was later deleted.

May 20, 2013: Ryback infuriated Vince McMahon with a promo for his match at WWE Payback when he proclaimed that he was going to take the entire audience to the morgue with John Cena. (See also -Exclusive Details On What Ryback Did That Made Vince McMahon Irate & Played A Significant Role In Changing The WWE Payback Main Event)

June 3, 2013: There was an issue where Ryback broke kayfabe on live television that got him some heat. He also complained on Daniel Bryan for "working stiff."

September 23, 2013: There was an incident backstage at WWE Raw after blowing a table spot with CM Punk on live television, where Ryback told a producer that Punk should have bumped better. Punk found out about what Ryback said and it resulted in words being exchanged backstage. (See also -Blown Spot On Raw Causes An Uproar Backstage & Two Top Stars Nearly Come To Blows – Who Was Involved & The Fallout From It, Why There Was Chaos Before This Week’s Show, RVD Working More Than Originally Agreed Upon, Why Randy Orton Is Seeing A Doctor Today)

October 12, 2013: We were made aware of problematic behavior regarding Ryback and the local Abu Dhabi media. According to Wesam El Nemr, who interviewed Ryback for, Ryback interacted very poorly and was uninterested in doing media for the event. Nemr said it was so bad that he actually reached out to the WWE office about how Ryback was the worst WWE media appearance that he's ever done.

Where to go from here…

A lot of people think that I do not see value in Ryback and that couldn't be further from the truth. Ryback's size alone, at 6'3 nearly 300lbs, gives him plenty of value. The Great Khali, with his size and large international following, gives him value. However, just because someone has value does not mean that person is a top star. To give you a sports comparison, LeBron James doesn't win his second NBA Championship if Ray Allen doesn't hit a key three-pointer in a pressure situation. However, just because Allen made it possible for LeBron to win the title, his value is not more than James himself. This is a similar situation here.

When I look at Ryback, I see a guy with plenty of opportunities in the mid-card. I see someone the company could bring along by way of a secondary title and "see where it goes." However, he's been continuously force fed off and on as a top guy for a year now and is no further along today than he was at Hell in a Cell 2012. The rocket pack push didn't work for Ryback like it worked for Sheamus. It hasn't completely flopped, because there are some of you that are big Ryback fans, but it hasn't established him as the next WWE Champion either.

Attaching Paul Heyman to Ryback helps him because it gives him a mouthpiece and an opportunity where the pressure doesn't rest solely on his shoulders. However, Ryback is proving to be very green on and off the job and those are issues that must be fixed if he will ever have a chance to surpass John Cena as the face of the WWE.

- Dave Batista has wrapped his first major movie role as filming has concluded for the upcoming "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie. Batista said at one point that landing the role really justified his decision to leave WWE.

- Ted DiBiase returned to the ring for the first time since leaving WWE this weekend. DiBiase beat Colt Cabana in a match at Family Wrestling Entertainment's show in Brooklyn, New York. He did a gimmick where he didn't need WWE because he was a self-made millionaire.

- The Undertaker and Michelle McCool were photographed at the Bradley vs. Marquez fight in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night. Click here to view it.

- WWE was shooting interviews for an upcoming DVD on Shawn Michaels at last week's episode of Monday Night Raw. According to, the set will be based around HBK's best Wrestlemania matches and is slated for a first quarter 2014 release.

- Mick Foleyconfirmed on Facebook that WWE cameras will be filming at his November 17th comedy show in Smithtown, New York for a future project.

- Jim Ross updated his blog on his official website where he discussed the lack of main event depth in WWE, among other things. Click here to read it.

- Bray Wyatt didn't work Sunday night in Philadelphia after being injured on Saturday in Providence, Rhode Island. Wyatt did appear at Sunday's show, remaining at the top of the ramp in his rocking chair while Erick Rowan and Luke Harper worked The Prime Time Players.

- Nikki Bella is still not completely healthy, which is why she isn't tagging with Brie Bella on WWE live events. Instead, Brie worked the weekend loop with Eva Marie as her tag team partner.

- Big Show is a scheduled guest for the October 24, 2013 WWE NXT taping in Winter Park, Florida. The storyline is that he had "contractual obligations" to appear despite being "fired." For those that missed it, Show worked Saturday in Abu Dhabi because he had a "one night contract" to oppose Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins.

- WWE posted part one of a WWE 2K14 sneak peek at this link.

- The latest word on Bray Wyatt is that he suffered a calf injury at Saturday's WWE live event in Providence, not an ankle injury as originally believed. He's expected to be re-evaluated at Raw on Monday.

- WWE is taking full advantage of social media in the Big Show "firing" angle. The company announced Monday on dot com that Xavier Woods from NXT has launched an online petition, demanding that Show be re-hired. You can check it out at this link.

- Stephanie McMahon is scheduled to speak at Boston University on October 24, 2013 as part of their Alumni Weekend 2013 events. According to the university's official website, McMahon will present a master class in Building your own personal brand. The event will take place from 4-5 PM at the Metcalf Science Center, 590 Commonwealth Avenue, Auditorium 109. Pre-registration is required and you must have a valid faculty or student ID to attend. Any unused alumni seats will be released 5 minutes prior to the event.

- WWE announced "The Streak" mode for the upcoming WWE 2K14 video game. You can read all about it here on dot com.

- Shawn Michaels is scheduled to appear live on this week's episode of WWE Monday Night Raw. Michaels returned last week as he'll operate as the special guest referee in Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan for the vacant WWE title at Hell in a Cell later this month.

- Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns will defend their Tag Team Championship against Cody Rhodes & Goldust at tonight's Monday Night Raw. In addition, Shawn Michaels is scheduled to make an appearance.

- The 10/11/13 episode of WWE Smackdown received an average viewing audience of 2,453,000 on Syfy. The show ended up getting an 1.82 cable rating.

- CM Punk will face Ryback & Paul Heyman inside Hell in a Cell at this year's WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. Punk chose the stipulation after winning a "Beat The Clock" challenge on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw.

- Cody Rhodes & Goldust defeated Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins of The Shield on this week's Monday Night Raw to become the new WWE Tag Team Champions. Click here for full results from this week's Raw.

- WWE announced prior to this week's Monday Night Raw that WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee is cleared to compete. She was sent home from last week's show due to concussion symptoms. AJ had physical contact with Brie Bella on this week's show.

- After this week's episode of WWE Monday Night Raw, Daniel Bryan beat Randy Orton with a running knee. After the match, Bryan invited referee Chad Patton back to the ring. He asked the crowd if they wanted to see an RKO. Patton did the "Yes! Yes! Yes!" chant and after the third one, Bryan hit Orton with the RKO to send the crowd home happy. WWE will return to the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri on Friday, January 17, 2014. The presale code to obtain tickets is WWE STL.

- There were a lot of people surprised that AJ Lee was medically cleared so quickly following being sent home from last week's Monday Night Raw in Pittsburgh. AJ was in really bad shape, with slurred speech and needing assistance to walk. She had significant memory loss and was complaining of seeing fog. There was even concern at one point whether or not she should get on an airplane. We're also told that AJ has been dealing with an elbow injury that she suffered back in September. AJ is seen as someone that is extremely tough and doesn't mind working through injury. However, it should be noted that she had to pass an Impact Concussion Test before she could receive clearance from a concussion. AJ returned on this week's episode of Raw, where she continued her program with Brie Bella.

- Wrestling News World reader Dustyn sent in this photo of Edmonton Oilers backup goalie Jason LaBarbera's mask. The mask features CM Punk as LaBarbera is a known wrestling fan.

- WWE is scheduled to return to Vancouver on Saturday, December 7, 2013 for a live event. (Thanks to WNW reader Dustyn for sending this in.)

- CM Punk is booked for Tuesday night's Smackdown taping in Kansas City, Missouri. If you attend and think you see me, that's my identical twin brother Ryan Gray.

- Following this week's episode of Monday Night Raw, below is the updated lineup for WWE Hell in a Cell:

Hell in a Cell Match for the Vacant WWE Championship
Special guest referee - Shawn Michaels
- Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton

World Heavyweight Championship Match
- Alberto Del Rio © vs. John Cena<

Handicap Hell in a Cell Match
- CM Punk vs. Ryback & Paul Heyman

WWE Hell in a Cell 2013 will take place Sunday, October 27, 2013 fro the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida. We'll have exclusive live play-by-play coverage here at

- Bray Wyatt is not cleared to compete following a calf injury suffered Saturday night in Providence, Rhode Island. The word going around at Raw was that the injury is likely to keep him from working at Hell in a Cell in a couple of weeks. As a result, his program with The Miz is expected to be extended.

- This week's episode of Backstage Fallout Raw is subtitled "Breaking The Shield" and it's online now at this link.

- For those that missed the John Cena video package that aired on Monday Night Raw, you can watch it at this link. In Ask WNW, I discussed why Cena will go down as one of the greatest of all-time. Click here to have your feathers ruffled.

- Here's a link to an interview that Daniel Bryan did to promote Raw in St. Louis.

- Variety is reporting that The Rock is set to star in New Line’s 3D disaster pic “San Andreas.” Production for the film is set to begin in the first quarter of next year.

Backstage news from WWE Raw in St. Louis…

- We're told Vince McMahon "hijacked" this week's script for Monday Night Raw and changed just about everything. Changes specifically mentioned to us included doing the WWE Tag Team Championship title change and adding Paul Heyman to Ryback vs. CM Punk while adding the Hell in a Cell stipulation. The plan is now for Cody & Goldust to defend the straps against Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns at the pay-per-view. As for Punk vs. Ryback being changed, we're told Triple H was against two Hell in a Cell bouts on the pay-per-view but Vince felt there wasn't enough interest in Punk vs. Ryback in another rematch. Aside from that, Vince was very happy with the main event and impressed with the in-ring work of everyone.

- For those that missed it, Jerry Lawler misspoke on this week's Monday Night Raw when he called it a "Tito Ortiz swing." Lawler meant to reference Boston Red Sox Designated Hitter David Ortiz and we're told production wasn't happy about him inadvertently mentioning Tito.

- As I reported here on, there continues to be a lot of talk about AJ Lee being cleared to return to the ring one week after being sent home due to concussion symptoms. AJ's symptoms were intense and at the time, there was concern that it could have been one of the worst concussions ever suffered by a female talent. However, as is the case with concussions, every situation is different and no one knows how quickly someone will cover. WWE is being cautious and she isn't expected to do a lot of bumping until the pay-per-view, where she is expected to defend the Divas Championship.

- The latest tag team feud is expected to be The Real Americans vs. Los Matadores.

- This week's episode of WWE Monday Night Raw did an average viewing audience of 3,992,000 viewers on the USA Network. Below is how the numbers broke down by hour:

Hour one - 4,114,000 viewers
Hour two - 4,146,000 viewers
Hour three - 3,706,000 viewers

The show ended up with a 2.88 cable rating.

WWE had stiff competition with Monday Night Football drawing an average viewing audience of 11,954,000 viewers on ESPN and the MLB NLCS drawing 4,825,000 viewers on TBS. The numbers alone aren't that bad but added together, it's significant competition.

- We noted last week that Vickie Guerrero passed her college entrance exams and planned to pursue a degree in medical administration. The degree is for 18 months and she starts school on October 28, 2013.

- The official theme song for WWE Hell in a Cell 2013 is "Out of Time" by Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington.

- AJ Lee will work this week's Smackdown taping, so she's clearly 100% from her concussion after being medically cleared on Monday afternoon.

- Speaking of this week's Smackdown, former WNW co-owner Ryan Gray is in attendance but he's one of the few. To say the attendance is sparse at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO would be understating it. I'll post some photos shortly. Our live coverage is currently ongoing in the live center.

- After this week's WWE Smackdown taping ended, Daniel Bryan beat Randy Orton in the dark match main event. Bryan played to the crowd to send them home happy.

The big story coming out of the taping was quite simply the fact that no one was there. The taping was very poorly attended, just days after the Miami Heat filled the Sprint Center [in Kansas City, MO] to capacity for an NBA preseason game.

Below are some more photos that Ryan Gray snapped and sent to me:

WWE production moved fans throughout the taping in order to try and make the arena appear more full. Ryan informed me that even in the main event that WWE was moving audience members so they could go wider with their camera shots.

- John Cena is currently not scheduled for any WWE shows prior to Hell in a Cell on Sunday, October 27, 2013. The company is heavily promoting his return with the video package that aired on this week's Monday Night Raw, as it will air on this week's episode of WWE Main Event andSmackdown. Cena is advertised for Raw the night after Hell in a Cell on October 28, 2013 in Orlando, Florida. Based on the attendance at WWE shows last weekend and television tapings this week, the company will be very happy to get him back.

- Wade Barrett has been back in England over the course of the last month. There's been a delay as he's in the process of obtaining a new Visa. The Lancashire Evening Post caught up with Barrett in a new Q&A posted at this link.

- WWE posted a Hell in a Cell All-Access Pass video at this link.

- WWE begins a tour of Mexico on Wednesday with a show from Plaza De Toros Santa Maria in Querétaro. Click here for official event information. If you're attend, please send a live report.

- Dot com has a new interview online with Rey Mysterio ahead of WWE's tour of Mexico. In it, he talks about the injury that has kept him out of the ring. His problem is with the ACL in his left knee that he first tore in 1997. His last surgery was in 2011 and he returned too soon by working SummerSlam 2012 through January of this year.

Rather than undergoing another surgery, Mysterio has been doing stem cell treatment under Dr. James Andrews. Basically, they extract blood from the bone marrow and inject it with two other ingredients directly into his left knee joint. The goal is to regrow knee cartilage on his own.

Mysterio, who is advertised to appear on WWE's shows in Mexico, is hoping to return to the ring by Thanksgiving or Christmas, although he wouldn't rule out getting involved on the Mexican loop. He said he hasn't thought about retirement and it's not something that is going to happen within the next two or three years.

Click here to read the dot com interview in its entirety.

- Jim Ross was asked on his website if he thought one way to "salvage" Ryback's career would be to put him in a tag team. Here's what JR wrote in response, "Might work. Hard to say. Ryback is green. He should get much better in time." Not to beleaguer the point but this is the basis of my argument against Ryback. He's just green.

- WWE posted a new kayfabe Triple H interview conducted by Michael Cole on dot com on Wednesday. In-character, Hunter chastised Cole for reporting last week that he might have to have his jaw wired shut and told him to do his homework. He said he would deal with Paul Wight, the man formerly known as The Big Show, on Raw next week. He'll also deal with the Rhodes family then. The interview ended with Triple H getting in Cole's face. Click here to watch the interview in its entirety.

- The Temple News has a new Q&A online with Damien Sandow. Click here to read it.

- Wade Barrett is on WWE's current tour of Mexico and worked Wednesday's live event in Querétaro. Barrett went over in a match against Zack Ryder.

- Rey Mysterio appeared on the show and did have some physical involvement, saving Sin Cara from an Alberto Del Rio beat down. However, Mysterio did not work a match and isn't expected back in the ring until later next month or December.

- WWE will run Thursday night from the VFG Arena in Guadalajara, Mexico at 8:30 PM. Click here for local event information and if you attend, please submit a live report.

- WWE's Scott Sanford, who also works for WPIX in New York, tried to make Grumpy Cat smile on the air earlier this week. You can watch the funny video at this link.

- Rey Mysterio is helping with WWE's "Rise Above Cancer" campaign with Susan G. Komen. Mysterio met with breast cancer survivors at UNEME Cancer Center in Queretaro, Mexico on Wednesday. You can view a photo below:

- Trish Stratus, who recently gave birth to her son Maximus, is featured in the latest issue of Parents Canada. You can view her on the cover and read a Q&A here on her official website.

- Olympic wrestling coach James Johnson was at the WWE Performance Center on Monday. Johnson noted on Twitter that he met a lot of great NCAA wrestlers and future superstars of WWE. He said he had an "awesome day."

- The latest episode of Outside the Ring features CM Punk playing in Kerry Wood's wiffle ball game for charity. You can watch it at this link.
- Antonio Cesaro answers your question in this week's episode of WWE Inbox. Click here to watch.
- Jim Ross checks in with a new blog entry on his official website where he gives his thoughts on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw and discusses seeing Shane McMahon in New York City. Click here to read it.

- WWE is taking a hardline stance with new developmental talent, adding into contracts they will not tolerate inappropriate photos or videos on social media. Prior to signing, talent have to agree that no such content exists.

- Nikki Bella and John Cena are scheduled to appear at Comic Con in Austin, Texas over the weekend over November 22-24. The promotional poster for the appearance is online at this link.

- WWE is now selling their "WWE Superstars 2014 Poster Calendar" here on It's of note that the pay-per-view dates for each month are highlighted on the calendar. While the preview text is too small to read the specific event names, the dates highlighted are as follows:

January 26, 2014
February 23, 2014
April 6, 2014
May 4, 2014
June 1, 2014
June 29, 2014
July 20, 2014
August 17, 2014
September 21, 2014
October 26, 2014
November 23, 2014
December 14, 2014

- Brock Lesnar attended Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall's "State of the Province" address at Evraz Place in Regina on Thursday. The Star Phoenix has an article featuring quotes from Lesnar, where he said he would like to move there. Click here for the article.

- Rey Mysterio is back and apparently medically cleared to the return to the ring. After making an appearance at Wednesday night's WWE live event in Querétaro where he delivered the 619 to Alberto Del Rio, he made his in-ring return Thursday night in Guadalajara. Mysterio teamed with Sin Cara to face Del Rio and Wade Barrett. Mysterio and Cara went over in the bout. You can view a photo of the tag teams at this link. Video of Mysterio's return on Wednesday night has surfaced here on YouTube.

- This week's episode of The JBL & Cole Show is subtitled "Los Matadores and Tensai on a Wrecking Ball," and is online now at this link.

- Here are video highlights from this week's episode of WWE Superstars - Kofi Kingston vs. Damien Sandow | Dolph Ziggler vs. Big E Langston

- Daniel Bryan has been officially announced as a guest at the Nashville Comic Con this weekend. Click here for more information.

- We're told Jesse White, the son of Leon "Vader" White who had been working as Jake Carter, was released from WWE developmental for a couple of reasons. A lot of the developmental workers are expected to come up with their own character ideas and pitch them to creative. The writers didn't like any of his ideas and that put him on the bubble. However, what ultimately sealed his fate was a dark match he worked against Tensai at the September 12, 2013 WWE NXT tapings (report). We're told the office thought the match was awful. Between White not having any creative ideas for himself that the writers liked and the bad match with Tensai, the decision was made to cut him loose. White was actually released just days after the match.

- WWE has put out an internal edict to sign at least 30 more guys over the course of the next two months. We're told the company is setting up tryouts in November and December in hopes of reaching their target. They want to get the WWE Performance Center closer to capacity and Triple H has put the word out to focus particularly on finding bigger guys in the upcoming camps. With WWE Network's launch still not settled and the cruiserweight show in limbo, he feels they have enough smaller guys for now and it's time to find some bigger guys.

- An apparent babyface turn began with Big E Langston on this week's episode of WWE Smackdown that was taped this past Tuesday night in Kansas City. Following a singles match against CM Punk, in which Langston went under, he helped Punk fend off Ryback and Curtis Axel.

How WWE handles the angle will be interesting as Langston was actually in the running to get the role that is currently being played by Ryback. We broke the story here on Premium that Ryback, Langston or a possible developmental call-up were discussed for the role as the next "Paul Heyman Guy." WWE ended up going with Ryback at WWE Night of Champions back in September.

Another interesting note in regards to Big E Langston is the amount of backstage support he has garnered. Not only has Triple H had to remind Vince McMahon to take it slow with him, John Cena is one of his biggest supporters. As we reported here on Premium in early May, at one point Cena went out of his way to train with Langston on the road and made him a bit of a personal project.

Between Vince McMahon and John Cena, Langston has more support than any new guy on the roster.

TNA News

- Taryn Terrell announced on Twitter over the weekend she's having a girl. We heard quite some time ago that she was pregnant but chose to wait until it came from her rather than it being us that delivered the news. Below is a photo that accompanied her gender announcement:

- is reporting that James Storm is traveling to Los Angeles next week to pitch a reality series focused on a bar he wants to open near Nashville. Apparently this is something Storm wants to pursue in addition to his wrestling career.

- Click here to view a photo of Chavo Guerrero and ZZ Top.

- TNA Wrestling posted the following videos on their official YouTube channel:

Before The Bell: Bound For Glory 2013

Road Trip To Bound For Glory with Eric Young and Joseph Park - Episode 1

Road Trip To Bound For Glory with Eric Young and Joseph Park - Episode 2

- TNA Wrestling still lists Hulk Hogan amongst the superstars expected to appear at Sunday's Bound for Glory pay-per-view. Below is an excerpt from the official pay-per-view preview:

TNA Wrestling Superstars including inaugural TNA Hall of Famer “The Icon” STING, “The Immortal” HULK HOGAN, BULLY RAY, “The Charismatic Enigma” JEFF HARDY, Olympic gold medalist KURT ANGLE, “The Phenomenal” AJ STYLES, BOBBY ROODE, AUSTIN ARIES and “The Cowboy” JAMES STORM, are among those expected to appear at BOUND FOR GLORY, as well as standout competitors from the X-DIVISION, plus the lovely and lethal KNOCKOUTS.

While some are speculating this means Hogan has re-signed with TNA, we simply cannot confirm that as of this writing. If Hogan does it appear, it will mean he has agreed to a contract extension. If he does not, it means a deal hasn't been signed.

Regardless, we'll have exclusive live play-by-play coverage of TNA Bound for Glory on Sunday night beginning at 7 PM EDT here at

- We're being told that Hulk Hogan is still a free agent as of press time. Hogan was trying to leverage WWE against TNA Wrestling in hopes of landing a better deal, following TNA's decision to decline the option on his contract. Triple H and Vince McMahon see Hogan as a face they can make a lot of money off of in terms of merchandise and licensing. Dixie Carter is not believed to have taken the WWE interest seriously until she realized the two parties were actually trying to work out a deal. Hogan is scheduled to meet with Dixie Carter some time this week, while Triple H wants an answer as to whether or not he wants to return to WWE sooner than later. As we reported with Hogan's inclusion in WWE 2K14, him agreeing to be in the game was a precursor to this and he's trying to make the deal that benefits him the most.

- For those of you that like gossip, here's a dose. Magnus announced via Twitter that he and Mickie James are no longer an item. We wouldn't mentioned it unless he did, so below is the Tweet:

- DirecTV has a new Q&A online with Austin Aries (@AustinAries) to promote the Ultimate X Match at Sunday's Bound for Glory pay-per-view. Click here to read it.

- Below is the updated lineup for TNA Bound for Glory:

TNA Championship Match
- Bully Ray © vs. AJ Styles

Singles Match
- Bobby Roode vs. Kurt Angle

Singles Match
- Sting vs. Magnus

Ultimate X Match for the TNA X Division Championship
- Manik © vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Chris Sabin vs. Samoa Joe vs. Austin Aries

TNA Knockouts Championship Match
- ODB © vs. Gail Kim vs. Brooke

TNA Tag Team Championship Match
- James Storm & Gunner vs. Winner of Pre-Show Gauntlet

Pre-Show Gauntlet Tag Team Match
- Christopher Daniels & Kazarian vs. Eric Young & Joseph Park vs. Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez vs. The Bro-Mans

TNA Bound for Glory will take place Sunday, October 20, 2013 from the Viejas Arena in San Diego, California. We'll have exclusive live play-by-play coverage here at

- AJ Styles was a guest on "Busted Open" with Dave Lagreca and Mike Riker and he said some things that caught our attention. The number one contender said TNA Wrestling needs someone in charge that knows what to do with it once they see what's going together well. He also said that if Hulk Hogan re-signs, the company has to know what to do with him. If he scratches their back, they'll scratch his.

- Angelina Pivarnick from MTV's "Jersey Shore" recently spoke about her time in TNA Wrestling from a few years back in a new media interview. She claimed she had to call Dixie Carter herself to get paid and that she received training from Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle and Robbie E. You can listen to her comments in their entirety at this link.

- TNA Wrestling posted full details on Saturday night's Hall of Fame Banquethere on their official website. In it, they confirm a three course meal is included and per the hotel's policy, no shorts or flip flops. Collared shirts for men are preferred.

- Alex Barie sent word that TNA is no longer advertising Hulk Hogan to appear at Bound for Glory on their official website. The rumors are going to keep going until Hogan shows up on television somewhere. While there were apparently reports (outside of WNW) indicating that a new Hogan/TNA contract was imminent, we confirmed here on Premium that he is still a free agent. He was expected to meet with Dixie Carter this week although I cannot confirm (or deny) that meaning took place.

- Christopher Daniels has been doing widespread media ahead of Sunday's Bound for Glory pay-per-view. Jim Varsallone has an excellent article online over The Miami Herald website with quotes from Daniels. Click here to read it.

- TNA Wrestling's television partner in the United Kingdom, Challenge, has a new Q&A online with Magnus. Click here to read it.

- Kurt Angle did a Bound for Glory promotional interview at this link. In it, he discussed his experience in rehab and really put over Dixie Carter for her support. Some may find it interesting that Angle entered on WWE's dime as he took advantage of their rehabilitation program. He spoke about wanting to work for UFC but not being unable to do so now at his age. Angle said he plans to do more acting and his favorite WWE moment was working Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 21.

- AJ Styles and Magnus are featured in a new Impact Podcast to preview Bound for Glory. Click here to listen now.

- The go-home to Bound for Glory episode of Impact Wrestling will air Thursday night on Spike TV. The company is advertising the contract signing between Bully Ray and AJ Styles and Samoa Joe vs. Chris Sabin. Click here for the official preview. Click here for complete taping results.

- Jeremy Borash won the "fan of the night" at Wednesday night's Nashville Predators game. You can watch the hilarious video at this link.

- TNA Wrestling canceled the November 1, 2013 live event in Battle Creek, Michigan. They're still scheduled to run the following night in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. The ultra thin touring schedule can be viewed at this link.

- Make sure you join us tonight at 8:30 PM EDT for our "Open Thread" Impact Watch Party featuring streaming results and your discussion. We'll also have exclusive live play-by-play coverage of Bound for Glory on Sunday.

- TNA Wrestling updated their official live events section on their website. Richard Gray noted earlier that the company canceled their November 1st Battle Creek, Michigan live event show. The company also erased all of the information regarding their Impact Wrestling taping in Chattanooga, Tennessee at the McKenzie Arena on December 5th. The company now has a huge gap between November 21st to December 27th with no live event shows or any Impact Wrestling tapings. It is unknown whether the company will reschedule the December 5th taping of Impact Wrestling in a different city or a new arena. It is worth noting that the McKenzie Arena holds about 10,000 people.

- Kurt Angle appeared on "Busted Open" with Dave Lagreca and Dough Mortman where he promoted Bound for Glory and discussed his latest stint in rehab. Angle admitted from the outside that things "looked a little scary" regarding TNA but he was glad to see everyone still working at a high level when he got to TVs last week. Angle stressed the need for unity and the importance of wrestlers and writers being on the same page. He said he wants TNA to be more organized like the way Vince McMahon runs the show. In the same interview, Angle said he doesn't feel he was pressured into returning to TNA a month after completing this stage of his rehab program. He said he found out last week that he was going to face Bobby Roode at the pay-per-view and feels they're going to have an amazing match.

- The Daily Star ran an article featuring quotes from Chavo Guerrero where he was asked what his late uncle Eddie Guerrero would think of the business today. Below is an excerpt:

“I don’t think he’d like it too much the way it is now, because it is hard for a young wrestler to get that seasoned experience.

“You can disguise it all you want with explosions and pyro and entrances, but when it comes down to it in the ring, it’s you and that other person. That’s it.

“People don’t get the chance to travel these days and learn how to wrestle, how to perfect this art.”

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- Austin Aries spoke to Scott Fishman of the Miami Herald about a number of topics to promote Sunday's Bound for Glory pay-per-view. Click here to read it.

- Alex Barie reported earlier here at that TNA has canceled the December 5, 2013 Impact Wrestling taping in Chattanooga, Tennessee. There appears to be something going on with the November 21, 2013 taping from the Baltimore Arena in Maryland. There is no longer a link to purchase tickets here on Ticketmaster, however, the event is still listed on the official schedule.

- Newsday's Alfonso Castillo talks to Austin Aries about Bound for Glory at this link.

- TNA held a press conference in San Diego on Thursday to promote Bound for Glory. TNA Champion Bully Ray, Dixie Carter and AJ Styles appeared alongside Mayor Todd Gloria. You can view a photo below:

- Moments after Impact Wrestling ended this week, TNA President Dixie Carter took to Twitter. She announced that Bully Ray vs. AJ Styles for the TNA World Title will now be a No Disqualification match! Below is her tweet:

Make sure you join us for live coverage of Bound for Glory this Sunday right here on starting at 7PM EDT!

- TNA Wrestling has released a t-shirt for the Dixie Carter heel character that reads "Dixie Land" on the front of it. You can check out the shirt at this link.

- has an in-character interview online with AJ Styles to promote his TNA Championship match at Bound for Glory on Sunday. You can read it at this link.

- With TNAcanceling the December 5th Impact Wrestling taping in Chattanooga, Tennessee and possibly the November 21st taping in Baltimore, there is already a lot of speculation the company is in the process of returning to a permanent taping location. I was made aware of a "new" report about TNA reaching out to Universal Studios about possibly returning to Soundstage 21, formerly known as the Impact Zone. This isn't a new development. If you read WNW Premium then you know we reported here on September 13, 2013 that TNA had tested the waters about returning to the Impact Zone. At the time, we believed it was for a potential special show or taping, however, it was later learned the company was having serious discussions about pulling Impact off the road. The reports that TNA is just now reaching out to Universal are at the very least a month old.

- John Morrison brought up TNA Wrestling's interest in him in a recent media interview. This is a story we've visited before and nothing came out of it. There have been talks between Morrison and TNA and Morrison and WWE but no deal has been reached with either organization. That's not to say it won't happen, it's just to reiterate it hasn't happened yet.

- ROH Wrestling announced on Friday here on their official website that Jessy Sorensen is coming to the company. According to the release, Sorensen will face Tomasso Ciampa at Glory by Honor on October 26th in Chicago, Illinois.

- Ethan Carter III is coming to TNA Bound for Glory this Sunday. You can watch the vignette at this link.

- Austin Aries has been on a limitless media tour leading up to Bound for Glory as we have two more articles to mention. He spoke at this link with Gordon Holmes and at this link with One thing that caught my attention was the following from Aries' interview with Holmes:

Holmes: TNA seems to be undergoing somewhat of a shift lately with some big names leaving the company and other rumored problems. As a performer is it hard to block that out?

Aries: A lot of reports about problems with the company are from journalists who are trying to get clicks on their website. It seems like there’s a certain core of pundits who like to take any news with TNA and make it negative. The fact is, the things going on in TNA, whether you’re talking about talents that are coming and going, that’s all part of a growing business.

Holmes: So everything is business as usual?

Aries: I think there’s almost a certain group of people who root for the company to go out of business just so they can say, “I told you so.” Unfortunately for those people, I think TNA is going to be here for a long time to come

Richard Reacts: A lot of this falls right along with what I discussed in Friday's installment of Ask WNW. There is a certain segment [of fans and pundits] that are negative no matter what and I absolutely see what Aries is saying when he points towards a "certain group of people who root for the company to go out of business." However, it would be naive to believe that it's just "business as usual."

I for one want TNA to succeed. I pushed back for as long as I could push back on the "TNA financial problems" because honestly, none of us really know because we don't have access to the financials. However, there comes a point where we also have to come to the realization that it's more than an agenda or a segment of TNA naysayers. Cutting workers with no storyline or direction is one thing but canceling live events and television tapings leading into the company's biggest show of the year, is another. There are problems and I for one am rooting for a turnaround.

- While I don't think we've been following this episode-by-episode, you can watch episode 8 of "Road Trip to Bound for Glory" with Eric Young and Joseph Park at this link.

- This week's episode of Impact Wrestling, the go-home to Bound for Glory, did an average viewing audience of 1,110,000 viewers on Spike TV. While up from last week's dreadful audience of only 1,084,000 viewers, TNA was unable to find any momentum heading into their biggest pay-per-view of the year. The show ended up with a 0.84 cable rating. You can see how the competition on cable stacked up at this link.


Do you think that Daniel Bryan is established as a permanent main eventer like John Cena or CM Punk?

As we've seen with Randy Orton, WWE has the ability to downgrade a main event talent regardless of who it is. Orton, a main event talent with a main event contract, spent a year in the mid-card due to disciplinary reasons. So I think it's important to remember that regardless of how established that a name is, WWE has the ability to pull the plug if they so choose. However, I don't see how Bryan regresses back to the mid-card unless WWE just doesn't see him as a viable main event talent. We talk a lot about bad booking and creative inhibiting guys from getting over but have you looked at what Daniel Bryan has overcome? The Miz as his NXT pro, a firing, an 18-second Wrestlemania loss and a gimmick that was expected to go no further than comedic relief. WWE has tried to hold Bryan back but every time he's risen right back to the top. It's going to be difficult to hold him down now.

We only ask questions about wrestling. But we'd like to know more about you. What is your wrestling knowledge background and what are your information sources and connections?

I began covering professional wrestling as a 14-year-old while in the 9th grade. I wanted to start a sports website but I figured that I would have a difficult time competing with the mainstream outlets. One of my friends owned and operated a professional wrestling website, located at, so I decided to give it a shot. My first pro wrestling website started as and eventually went to My first major traffic break through was when my brother Ryan and I launched in January 2000. This is when we saw a major influx of traffic and continued to own and operate the site through the Fall of 2001. In 2001, Ryan and I sold the website and took a year off to be normal high school kids (we are identical twins, by the way). The following year, we got bit by the bug to start a new pro wrestling website and launched In February 2003, we had a button exchange with I noticed the button was a dead image so I went to the site to find out it was for sale. Our company placed a bid and acquired the domain name. From February 2003 to April 2007, Ryan and I operated WNW as a side project after eventually merging it with We penned occasional blogs and participated in the forums but we were college students and not full-time wrestling journalists. In May 2007 after graduating from college, Ryan and I decided to take the website on as a career. We implemented some major changes that have grown to what you see today, which includes 100% exclusive content and the backstage insider information that so many of you enjoy. Ryan left the website in July 2011 to pursue another career. As for my connections, I have been very fortunate to establish a team of researchers and contacts that work hours upon hours each week to provide us with insider information. These contacts go unnamed but their information is used through me all over the website. I will also mention that it's because of your support that I am able to do what I do and there will never be words to express how thankful I am for that.

One of the misconceptions that I think a lot of workers or people in the business have about me or this website is that I just kind of "fell into this." Yes, I have never bumped in the ring but what I do for a living was not accomplished by accident. I have worked very hard to establish my career and earn my reputation. Those who know me know that I get very defensive when my integrity or reputation is challenged as I have worked countless hours to get where I am today. The only way to be successful in this business is if you eat, sleep and breathe it. It's the case for the Superstars and Divas, just as it is for people like me that cover it.

With John Cena coming back to face Alberto Del Rio, is that sign that WWE wants the restore the credibility to the World Heavyweight Championship?

John Cena challenging for and possibly winning the World Heavyweight Championship is good for the prestige of the title, make no mistake about it. However, the fact of the matter is WWE needed a program for Alberto Del Rio and a place to highlight the return of Cena. With the ongoing program between Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton, that couldn't be for the WWE title. Given the fact that CM Punk is working as a babyface in a program with Paul Heyman, they couldn't use him either. The company decided a Cena vs. Del Rio was the best program for all parties involved. Yes, it helps the World title but this was a case of finding the best situation for John Cena right now.

Antonio Cesaro is becoming more and more impressive each time he wrestles and what he did to The Great Khali at Battleground (and on Raw the next night) was a tremendous feet of strength, with that in mind I feel he should have been pushed to the World Heavyweight Championship by now. Is there any reason why he hasn't been given that opportunity?

I wish I could explain why very talented workers are held in the mid-card, while there are other workers that get opportunity after opportunity. It all comes down to who Vince McMahon thinks will draw money and at least right now, Antonio Cesaro one of those guys. I feel Cesaro has all of the tools to be as successful as Daniel Bryan or CM Punk and many of us said this for years prior to the emergence of Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. This has to do with Vince McMahon and whether or not he believes in a talent.

Do you think its time for Christian to retire since he has sustained so many injuries this past year?

Christian has been plagued by injuries but injuries are part of this business. Christian should retire on his own terms and as long as he still wants to work and has the medical clearance to do so, he should continue. He is still capable of working at a very high level but has hit a rough patch. He's too talented of a worker for WWE (or anyone else for that matter) just to give up on when the going gets tough.

What did you think of the WWE Tag Team Championship matches on this week's Monday Night Raw? To me, they delivered a pay-per-view quality match.

The match was outstanding and one of the best TV matches this year. Almost immediately I heard people praising the fact the babyfaces actually got some leverage against the Corporation on Monday Night Raw. I understand that Cody Rhodes and Goldust went over at WWE Battleground but this was for the titles in the main event. Let's also give credit where credit is due. First, Goldust still has it. Here's a guy that knows how to play his character as good as anyone and he can still work at a high level if given the opportunity. Cody Rhodes' stock is finally on the rise again after years of mediocrity with no direction. Many of us have known Rhodes' potential and it's awesome to see him get the opportunity. Let's also not forget the boys in black. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns (as well as Dean Ambrose) answered the call again Monday night. Reigns was supposed to be a green talent that required seasoning but I don't see that. They've worked extremely hard and have been able to step up every time they're called upon. There is no way that any WWE fan could come away from this match not optimistic about the future of the company's talent.

Any word on what kind of contract Goldust has?

Goldust is back under a WWE Performer's Contract and as a result, he's had to cancel scheduled independent dates. One thing WWE has really changed their stance on over the course of the last 5 years is how they bring on talent. Goldust is someone that was believed to be back temporarily but WWE ended up signing him for a continued angle. As I just mentioned, he has plenty to offer and plays his character better than anyone. He's pushed for years for the opportunity to work with Cody and we're finally seeing it.

After seeing the John Cena package on this week's Monday Night Raw, I started wondering where you would rank John Cena's "Legacy" in history. I know there have been better wrestlers. But how about just the name John Cena?

Like it or not, John Cena ranks right on up there with Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Steve Austin, The Rock and Triple H. He's this generation's equivalent and there is no one else even close. No, he's not known for his technical wrestling but technical wrestling is arguably the least important when it comes to major success in the mainstream. I too am tired of over-the-top corny PG Cena but there is no doubting his impact on the business or his work ethic. While I'm not the biggest fan of the Cena character, he will go down as one of the greatest of all-time. I realize that statement puts me in the crosshairs but there is no questioning Cena's ability to draw.

Isn't it a risk announcing John Cena to be medically cleared by Hell in a Cell if he isn't cleared now and if he is cleared now why don't they bring him back to television?

It's my understanding that John Cena is medically cleared to compete and has been taking bumps. WWE wants to build to his return, which is the reason for a video package and not a live appearance on Raw. It's a promotional method that WWE hopes will lead to an influx of buys at the pay-per-view in a couple of weeks.

Do you honestly think WWE would lose all of their endorsements if they broke away from their commitment to PG programming?

As much as I try to explain WWE PG, I feel some of you still do not understand, so let me try again. WWE's commitment to PG is due to a few things. The first thing is the company took a PR beating with what happened with Chris Benoit and that affected everyone from advertisers to stockholders. Second, the US economy was on the brink of collapse when Vince McMahon decided to revamp their programming in attempt to attract higher-tier advertisers because he knew they were the companies that would not only withstand a bad economy but could actually afford to spend money in a weak economy. And finally, WWE understands the value of marketing to the entire family. They have no competition so they're going to get the hardcore pro wrestling fans - and yes, that includes you and me. With that demographic wrapped up, they were looking for ways to expand their demographic to the entire household. Take a look what they are doing with Total Divas and the ability to market towards E's audience.

When the transition was first made, the company went a little far, which Vince himself admitted (I heard him say it). However, the company now has the ability to produce programming outside of the PG parameters. For example, Total Divas is rated TV-14 but their core programming continues to carry the PG banner. So to wrap this up, WWE PG is a brilliant lesson in adapting to the times, while restoring public image and attracting higher tier advertisers. It has worked for the company and I don't think can be blamed for the decline in viewership. While I can't tell you why people watch (or don't watch), a lot of it has to do with the quality of programming. The quality is not the same thing as the rating. There were plenty of bad angles during the Attitude Era, WWE just had mega stars like The Rock and Steve Austin that could offset it. Now, they're thinner at the top and when a guy like Cena goes down, the impact is significant.

Did Raw's viewership this past Monday increase due to the announcement that John Cena is returning at Hell in a Cell?

As I just mentioned, I am unable to tell you why people watch or don't watch. However, there are things that can be pointed to that move the needle. John Cena is a guy that can move the needle on his own. His name is very valuable and WWE has the research (through ratings trends) and merchandise sales to back it up. It's also important to look at the quality of programming and point to things that could cause people to tune in. Let's also not forget that Shawn Michaels made a surprise return last week and was announced for this week's show. He's another guy that can move the needle on his own. It is fair to say the numbers increased based on some of the things that happened the week prior and WWE's promotion of them.

Is WWE blowing off CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman at Hell in a Cell? I have enjoyed it but the work of Ryback and Curtis Axel just isn't doing it for me. Do you see Punk getting involved in the corporation angle?

There was some storyline progression in the CM Punk angle that will air on this week's Smackdown that you can read about in our taping results. There's more to the story but I honestly don't know if they plan on blowing off Punk/Heyman at Hell in a Cell. It's safe to say they're probably going to blowoff Punk vs. Ryback, like they did with Axel at Night of Champions. The way the program has been built is to feud Punk/Heyman by offering up different challengers representing Heyman. However, I feel like you, as entertaining and compelling as the Punk/Heyman program has been, the opposition [in Axel and Ryback] has been weak and underwhelming. The problem is Axel and Ryback haven't been established so they aren't seen as viable threats. In other words, they aren't Brock Lesnar. As for Punk being involved in the Corporation angle, most will agree it would be entertaining but I'm not sure they need to go that route yet.

After watching The Shield in action for the past year, I've been wondering, why not have the Shield (all three of them) challenge the Undertaker's streak at Wrestlemania? I believe they are more than worthy of this match. And if they are put over, it would cement their legacy as one of the greatest factions in history while also not completely tarnishing the streak since it is a handicap match.

I disagree here because I don't see a payoff. If WWE booked Undertaker vs. The Shield at Wrestlemania, it's a lose-lose situation. If Undertaker goes over, you just had a guy that works one match a year job out three of your brightest young stars. If The Shield goes over, they just killed one of the most iconic records of all time and they should have because it would 3-on-1. At this point, the streak needs to remain intact. The only time I have ever lobbied to end it was this year when it was CM Punk as the challenger. My thinking was Punk had the 434-day WWE title reign and they could cement him as a legend in the business by ending the legendary streak. The decision was made to have him put Undertaker over and now it's best just to let the streak end as the streak, regardless of how big it gets.

With Dixie Carter saying on last week's episode of Impact Wrestling that she didn't need Vince, Bischoff, Stephanie or the Jarretts to help her run her company, what was the reaction, if any, in WWE?

If there was a reaction, I didn't hear about it. WWE has been very focused on their own viewership problem and they don't see TNA as viable competition. I doubt many people in WWE even saw it but again, no one mentioned it to me when I compiled my notes from this week's TVs. I would like to take this opportunity to address the heel version of Dixie Carter. I always caution readers they should wait and see how something plays out before judging, however, I also stress that the most successful gimmicks are an extension of the worker's real-life personality.

Dixie is known in real life for being warm, caring and compassionate. Even people deemed as bitter put her over for treating workers more like family than just another cog in the machine. Trying to make her an authoritative on-screen heel is like trying to make Steve Austin a choirboy, it's a clear miscast. I'm not sure what made TNA try this direction but if they're trying to turn Dixie into what WWE is currently doing with Stephanie McMahon, it's the wrong path.

What things do you look for in a match when you deem wrestlers as green?

When we say someone is green we mean they are inexperienced. A worker that's green makes more mistakes, isn't comfortable in the ring and often suffers from "deer in the headlights" syndrome. I could sit here and write about proper ways to evaluate a match but the bottom line is - listen to the crowd. Are they reacting to the action that's happening in the ring? If so, the workers have accomplished their goal. If not, there's a problem. WWE tends to book green workers in successful situations. For example, while preparing for this question, I went back and watched a couple minutes of one of The Great Khali's matches against Undertaker in 2006. At the time, WWE was heavily pushing Khali so they wanted to put him in a position to be successful. Khali's push didn't work out but Undertaker carried the match to the point where I've seen much worse. Just because a worker is green doesn't mean their matches are always horrible but it's imperative they try not to do too much before they are ready. One example I can give you of a worker making this error is Sin Cara. Heralded as one of the best workers in Mexico, he's really struggled to adapt the WWE style. Alberto Del Rio on the hand is a guy that never tries to take it too far and often keeps the focus off of his limitations. As a result, Cara hasn't found any traction and Del Rio has an established spot in the main event.

Where is Kane?

Kane has been off WWE television filming the sequel to "See No Evil," which has now wrapped. He was at the New York Comic-Con last weekend where he talked about the movie. Expect to see him back on WWE television shortly even though he hasn't been added to the official listings over on dot com. He is popping back up on local show information listings.

Is it safe to assume that the mention of Xavier Woods and his petition will lead to his call up to the main roster?

The mention of Xavier Woods in the petition to re-hire Big Show was absolutely intentional and indicative of his spot atop the list of prospective NXT call-ups. JBL made a noticeable gaffe on commentary as he claimed to not know who Woods was while playing his heel character on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw. The problem is JBL was recently made the GM of WWE NXT. Oops!

From the Ask WNW vault…

Originally written in March 2008: As far as the most underrated in-ring worker I would say Shelton Benjamin. He is a career mid-card guy but has better in-ring work than most of the superstars that he is working with. As for someone on the mic I would say Santino Marella. I think that some fans appreciate him but I'm not sure that they understand just how great that he is. Marella is one of the best talkers that I have ever seen. He is such a good talker; he can lose clean and still not look weak. It beats anything that I have ever seen.

There's always so much outcry for more tag teams and for those teams to have longevity. But it seems to me whenever a real good/great team comes around and is impressive, wrestling fans and journalists can't wait until their demise and eventual break up. Why can't Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins go on to become multiple time tag team champs? Why do we need to put an expiration date on their time together?

I haven't been clamoring for the breakup of The Shield; in fact I've pushed the opposite. While the faction is nearing their one year anniversary, they've handled a scaling back and are back again in the limelight. Let's also not forget they were show stealers at WWE Battleground and this week's Monday Night Raw. As for the outcry, there are a couple of things to consider. First, there is a segment of fans that are never going to be pleased. They push for one thing, it happens, and they push for the opposite. This is why sometimes readers perceive me as being "hypocritical" when I push back from the IWC. I am very much a member of the IWC but I am not part of the overly critical fan base. One of the reasons I started this website was I felt there wasn't a journalist out there that gave the business a fair shake. It was clear they were anti-McMahon and anti-big business. There's nothing wrong with being either of those things, it's when a writer loses objectivity that it becomes obnoxious. Second, we have to remember that every character - be it singles, tag team or faction - has a shelf life. It's very important not to overexpose a character or a tag team or a faction past this life because it leads to apathy and eventual outrage. There aren't many tag teams like The Dudley Boys that remained relevant for a decade but as we've seen, even they had a shelf life. If workers are around long enough, they'll eventually to do something different. Yes, I do think there are a group of fans that aren't going to be pleased no matter what but we also have to remember that nothing lasts forever.

Do you think fans will order Bound for Glory to see what happens or will they order because they're simply TNA fans?

TNA is just hoping people order Bound for Glory, regardless of their reasons. I've heard from readers that think the show is too predictable but the fact of the matter is, anything is possible and no plan is concrete until it happens. In my opinion TNA is fighting an uphill battle with the show as they've been dealing with a decline in viewership along with alleged financial issues that seem to have more attention than the pay-per-view itself. The fact TNA is canceling live events and TV tapings headed into their biggest show of the year is worrisome. I want TNA to succeed and am hoping for a turnaround but there are red flags everywhere.

Given the recent success of Total Divas and subsequent expanded attention on the Divas, do you see WWE hiring more experience and technically sound wrestlers to bolster the in-ring work?

I actually see the exact opposite. There is more attention on the Divas with the success of Total Divas but it's not because of the in-ring work. It's because of a show that focuses on drama and romance, things that have nothing to do with what happens once the bell rings. I'm not saying everyone on the show can't work because that's not true, however, as we've seen with women like Eva Marie, WWE's focus is outside of catering to you and I as pro wrestling fans. WWE wants women they can use to cater to E's audience, which is a case of demographic expansion.

What's the reason for all the filler content on WWE Monday Night Raw? I understand the myriad of injuries but when Raw went three hours, I thought we'd see more angles, not less?

WWE has too many hours of television each week. Yes, they're making more money with the extra hours but everyone else is burned out - from the writers to the wrestlers to the fans (watch how viewership plays out throughout the duration of Raw). Sometimes less is less but sometimes less is more and I honestly feel WWE has given their audience too much content. No one was excited about Raw going to a three-hour show; in fact writers were ready to quit when they found out. We've seen the heavy turnaround in terms of a creative head and I absolutely think it's due to the exhaustive workload each week.

From the Ask WNW Vault…

October 2009: CM Punk did not drop the World Heavyweight Championship at WWE Hell in a Cell because of backstage heat. There were plans for The Undertaker to win the belt for the past several weeks. The rumors got started because of Punk's backstage detractors, which only gained steam when he started dating Amy "Lita" Dumas. Punk has his fair share of people that do not like him, but management still views him as one of the untouchables.

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