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Problems At Raw, WWE Trying To Convince Top Star To Stay, This Week's Premium Newsletter

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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, September 20, 2014 to Friday, September 26, 2014 as well as all five Ask WNW segments from the week. Use this newsletter as your own personal tool to catch up on any of the news that you may have missed during the week. Below is a table of contents:

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

Table Of Contents
- WWE News
- TNA News
- Ask WNW

WWE News

- The Hindu Business Line, citing anonymous sources, claims that WWE along with Ten Sports will invest over $100 million in the Indian entertainment market. The publication reported that Ten Sports CEO Rakesh Sethi refused to give out financials but Rukn Kizilbash, WWE's General Manager in India, said they were committed to the market and is making a "good amount of investment."

Funds will reportedly be used to bring in technology to reduce the gap between the TV shows from when they air in the US to the time they air in India. Further, there will reportedly be more live events in India and a WWE line of merchandise for kids and adults.

Click here for coverage by The Hindu Business Line.

While some may find it odd WWE would be looking to make a significant financial investment during deep budget cuts, it is one of their most important international markets. In fact, WWE and Ten Sports announced a new 5 year TV distribution deal last week (a point covered in the aforementioned piece).

- It's Party Time in the latest episode of Smackdown Fallout. Watch now at this link.

- posted a breaking news update on Saturday morning stating that Roman Reigns was rushed to the hospital to undergo emergency surgery for an incarcerated hernia. Below is the statement:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — has learned Roman Reigns has been rushed to a Nashville, Tenn., hospital to undergo emergency surgery for an incarcerated hernia. Reigns had been in Nashville to promote tomorrow's Night of Champions event. His recovery time will be evaluated by the local surgeon and WWE physician Dr. Chris Amann following today's operation. Check back with for updates on Reigns' condition

It has been confirmed that Roman Reigns will not compete tomorrow at Night of Champions, where he was scheduled to face Seth Rollins. Stay tuned to for the latest.

- Sting posted a cryptic tweet on his verified Twitter account Saturday morning stating "It's Showtime. 9.22.14." Here is the tweet embedded below:

There hasn't been any announcement yet regarding what this means, but it may have something to do with WWE 2K15. - Scott Stanford appeared on the WWE Network Saturday afternoon to bring us an update on Roman Reigns. As noted, Reigns was rushed to the hospital Saturday morning in Nashville, where he had emergency surgery for an incarcerated hernia. Stanford spoke with WWE physician Dr. Chris Amann over the phone about Reigns' injury. Amann noted that this injury was not caused by anything he did in the ring. Reigns will be out for approximately 4-6 weeks, but that may go up to 10-12 weeks. He will have to let the tissue fully heal before getting back in the ring. Reigns will not be competing tomorrow at Night of Champions, where he was scheduled to face Seth Rollins. There has been no word yet on if Rollins will be in action. - The biggest story of the weekend is the status of Roman Reigns. WWEannounced on Saturday afternoon that Reigns was rushed to a Nashville, TN hospital where he underwent emergency surgery for an incarcerated hernia. He's off Sunday's Night of Champions card and will miss "closer to 6 weeks." Reigns was hospitalized Saturday night but was expected to be released on Sunday if all went well. Dot com updated their coverage with some quotes from WWE physician Dr. Chris Amann:

"I was in contact with both Roman and the surgeon who performed the operation in Nashville [Saturday]. Roman had developed acute abdominal pain in his hotel room [Friday] night after his match," Dr. Amann told "This wasn't related to a specific injury that occurred in the ring. Roman has had a pre-existing hernia for some time, which unfortunately had become acutely painful, which led to him going to the emergency room in Nashville. He was found to have a large hernia that was unable to be reduced, which means pushed back into the abdominal cavity. As a result, it was necessary to perform an emergent operation to open up the hernia sac and try and push it back into the abdominal cavity." "At the time of the surgery, surgeons found a loop of small intestine was caught in the hernia sac, which would account for the pain and discomfort that Roman was having earlier in the evening," Dr. Amann explained. "The surgeons released the hernia sac so the intestine could be pushed back into the abdominal cavity. Once they were satisfied blood supply had returned to the intestine after releasing the hernia, they went ahead and completed the procedure. A mesh was placed over where the hernia had occurred to prevent future occurrences."

As for Reigns' return to the ring, here's what Amann said:

"Roman has been transferred to the recovery room and is doing quite well. The plan is to keep him overnight, give him IV antibiotics to prevent infection and make sure the intestinal function returns to normal before discharging him from the hospital. If everything goes well, that should be [Sunday]," Dr. Amann said. "Most of the time, the recovery time for something like this in terms of returning to physical activity is between four and six weeks. This was a pretty significant hernia, so it will probably be closer to six weeks."

How Reigns' hernia differs from a sports hernia, according to Chris Amann:

"This is a completely different type of hernia than sports hernia," Dr. Amann said. "A sports hernia usually refers to a tear in the lower abdominal wall that attaches to the ligaments. That type of tear typically occurs from repeated activity or sports. Roman had what’s called an inguinal hernia. It can sometimes come from sports, but sometimes people are born with these. It is treated differently than a sports hernia."

Click here for coverage by Richard Reacts: I have a sneaky suspicion there were never plans to do Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins at Night of Champions. I talked about this in the latest WNW Premium Mailbag, explaining it might have been why WWE gave the match away on last week's episode of Monday Night Raw. I also found it interesting that Amann said that Reigns "developed acute abdominal pain in his hotel room [Friday] night after his match." Reigns didn't work Friday in Charleston, WV but instead, his match against Rusev that was taped on Tuesday aired on Smackdown. - Triple H was at Mr. Olympia 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada over the weekend. Former WWE Diva Kaitlyn was there with her husband and Tweeted a photo with him. You can view it below: Click here to load Photos/Tweets (if not loaded)

- WWE advertised Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose for their Battleground pay-per-view in July with no intention of actually doing the match. The bout was delayed until SummerSlam and later resulted in what was advertised as Rollins vs. Roman Reigns for Night of Champions (after Ambrose was written off to film the WWE Studios production Lockdown).

Reigns was officially pulled from Night of Champions on Saturday after WWE reported he underwent emergency surgery for a hernia in Nashville, TN.

WWE went kayfabe-heavy in a recent update on the health of Reigns, however, I questioned whether or not there was ever an actual plan to do Reigns vs. Rollins at the pay-per-view. In fact, it's something we discussed in detail in Friday's Premium Mailbag, while talking about WWE "giving the match away for free" on Monday Night Raw.

One thing to consider about pay-per-views going forward is how WWE is booking them differently with the evolution of WWE Network and all shows being included at $9.99/month. As one observer put it, they're booking pay-per-views like TV now and the philosophy of loading up shows to justify their hefty price tag is no longer the case.

I cannot confirm a bait and switch in regards to Reigns vs. Rollins, however, Dean Ambrose is expected to return to television shortly. He is advertised for WWE Raw in Memphis, TN on Monday night. Speculation suggests his inclusion in the program but that cannot be confirmed either.

- We noted last week the final issue of WWE Magazine -- the October 2014 issue -- is now available. I received mine on Saturday with a notice that it was ceasing publication. Subscribers were given two options - 1) do nothing and receive a refund for any unfilled issues or 2) receive a free 30-day pass to WWE Network.

Considering I just renewed my WWE Network subscription, I guess I'll do nothing and wait for my check to arrive some time in November. You can view the final issue and the notice in the photo below:

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

It's sad to see WWE Magazine cease production. I always felt WWE did an exceptional job with the publication and it's something I've read since my childhood. However, I was seriously considering canceling my subscription just because I didn't have time to read it. There's so much content available, the magazine was just the old way of doing business. Still, I feel bad for all of the people that lost their jobs because the publication was nixed. - WWE ran two "breaking news alerts" on WWE Network with updates on Roman Reigns. In the first update, covered by CJ Blaze here at, Dr. Chris Amann provided an update. You can watch that one at this link. - In a second update, the same footage of Scott Stanford is used except Reigns himself provides an update. You can watch that update at this link. Richard Reacts: The concept is neat and something we've expected for quite some time. It'll take some getting used to because it's hard to take updates from WWE seriously -- given the nature of the business -- but I thought these were cool. - A significant health update on Christian was made available during the WWE Night of Champions Kickoff. It was stated by Renee Young and again by Michael Cole that Christian had to put his career on hold due to medical injuries and they hoped to have him back one day. Injuries have plagued Christian in the latter part of his career as he suffered a concussion on the March 24, 2014 episode of Monday Night Raw, just under 7 months after suffering a concussion on the August 26, 2013 episode of Raw. Prior to that, he’d missed considerable amount of time due to a legitimate shoulder injury that sidelined him for nearly a year. - It was also stated on the Night of Champions Kickoff that Roman Reigns could be out a number of months to rehabilitate after undergoing emergency surgery on Saturday to repair an incarcerated hernia. Speaking of Reigns' surgery, it was performed by Dr. Haile M Mezghebe. More information on him is available at this link. - Stardust and Goldust pinned The Usos to win the WWE Tag Team Championships in the opening match at WWE Night of Champions. This marks Cody Rhodes and Goldust's second reign as partners. The Usos were the fifth longest-reigning WWE Tag Team Championships and won the titles back in March when they beat the New Age Outlaws. - Bobby Eaton has been hospitalized after suffering what is believed to have been a heart attack at Pro Wrestling Phoenix's show at the National Guard Armory in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Saturday. According to an official statement put out by Brian Thompson, who was with Eaton, Bobby started having "seizure-like jolts" and they rushed him to the hospital via ambulance. While they initially thought it was just a problem with his blood sugar, it's now believed he had a heart attack. However, Eaton's defibrillator and pacemaker were credited for keeping him from going into full cardiac arrest. Below is the official statement from Thompson's Facebook:

Official Statement on Bobby Eaton: Obviously the last 24 hours have been a little chaotic. I wanted to release this statement on behalf of Bobby in regard to his current condition. Yesterday, Bobby and I were booked for Pro Wrestling Phoenix (PWP). The promotion ran its regular monthly show at the Council Bluffs, Iowa National Guard Armory. This is just minutes from Omaha, Nebraska. We arrived to the venue around 2:15 p.m. for a scheduled 3 p.m. training seminar with some of the PWP crew and aspiring future wrestlers who are still in their training phases. A very respectable group of individuals attended and had a 2-hour time frame to learn a few things from Bobby. On our 6-hour trip there, Bobby had felt fatigued and most signs indicated that his sugar was low. He has had some battles with diabetes over the last decade. After getting to the venue and checking his symptoms, I went to a local convenience store and got some candies that help get sugar rates back up as they bottom out. About 30 to 45 minutes later, he seemed to be slightly better. Around 6:30 p.m., we went to the gimmick table to sell pictures and other merchandise as the doors opened. Bobby seemed to be getting a little worse and started to shake and sweat more. He then started having seizure-like jolts. After a second one, we decided he needed to get to the hospital. One of the guys who was participating in the seminar and several of the PWP staff jumped right into action, getting a local ambulance service en route within minutes. Thankfully, the venue we were at was only two miles from area hospitals. Bobby's heart rate and sugar levels were both elevated. Doctors believe he did have a heart attack. His defibulator and pacemaker were key in keeping him from going into full cardiac arrest we do believe. He is currently still in the hospital as the staff wants to make sure as is well. As the true pro he is, Bobby feels bad for the fans who didn't get to interact with him as planned at the PWP event and for the entire PWP crew. We want to certainly thank PWP for the hospitality and promoter Chris Metry was a true class act. If you live in that area, give PWP a chance. They had a lot of great young talent bundled with area veterans. I will do my best to keep everyone up to speed on Bobby's condition throughout the week. Thoughts and prayers are indeed appreciated at this time. - Brian Thompson

- Florida Georgia Line joined commentary at WWE Night of Champions and announced they will be performing live at Tribute To The Troops in December. They stayed on commentary and watched The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler following the announcement. The two band members shoved Damien Sandow at ringside. The band performed live on Raw Country in November in Nashville, Tennessee, the location of tonight's event. - The Miz beat Dolph Ziggler at WWE Night of Champions to win back the Intercontinental Championship. The finish saw Damien Sandow distract Ziggler and Miz rolled him up using his tights for the three. The Intercontinental Championship has been thrown around all summer after Bad News Barrett suffered a shoulder injury and had to give up the title. The Miz would go on to win a battle royal at WWE Battleground in July to win the vacated championship. Dolph Ziggler beat Miz to win the belt last month at SummerSlam. - While the latest update featured Dr. Chris Amann stating that Roman Reigns would be able to return to physical activity "between four and six weeks," a much longer timetable was presented at WWE Night of Champions on Sunday. It was stated from the Kickoff to into the broadcast that Reigns is set to be out of action for "several months." This after undergoing emergency surgery for an incarcerated hernia on Saturday. We originally mentioned the longer timetable here on>, it stands repeating because the fact it was repeated on the pay-per-view broadcast. - Dean Ambrose returned to WWE at Night of Champions, answering an "open challenge" of Seth Rollins. Rollins called out Roman Reigns before Ambrose came back and fought him through the crowd. Ambrose has been away from WWE, filming his role in the WWE Studios production "Lockdown." He was eventually ejected from ringside by The Authority. - For those that missed The Peep Show on the Night of Champions Kickoff, you can watch at this link. - AJ Lee beat Paige and Nikki Bella in a triple threat match to win the Divas Championship at WWE Night of Champions. The finish saw AJ put former champion Paige in the Black Widow to make Paige submit. This is AJ's third championship reign. - Michael Moody, the real-life son of the late Paul Bearer, has died. Michael's brother, Daniel, confirmed the news on his Facebook account. Details are not currently available, other than Michael passed away on Sunday. Michael joined Daniel in posthumously inducting their father into the WWE Hall of Fame earlier this year. Click here to load Photo/Tweet (if not loaded)

Monday, September 21, 2014 10:56 AM ET Update:WWE posted the following here on dot com:

WWE is saddened to learn that Michael Moody, the son of legendary manager Paul Bearer, has passed away. The announcement was made on the Facebook page of Moody's brother Daniel. Earlier this year, both Michael and Daniel accepted Paul Bearer's WWE Hall of Fame induction on behalf of their father.

WWE extends its condolences to the Moody family.

End update. extends our deepest condolences to the Moody family.

- Chris Jericho finished up his most recent run with WWE at Sunday's Night of Champions pay-per-view, going under to Randy Orton. He posted the following Tweets from his verified accounts afterwards:

Click here to load Tweets (if not loaded)

As I explained in Richard Reacts to Night of Champions, Jericho vs. Orton was my pick for match of the night. Not only was the work excellent and the story well told, they did so with virtually no build (despite a last minute push on The Peep Show with Christian).

- Dot com posted a full playlist of backstage interviews from WWE Night of Champions at this link. Talent interviewed included John Cena, Gold & Stardust, The Miz, Sheamus and Florida Georgia Line.

- The first official gameplay trailer for WWE 2K15 has been released. It features Randy Orotn, Undertaker, Kane, Hulk Hogan, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Triple H, Daniel Bryan, Goldust, Roman Reigns, Mark Henry, Fandango, The Wyatt Family, Rob Van Dam, The Usos and more. You can watch it at this link.

This seems to be what was behind WWE's cryptic Tweet, which is a social media strategy they've used to promote the game. For those that missed it, you can view the Tweet below:

Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

WWE 2K15 has multiple release dates. The game will be available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 18, 2014 in North America and 21 November 2014 in Europe. The game will be available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on October 28, 2014 in North America and 31 October 2014 in Europe. - The WWE Network will be replaying the WWE 2K15 roster reveal from last month hosted by Steve Austin immediately following this week's episode of Monday Night Raw. The show is scheduled to air at 11:06 PM ET. Below is a synopsis from the official WWE Network schedule:

WWE 2K15 ROSTER REVEAL9/21/14 Hosted by 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin and Renee Young, a panel of WWE Superstars and Legends reveal the roster for the WWE 2K15 video game.

- Tickets for WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs go on sale on Saturday at I would expect a presale to take place some time later this week, as we'll provide the details when we get them. WWE TLC 2014 will take place Sunday, December 14, 2014 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Click here for more information. - Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan discuss their potential career paths in a Total Divas bonus clip at this link. Backstage news from WWE Night of Champions in Nashville, TN… - The overall atmosphere backstage was relatively chaotic. The final script didn't come down until approximately 5 PM. - Multiple scenarios were discussed for the finish to Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena. If you read our update from last week, you knew the idea of utilizing Seth Rollins wasn't a new one. WWE ultimately settled on Rollins hitting Cena with the briefcase -- effectively destroying his chance at redemption -- in an attempt to help build him as a top heel. They're in a hurry to build new stars and felt that was the best course of action. - Many backstage were fearing the worst but hoping for the best in regards to Roman Reigns. The word on Sunday was that Reigns could be out for up to three months. The injury threw a wrench into the company's long term storylines. - Sheamus and Cesaro were greeted with rave reviews for their WWE United States Championship match. One observer talked about no matter how many instances the company pulls back on Cesaro, he continues to go above and beyond by delivering. He helped his stock on Sunday, especially with the company looking for more talent to push at the top of the card. - Roman Reigns boarded an airplane on Monday afternoon and is on his way home after undergoing emergency surgery in Nashville, TN last Saturday. He Tweeted the following photo: Click here to load Photo/Tweet (if not loaded)

While WWE officials were hoping for the best and fearing the worst, the latest word is that Reigns will be out of action for several months.

Reigns was rushed to a Nashville, TN hospital on Saturday where he underwent emergency surgery for an incarcerated hernia. The surgery was performed by Dr. Haile M Mezghebe, who was kind enough to provide WWE an update that they featured on the WWE Network. Reigns was pulled from all WWE storylines indefinitely as a result of the surgery, including making him unavailable for Sunday's Night of Champions pay-per-view.

We posted more on the health of Reigns in our Backstage News from Night of Champions.

WWE posted a cool Canvas 2 Canvas video of The Undertaker at this link.

The reason I mention it is rumors surfaced over the weekend that Undertaker was in poor health and not doing well. We just recently posted photos of what appears to be a healthy Undertaker, one with his wife, Michelle McCool, after a work out, however, Michelle used Instagram to dispel any concern. – T-shirts Sold By Pro Wrestlers


She wrote the following:

Sadly, there's always rumors about my hubby! Apparently he's now super sick and not doing well! While we always appreciate thoughts & prayers, we are ALL GOOD IN THE HOOD! Headed to a #cc4c dinner! Don't forget we will both be at the hill country galleria (Austin, tx) this Sunday for the CC4C micro marathon! Come join the fun, register early online & come run for our champions! #teamcaroline #teamdrew #HUBBYWIFEcrossfitworkoutinmorning #AsGoodAsGold

This photo was posted with the inscription:

- Last week's episode of Smackdown -- the go-home to WWE Night of Champions -- garnered an average viewing audience of 2,631,000 viewers on SyFy. While the show was Friday's highest rated original cable program, the audience was down from the past three weeks. TV by the Numbers has viewership/ratings data for the top 100 cable shows among adults 25-54 for the whole day at this link.

- The members of Florida Georgia Line discuss their encounter with Damien Mizdow at Night of Champions in a backstage WWE interview available at this link.

- Dolph Ziggler beat The Miz to win back the Intercontinental Championship on this week's WWE Raw. Miz won the belt last night at Night of Champions after Ziggler won it last month at SummerSlam.

- A commercial for this week's episode of Smackdown aired during Raw on Monday night on the USA Network, questioning the outcome of Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins at Night of Champions. The ad was obviously included before Reigns' status for Night of Champions changed due to an incarcerated hernia.

- While WWE announced Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton for this week's Monday Night Rawon Monday afternoon, they booked Ambrose vs. Kane for the show. Orton faced John Cena. This just goes to show how much creative plans change throughout the day of the show.

- Legendary announcer Lance Russell was at Raw in Memphis on Monday and appeared in front of the live crowd in a segment with Jerry Lawler.

- The October 10th episode of Smackdown is the show's 15th anniversary. You can watch a commercial for it at this link.

- This week's episode of Total Divas garnered an average viewing audience of 1,188,000 viewers on E. Considering the show was up against WWE Night of Champions on the WWE Network and stiff fall competition, the number was fairly impressive. Viewership was up 214,000 viewers from the week prior. TV by the Numbers has the top 100 cable shows for adults 25-54 for the whole day at this link.

- For those that missed the "Keep Calm and Never Give Up" John Cena t-shirt that he wore on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw, I Tweeted a photo of that it that you can view below:

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

- WWE posted an episode of their WWE Insider series on their YouTube channel. The episode is outdated as it features Alicia Fox holding a mic with the old WWE logo but features William Regal showing off snakes and lizards. You can watch at this link. - Dot com noted on Tuesday that Kane and The Bella Twins (oh dear) will represent WWE at Wizard World Nashville Comic Con at the Music City Center on Saturday, Sept. 27. Click here for more. - We reported last week here on Premium that Randy Orton hasn't been happy with the booking of his character lately and was pushing for time off. Given the lack of top talent, WWE has been reluctant to grant his request. One of the things they're trying to do to convince him to stay is to make him more of a priority. An example of this is having Orton be the guy to write Chris Jericho off TV (as random as the feud was) and they had planned to feature him in the co-main event at WWE Hell in a Cell against Roman Reigns. The injury to Reigns destroyed the plans but WWE was scrambling on Monday to figure out his next program. It's also likely why he was put in the show's main event against John Cena, when a previous match against Dean Ambrose had been announced. It will be interesting to see where they go with Orton headed into Hell in a Cell but keeping him close to The Authority is very much part of them catering to him as a top guy. - This week's episode of Monday Night Raw garnered an average viewing audience of 3,879,000 viewers on the USA Network. The show featured fallout from the WWE Night of Champions pay-per-view that took place Sunday night on the WWE Network. The audience was up from last week's go-home viewership of 3,826,000 viewers but was the fifth straight week of Raw viewership averaging under four million viewers. Below is how the show broke down by hour: Hour one - 4,000,000 viewers Hour two - 3,790,000 viewers Hour three - 3,847,000 viewers If there is a silver lining, it's that WWE Raw was Monday's highest-rated non football program with a 1.4 adults 18-49 rating during its 8:00PM hour. We'll also note that viewership increased from hour two to hour three, something that is no longer the norm. Monday Night Football on ESPN did an average viewing audience of 13,265,000 viewers. TV by the Numbers has data for the top 100 cable shows in adults 25-54 for the whole day at this link. Backstage news from Monday Night Raw in Memphis, TN… - If it wasn't clear by the fact that WWEannounced and promoted a match they didn't end up doing, this week's show was described as an unmitigated train wreck. It didn't stop there, with Dean Ambrose running past Seth Rollins to get to Randy Orton putting an exclamation mark on the lack of creative process. - There was originally scheduled to be a lengthy Paul Heyman promo about Night of Champions but it was left off. Brock Lesnar's status for the show was never in question as he was never booked or advertised. The expectation was that Heyman would be used for the fallout but he was forgotten for no reason. - We're told both John Cena and Randy Orton were outspoken about problems with the script. The latter is perhaps more troubling as he's requested time off towards the end of the year and the company is trying to make him a priority in order to convince him to stay. - Bo Dallas vs. Jack Swagger was reportedly "tossed together" literally in the minutes before Bo got to the Gorilla position. - Triple H joined Michael Cole in his weekly kayfabe sit-down interview series. In it, Hunter compared Roman Reigns' injury to that of Daniel Bryan and said guys should choose who they run up against a little more carefully. Cole asked if Hunter had suggested that Dean Ambrose was an A+ player. Triple H said there's no defending mental stability in that case. Dean Ambrose is an interesting guy and sometimes you've got to know when to fight and when not to fight. Hunter agreed with Ambrose that it was "cool" when he got his head drove through cinderblocks and hit by a car. He said durability seems to be an issue, like with Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns. Triple H announced a Battle Royal to determine the No. 1 contender for the WWE Intercontinental Championship for this week's Smackdown and later that night, the winner will face Dolph Ziggler for the title. We have complete taping results at this link. You can watch the interview in its entirety at this link. - WWE has hired Arda Ocal to work as a broadcaster. Ocal -- who has changed his name on Twitter to Kyle Edwards -- confirmed the news on social media: Click here to load Photo/Tweet (if not loaded)

Ocal previously worked with Renee Young (Renee Paquette) at The Score television network in Canada and most recently worked for The Weather Network. Young offered her well wishes:

Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

- Justin Gabriel wrote on social media on Wednesday that fans should watch his match [against Kofi Kingston] on this week's episode of WWE Superstars because it might be the "last time" they see "4Fiddy" (his nickname based on his 450 splash finisher). The following was written on his Instagram account:

Don't forget to catch WWE Superstars on the The Network this week. It might be the last time u ever see 4Fiddy. U just never know.

This is from his verified Twitter account: Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

Finally, this image accompanied the transcription:

The match was taped Monday night in Memphis, TN and the outcome was as you would expect.

- WWE issued a statement to about the health of Brock Lesnar, stating there is  “no truth to the rumors about issues with Brock Lesnar’s health.” Apparently the concerns had to do with an article posted on It's abundantly clear to me that Lesnar just sweats a lot. He's healthy folks, I just wish he was on TV more often.

- William Regal, Kofi Kingston and others discuss what TV shows they DVR in the latest episode of WWE Inbox. You can watch it at this link.

- Congratulations are in order to Mickie James and Magnus as their son, Donovan Patrick Aldis, was born on Thursday.

- Vince McMahon and the creative team spent Wednesday in meetings to address "where they go from here" in storylines.

Based on feedback they are getting from doctors regarding Roman Reigns, they're now confident he'll be back for WWE TLC in December. However, some in creative want to hold him out an additional month and have him return in the 30-man Royal Rumble match, put him over and set up a match against Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 31.

The big question is - what do they do with Lesnar between now and then?

We're told Vince has been going back and forth on whether to do Brock vs. John Cena again at Hell in a Cell or try to keep them apart for a little bit longer and blowoff the program in the main event of TLC. It's also been pitched of doing Cena vs. Lesnar at Survivor Series and then doing a triple threat with Cena vs. Lesnar vs. Seth Rolins at TLC.

If WWE doesn't do Cena vs. Lensar at Hell in a Cell, what takes it's place?

The lack of star power has created problems on multiple levels and based on what we've heard, nothing concrete was decided on Wednesday.

One observer wondered if next week's Raw would be another train wreck full of last-minute re-writes. The company has plenty of time until Hell in a Cell to get it figured out but their options are limited, especially given how much they cooled on Bray Wyatt recently.

- Word making rounds is that Prince Devitt will work in WWE as Finn Balor.

While Devitt's name change was expected, Triple H wanted KENTA to keep his name to capitalize on the Japanese market that WWE has been so cold on over the years. However, the decision was made prior to introducing KENTA to the WWE audience at NXT Takeover: Fatal 4-Way a couple weeks ago that he would indeed undergo a name change. Hunter told's Jason Powell that KENTA, Devitt and Kevin Steen would all undergo name changes but they all had input on their WWE names.

That was certainly the case with KENTA going to Hideo Itami (he helped come up with it) but it wasn't that simple. Vince McMahon and Triple H have different philosophies when it comes to changing the names of workers once signed to WWE contracts. Triple H believes the company should acknowledge past success, while McMahon wants to rebrand them.

In an article here on, we explained how the name changes were so important to Vince that he wanted former All-Pro NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman to change his name. Vince was also considering a new character for him that wouldn’t even acknowledge his background in the NFL. Things between WWE and Merriman ultimately fell through, with one source indicating Vince’s direction played into that.

With Vince not wanting to acknowledge the past of an All-Pro NFL player and international superstar in KENTA, no one is off-limits or immune to the changes put forth by WWE.

- TMZ has a new article online examining the dress code of Hulk Hogan's "Hogan Beach" restaurant in Florida. The article, titled "Hulk Hogan's Restaurant -- Don't Dress Like a Black Guy ... Brotha," examines the dress code for the restaurant.

The publication points to contradictions like Hogan wearing his iconic bandana on the sign that includes the dress code or the fact a white male is wearing camouflage shorts in one of the restaurant's commercials. According to the piece, Hogan doesn't know anything about the dress code and is looking into it. You can read it at this link.

My problem with the piece is with the title -- "don't dress like a black guy… brotha." That reeks of disgusting racist stereotypes that I diametrically reject.

- Former WWE star Nick Dinsmore -- who now works as a trainer at NXT -- talks about the WWE Performance Center in a new video blog. You can watch at this link.

- Deadline.comreports that Batista will join Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kate Bosworth and Gina Carano in the upcoming Robert De Niro film called Bus 657. Principal photography is set to begin October 13 in Mobile, AL.

Below is an excerpt from the Deadline article that includes details on Batista's role:

The pic, formerly titled Bus 757, centers on a father (Morgan) without the means to pay for his daughter’s medical treatment. As a last resort, he partners with a greedy co-worker (Bautista) to rob a casino and the two hijack a bus full of hostages and things go awry. De Niro will play Frank “The Pope”, owner of the casino, and Bosworth plays his estranged daughter. Carano is a policewoman in pursuit of the hijacked bus.

Click here for coverage by

Richard Reacts: Batista's budding acting career will only make it harder for him to return to WWE. He was featured in the biggest hit of the summer in Guardians of the Galaxy and has now landed a role next to Robert Di Niro. I don't see what's left for him in WWE. In fact, I believe the company ruined him with his problematic return earlier this year. Allow me to make myself crystal clear...

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- Jake Roberts noted on Twitter on Thursday that a biopsy from his lungs came back benign. He cautioned that more tests still need to be done on his brain, however, he still called the latest results a "win." The following is from Twitter: Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

- Prince Devitt made his WWE NXT debut at Thursday night's taping as Finn Balor. The debut was taped for the November 6, 2014 episode of NXT when The Ascension came to the ring and called out Hideo Itami.

The following excerpt comes from our exclusive taping coverage by Scott Brooks:

The Ascension came to the ring and called out Hideo. He came to the stage. The lights went out and “Prince Devitt” lit up on the screen and the crowd cheered. It faded into “Finn Balor” and he came out and stood with Hideo. They came to the ring and got the advantage on the Ascension. Balor did a running double stomp onto Viktor on the floor. Balor then hit a double stomp to the back of Konnor’s head while he was kneeled over and Hideo followed up with the Busaiku knee. The two posed together as The Ascension were laid out.

I spoke with Scott about it and he told me the crowd went crazy when Balor's name came on the screen.

Photos surfaced on Twitter that we have included below:

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- We're able to confirm the finish that WWE went with for the Night of Champions main event, with the Seth Rollins interference, was the finish they had planned before Roman Reigns' health issue.

Here were the original plans for the show, pre-Roman Reigns health issue:

Dean Ambrose was going to cost Rollins his match against Reigns, with Seth trying to "cash in" at the end of the night (with John Cena stopping him). This would then set up Brock Lesnar vs. Cena in a Hell in a Cell at the pay-per-view next month, blowoff Rollins vs. Ambrose, with Reigns moving on to Orton.

Not knowing initially how long Reigns was going to be out, the decision was made to stick with the planned finish for the main event.

As we've reported previously, with the pay-per-views only costing $9.99 instead of $54.95, WWE feels they have a lot more leeway with doing DQs and bait and switches in major matches.

- TMZ updated their coverage of the dress code at Hogan's Beach by stating that he had the restaurant pull it down. According to their report, Hogan said the dress code was modeled after ones used at Las Vegas and Miami pool parties and while it was never meant to be racist, he understands some people take it that way. Click here to read the article in its entirety.

- The weekend is here and so is the latest episode of The JBL Cole. Watch now at this link.

- WWE has updated their Key Performance Indicators through August 31, 2014. There's not a lot of new details to provide that haven't already been reported. A new page has been added for WWE Network subscribers with the 700,000 subscriber mark that was previously announced through June. Here's a screen capture:

WWE Network Data

Additionally, updated pay-per-view data for traditional buys was posted through SummerSlam. The charts are difficult to read/understand, so rather than speculate, here are some screen captures:

PPV Data 1
PPV Data 2

Click here to go over WWE's latest business data.

- Earlier on we detailed the WWE NXT debut of Finn Balor. On Friday, he Tweeted his first comments about the character. You can view his Tweet below:

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TNA News

- TNA Wrestling is bringing in Indian wrestler Mahabali Shera. Kurt Angle called him the newest member of the TNA roster, insinuating he's been signed to a contract. I am unable to confirm TNA has secured a new domestic TV agreement, however, they are at least lining up multiple talent acquisitions. Below is an Instagram photo of Angle with Shera: Shera worked for TNA as part of Ring Ka King a few years ago. - Were you unhappy with WWE Night of Champions? If so, TNA wants you to know that you have options. The following is from Twitter: Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

- TNA Wrestling and their TV partner in India, Sony SIX, have announced the signing of Mahabali Shera. We made note of the acquisition here on over the weekend but now it is official.

I'm not sure how TNA is handling this and how much Sony SIX is helping with the talent acquisition. Domestically, the word is TNA doesn't want to commit to more contracts until their TV situation is settled. However, the company is lining up some roster announcements, some that are going to surprise people.

Below is the official press release on Shera:

TNA and SONY SIX Announces the Signing of their first Indian Wrestler: Mahabali Shera

Chandigarh, 22nd September 2014: Marking a historic moment in the world of wrestling entertainment, TNA and SONY SIX together announced the signing of the first ever Indian wrestler Mahabali Shera into the global roster of TNA Wrestling.

Catering to the sustained demand and popularity of the sport, the announcement marks a significant investment by SONY SIX and TNA to the growth of wrestling entertainment viewership across the Indian market.

This momentous announcement comes after a yearlong search for an Indian wrestler which begun with Hall of Fame star Kurt Angle's visit to India in 2013. The TNA superstar selected and mentored Mahabali Shera, welcoming him into the elite faction of the TNA global talent roster.

Under his guidance, the 24-year-old, Mahabali will feature across TNA's programming line-up of TNA Impact Wrestling (Monday nights) in a bid to grow the popularity of wrestling in India through local connect.

Viewing the market potential, SONY SIX and TNA, through this announcement, state their collaborated vision of exponentially growing and reaching out to a broader fans base for TNA in India.

Speaking on the announcement, Mr. Prasana Krishnan, Business Head, Sony SIX commented, "We are thrilled to partner with TNA in creating this iconic moment with the unveiling of the first ever Indian wrestler for TNA. India is home to some of the most passionate wrestling fans and through our consistent offering, high quality content and market reach we will make Mahabali Shera a household hero and fuel growth and popularity for TNA."

On the launch announcement of Mahabali Shera into TNA roster, TNA President Dixie Carter said, "Signing Mahabali to our roster as the first Indian wrestler is a testament to TNA's commitment to our Indian viewers and our continued focus on international brand expansion. With his in-ring talent and incredible story of achieving his dreams, we are confident viewers will quickly connect with Mahabali as he represents the people and nation of India throughout the world."

Speaking on Mahabali Shera joining TNA, Kurt Angle said, "It's great to be back in India where TNA Wrestling is enjoyed by millions. This visit makes it even more special as I introduce Mahabali Shera as the newest TNA Superstar. Mahabali Shera is a great athlete who has showcased tremendous potential and skill, which strengthens my belief that he has what it takes to become a champion."

Being signed on by TNA, Mahabali Shera said, "TNA is one of the biggest wrestling entertainment organizations in the world and I am deeply thankful and thrilled to be a part of it. With the organization featuring some of the best wrestlers in their talent roster, it is a great opportunity as well as honour for me. I hope my inclusion in the TNA storyline will be a catalyst for audiences in India to connect with TNA and enjoy the sport exclusively on SONY SIX."

TNA schedule on Sony SIX:

TNA Impact Wrestling
9.00pm – 11.00pm

TNA Greatest Matches
9.00pm – 11.00pm

TNA Xplosion
9.00pm – 10.00pm

TNA Greatest Matches
10.00pm – 11.00pm

- posted an article about former WWE announcer Josh Mathews being spotted at TNA Headquarters in Nashville, TN. The article, which has now been removed from the company's website, read as follows:

Breaking News: Josh Mathews Spotted Outside of TNA Wrestling Headquarters in Nashville

Today, Josh Mathews was spotted outside of TNA Wrestling Headquarters in Nashville, TN. Matthews would later enter a closed door meeting with TNA executives. No details on what was said, however will keep you current when additional details are available.

Two photos were posted that I included on my Twitter timeline. You can view them below:

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Mathews was released from WWE in June due to budget cuts. He was backstage at an Impact taping in July and rumors began to swirl of the company being interested in his services. - WRESTLE-1noted on their website that Davey Richards would not be able to compete at Bound for Glory on Sunday, October 12, 2014 due to the broken leg he suffered last month. On the same day TNAposted and removed an article stating that Josh Mathews was "spotted outside of TNA Wrestling Headquarters in Nashville," Mathews returned to Twitter. He promoted this week's "NYC: Gold Rush" episode of Impact Wrestling and talked about there being no competition in WWE after Jim Ross was forced out. Below is a Tweet: Click here to load Tweet (if not loaded)

It's unknown at this point if Mathews has a contract to work with TNA but the teases are telling, including Mathews Re-Tweeting this:

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- Jimmy Suzuki, who is working as a liaison between TNA Wrestling and WRESTLE-1 for October's Bound for Glory pay-per-view, noted that Bobby Lashley will not work the show next month. He detailed a meeting in Nashville on Tuesday and Tweeted a photo with Mike Tenay, Bob Ryder, John Gaburick and Taz. The following is from Twitter: Click here to load Photos/Tweets (if not loaded)

- This week's episode of Impact Wrestling, subtitled NYC: Gold Rush, garnered an average viewing audience of 969,000 viewers on Spike TV (down 141,000 viewers from last week). This is the lowest viewing audience for TNA this month and their third lowest in the Wednesday timeslot. The show was not among the top 100 cable programs among adults 18-49 for Wednesday, as reported by TV by the Numbers.


Let's just cut to the chase - what did you think of the way Night of Champions ended with Seth Rollins coming out, causing the DQ but not cashing in?

As you can tell by the headline of Richard Reacts To WWE Night Of Champions 2014 – The Ending That Didn’t Make Sense, I didn't like it. It was there I explained why John Cena taking out Seth Rollins didn't make sense because in essence, he was saving Brock Lesnar. Some readers pointed out it's not in Cena's character to worry about who he has a better chance of beating to win back the WWE World Heavyweight Championship but that's not exactly my point. If they were going to involve Seth Rollins, there were other ways it could have been handled without having Cena make the save for Lesnar. That's what I didn't like.

WWE was booked into a corner by rematching Cena vs. Lesnar -- especially after the way their SummerSlam match was booked -- but there was just no logic to the end of the pay-per-view. It came off as awkward and seemed clearly out of place. I understand what WWE wanted to accomplish. They wanted Lesnar to walk away champion, Cena to come back redeemed and also remind the audience that Rollins is "Plan B." Maybe my biggest issue is WWE making it blatantly obvious they're going to do whatever it takes to keep the title on Lesnar without [further] burying other roster members.

The idea of a long-term part-time champion is something I've soured on and they had an out on Sunday night. Seth Rollins could have successfully cashed in, Lesnar wouldn't have looked weak because he took four Attitude Adjustments and they would have had a top fall program of Rollins vs. Cena, while maintaining Lesnar's top-tier status for Wrestlemania 31 next year.

I understand those that feel Lesnar holding the belt for just over a month may seem foolish but what's even more foolish is having someone that only works a handful of dates holding the company's only world title for a lengthy amount of time. It would be one thing if every time Brock appeared on TV it popped viewership but I believe that's already lost its luster. When he's not there, it just comes off as frustrating and when he comes back, it leaves the viewer questioning where he's been.

Further, the whole dream scenario that many have of Roman Reigns going over Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31 could have been damaged by the situation over the weekend. New accounts suggest Reigns could be out "several months" and the company has a golden opportunity to elevate Rollins. I'm also told Vince McMahon wants to do Brock vs. The Rock, so if the belt is off Lesnar, that scenario is solved as well.

Do you believe that Christian's in-ring career is over?

We finally got an official health update on Christian on the Night of Champions Kickoff. As we reported here on, it was stated that Christian has put his career on-hold due to injuries and they hope to have him back one day. Therefore stating he is not medically cleared but they hope he will gain that clearance to resume his career, hence the "on-hold" explanation. I hope Christian is able to come back and am not going to speculate about his future. I just hope if he is cleared to come back, he doesn't jeopardize his long-term health or well-being to do so. If he retired, he would still go down in history as to having a phenomenal career.

With how bad WWE needs main event talent, how bad does Roman Reigns being out indefinitely hurt the company?

Roman Reigns being out is yet another significant blow to WWE, as they really couldn't afford to lose another name working in the top of the card. The good news is Dean Ambrose is back so that should help offset the loss but the company is going to have to work extremely hard in the latter part of 2014 to create some new credible main event talent. Bray Wyatt is completely lost right now and they've got to find a way to restart on him in a big way. He's one of the many victims of a deep creative rut.

How many pay-per-views on average have WWE shows done since the WWE Network has been in existence?

WWE still releases pay-per-view buyrate data quarterly, along with updates on WWE Network subscribers. Official buyrate numbers for Wrestlemania 30, Extreme Rules, WWE Payback and Money in the Bank are available at this link. WWE began a very questionable promotional tactic for their Network at Night of Champions on Sunday night, as they essentially shamed anyone that bought the show on pay-per-view and put over the $9.99 price of WWE Network. In my eyes, shaming people for purchasing your product highlights a clear disconnect between WWE management and their fan base. They're clearly going "all in" on the WWE Network.

From the Ask WNW vault…

December 2012: Wasn’t Brock Lesnar’s deal with WWE to face Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29 next year? - Brock Lesnar signed a one year part-time contract with WWE believed to be worth somewhere in the range of $5 million. The assumption is he’ll do whatever they ask him to collect his paycheck. That said, Undertaker and The Rock both want to face him at the pay-per-view next year.

You're now a loud critic of Brock Lesnar as WWE World Heavyweight Champion. While I will agree his part-time nature leaves an awkward situation to book around, it's not the first time a world champion hasn't been present every week. So my question is simple -- why is Brock Lesnar such a bad WWE World Heavyweight Champion?

Brock Lesnar isn't the first world champion that hasn't been featured every week and we can find examples throughout history of guys that were full-time wrestlers but not featured every week because they're billing was to be considered a "big deal." The problem is that doesn't work today.

Yes, times have changed but it's more than that. Add up Raw, Main Event, NXT, Superstars and Smackdown and you have 8 hours of new in-ring programming each week. This without even touching content like Total Divas, WWE Network originals, the pre and post shows or the weekly YouTube series' that are distributed online. I'm not suggesting that Lesnar needs to be on Main Event, NXT or Superstars, heck I can live with him not on Smackdown. But when Brock misses Raw, it seems like an eternity before we see him again. Take into account that he's not at live events and there is a lot of material in-between his appearances.

What makes it worse is all of this time is passing without a viable champion. There's only world title and the secondary titles couldn't mean less than they do currently. So, in essence, Brock Lesnar as champion is almost like not having a champion. The idea of "keeping his appearances special" sounds good on paper but when you consume the amount of programming that WWE puts out each week, it makes him completely forgettable.

I mentioned in my latest rant that someone Tweeted me they were exciting for Raw because of the way the Night of Champions main event ended (in response to my criticism). The company didn't follow up at all. People said I was crazy and heavily criticized me for suggesting Seth Rollins should have won the title.

What would have been better? Watching the beginning of a new era on Raw featuring a strapped Seth Rollins with a pissed off John Cena and a returning Dean Ambrose or doing absolutely nothing and producing yet another skippable show? Because the latter is exactly what you got!

You've now gone on and on about WWE's creative rut and while I agree, how does the company come out of it?

Armchair booking and playing Monday morning quarterback is an easy thing to do online but actually turning things around is far more difficult. I'm not going to sit here and BS you like there is some type of A+B=C formula to turn around WWE's creative woes. These problems weren't created overnight and they won't be solved overnight. Further, we can't go back in the past and erase things such as Brock Lesnar ending the streak. Once a plan is executed, there is no going back.

However, I think the first step in solving WWE's problems is getting their World Heavyweight Championship back on a full-time performer. As much as everyone hates John Cena as champion, at least it would give someone for the up and comers to chase that can actually make weekly appearances. I personally would have strapped Seth Rollins at Night of Champions to reset and see what could be built for the rest of the year. I think there would have been a lot of money in Rollins/Cena/Ambrose for the title from now through WWE TLC (the December pay-per-view).

Since they didn't do it at Night of Champions, they could create something for Hell in a Cell but Lesnar was nowhere to be found on this week's Raw. Other than that, the company is going to have to look towards some of their new talent. I appreciate Goldust's resurgence just as much as the next person and Kane has been a reliable veteran for years. However, these guys must take a backseat to talent like The Wyatt Family, Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler, etc. Mark Henry helping get Rusev over is fine but I question Rusev's ceiling and still feel like Lana has been the one to benefit the most from it.

The talent is there but the creative direction isn't. WWE was blindsided by the injury to Roman Reigns and they have absolutely no idea what to do with Brock Lesnar after John Cena.

So once again, I can't give you a formula but even the most sour fan will tell you that Dean Ambrose was entertaining on Raw. It's time for WWE to go that route and abandon the hot-shot short-term mentality. I don't know if you follow sports but here's an analogy. Sometimes when a team has struggled for a prolonged period of time, they bench their veterans and play some of their promising prospects to see what they have. I believe it's time to do that and stop relying on guys that used to be popular or have proven track records based on past success (remember how bad Batista backfired when his success minimized the emergence of Daniel Bryan?).

I also want to address the people that believe taking the belt off Lesnar means the streak ended for nothing. The Undertaker's Wrestlemania streak is over. We can't go back and change that but it shouldn't mean that we are forced to endure a paper champion for a prolonged period solely in the name of respect. I respect The Undertaker and the streak but the whole idea of keeping Lesnar strong until Wrestlemania 31 next year only for him to "pass the torch," shouldn't come at the sacrifice of the entire product. WWE sucks right now and trying to keep Lesnar strong when he has one foot in, the other wherever else is a big part of it.

Do you think WWE missed an opportunity by not revisiting Dean Ambrose after he was locked in that room on Raw? How do you feel about his magic trick at the end of the show?

There was so much other stuff to criticize from this week's Raw (no Brock Lesnar/PPV main event followup, random switching of titles, champions getting pinned clean, etc), I don't feel we need to focus negative energy on the lone bright spot. I believe we can use our own imaginations to figure out that Ambrose, the maniacal babyface, outsmarted The Authority to get back to ringside.

What was the reason for the cryptic "9/22/2014" Tweet?

WWE's cryptic Tweet over the weekend was for the first official gameplay trailer of WWE 2K15 as we reported here at This shouldn't have surprised anyone, considering WWE has used cryptic Tweets all along in promoting WWE 2K15. There was some speculation it had to do with new NXT talent but that's probably exactly what WWE wanted people to think.

From the Ask WNW vault…

March 2012: Has WWE considered lowering the prices of their B-level pay-per-views. By giving up some money they could in turn boost a show’s butyrate? - I agree the price of WWE pay-per-views is too high, especially paying more for High Definition (which should have never been the case). The pay-per-view business is not what it once was and I’ve gone as far as saying it’s an outdated model with the multitude of ways people are now viewing content. There has been a lot of talk about WWE’s pay-per-view business taking a dramatic shift with the launch of the WWE Network but it has been delayed with the network’s delay. When the network finally premieres, I expect a change to take place in regards to the company’s pay-per-view model.

With Roman Reigns reportedly out of action of "several months," is there a possibility of Bray Wyatt facing Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 31? Obviously, a babyface turn would have to happen.

I believe the uncertain health situation of Roman Reigns is reason enough to move completely away from the idea of Brock Lesnar holding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship until Wrestlemania 31. I've spent a lot of time this week explaining my change in position of Lesnar as champion and believe it's in WWE's best interest both in the short-term and the long-term to move on. That doesn't mean they can't still book Lesnar in a premiere match at Wrestlemania 31 but I'm ready to see someone that is in WWE's long-term future hold the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. As for Bray Wyatt, he's one of many in need of a much needed reset. Take a look at the booking of Wyatt since SummerSlam. It's unfathomable to me that a time when WWE needs top tier stars the most, one of their brightest prospects is nowhere to be found, completely lost in a sea of irrelevance.

I agree with you that an absentee champion, in general, is a bad idea and that not having Brock Lesnar or even Paul Heyman on Raw was weak. But I don't agree that Seth Rollins should have won the title at Night of Champions. A Hell in the Cell stipulation really only works for marquee feuds. Lesnar vs. Cena at Hell in the Cell, with Dean Ambrose vs. Rollins on the undercard has more appeal than Rollins vs. Cena, at least for now. Of course, if Lesnar isn't available for Hell in a Cell, that would be another story. Your thoughts?

I agree the Hell in a Cell stipulation is better suited for a program blowoff and I'm not opposed to the idea of Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins in it. As for John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar, again, the stipulation would be effective but it's a nightmare to book. If they put Cena over, the SummerSlam booking is rendered irrelevant but if they put Lesnar over, who's next? If Cena can't get it done, especially after the redemptive story told at Night of Champions (where Cena had Lesnar beat before Rollins interfered), who on the roster can be booked to look as though they have a realistic shot? My proposed scenario of Rollins winning at Night of Champions would have solved the problem but that's over and done with. WWE's short-term outlook of booking for the "right now" is hurting them and given the fact there was absolutely no Lesnar followup on television this week, I don't see it getting better.

I just don't understand WWE's marketing of the WWE Network. It's all about the price and nothing about the content. Monday Night Wars. Every pay-per-view. And the only selling point they seem to be talking about is the price. What's the reason behind this questionable marketing strategy?

I agree with everything you said and cannot begin to explain the questionable marketing strategy of the WWE Network. As I wrote on social media, the price of the WWE Network shouldn't even matter. Take Wrestlemania for example. The most expensive pay-per-view but also the most purchased and it's not even close. This is proof alone the WWE audience will buy if the interest is there. Even if the WWE Network was $29.99/month, it would be a value considering I used to pay $54.95 each month for pay-per-views. However, the focus is all on the price -- $9.99/month -- without playing up the fact there are entertaining original programs (Legends' House, Monday Night War), a vast and expansive tape library and oh yeah, every pay-per-view each month that used to cost over $50. Lost in $9.99 is the WWE Network is a valuable cutting edge product that even the most casual WWE fan should own. Even if it just showed the pay-per-views each month, it would be worth owning. The additional content makes it a no-brainer but it's a point WWE has been unable to convey to the majority of their viewing audience.

Did Mark Henry get legitimately injured during his match with Rusev at Night of Champions? It just doesn't make sense for him to go under the way he did and then come back on Raw and get squashed again.

Mark Henry wasn't injured at Night of Champions and is clearly trying to help WWE get Rusev over. Mark Henry is a reliable veteran that wants to give back and that's fine. I'm just not sure if Rusev is more than a mid-carder and feel more of his heat has gone to Lana. Hopefully WWE has at least one lightning rod moving forward after the strong commitment and resources that have went into this push.

From the Ask WNW vault…

November 2012: When a wrestler has an injury during a televised match (e.g. Cody Rhodes), how is the decision made to continue the match? In Cody’s case, how is the decision made “on the fly” to continue the match, but without tagging Cody back in? - Injuries happen and that is one of the reasons for referees being involved in matches. In the case of Cody Rhodes, he was visibly injured and Damien Sandow didn’t tag him back in. When an injury occurs during a singles match, it is common for the workers to “go-home quick” which is an alternative finish that goes directly to the end of the match so the injured worker can receive medical attention. If the injury is serious, the referee will stop the match and immediately signal to the back medical assistance is needed. All and all it’s up to the workers and referees to communicate what is going on in the ring and make the decision on the fly.

What do you think the ceiling is for Renee Young & Byron Saxton?

I like them both but I want to go on record by stating that Renee Young is quickly becoming my favorite broadcaster on WWE television. From the way she handles herself to how she comes across on camera, she is proving to be an asset for the company. No offense to Mike Adamle (remember him?) but he proved even if someone has broadcast experience, WWE is a completely different animal. While Renee came to WWE experienced, she had her work cut out for her and has passed with flying colors. Byron Saxton is like Alex Riley in that he transitioned from the ring to broadcast and was at one time involved in the NXT creative process. Saxton actually worked as a reporter and news anchor before coming to WWE, so the transition was smooth.

What did you think of Fred Durst's comments where he said the Undertaker wasn't doing very good?

Michelle McCool took to Instagram earlier this week to debunk rumors concerning the health of The Undertaker. Apparently, Fred Durst stated the following at a show last Saturday in San Antonio before playing "Rollin," which was used at one time as Undertaker's entrance theme:

“This next song goes out to our friend Mark Calaway, The Undertaker. He’s not doing real well right now and we want all our fans to keep him in their thoughts and prayers,” the rocker revealed.

I did not personally hear Durst's comments, as they were covered by When I first heard about them, I didn't pay much attention because we had just posted new photos of Undertaker [courtesy of Michelle McCool]. In one of the photos, they had just finished a workout.

Undertaker came out of Wrestlemania 30 with a severe concussion (all concussions are severe but this was the terminology used to describe Undertaker's state following this year's show). While I personally have never suffered a concussion, those that have will tell you the recovery is a difficult and tricky thing. Let's also not forget Undertaker spent a career taking bumps. Someone commented about how Undertaker didn't "look 100% healthy." He's never going to be 100% healthy because of what he's done to his body. It's not like he spent decades behind a desk. However, what Michelle was saying was that there are no serious health issues and they are "all good."

The UK version of the WWE Network was supposed to be launching October 1st, but there are no details to be found. Do you have any details on this at all?

According to WWE, the WWE Network is still on track for an October 1st launch in the United Kingdom. The service will be available over the top, as it is in the United States. Company executives stated in the most-recent conference call with investors that the service would likely only be available as a traditional Pay-TV channel as it currently is on Rogers systems in Canada. I would expect heavy promotion for the UK launch next week. If something changes, we'll post the details when we get them.

Is Emma still in the doghouse and that's why we haven't seen her?

Emma has been buried and forgotten since her shoplifting arrest over the summer that left her fired and rehired. We detailed the bizarre change of direction here on as the company was greeted with massive internal backlash following her release. Since then, she's hardly been able to showcase the potential she flashed at NXT that fast tracked her to the main roster. I guess you could say Emma is still in the doghouse but I'm not so sure it's that as much as she isn't a priority what-so-ever.

Is it just me or is Rusev's win streak just groan worthy? He's not a monster, he's annoying.

I want to see WWE create new stars so it makes me feel like a hypocrite for criticizing Rusev. I believe he's fine -- as a midcarder -- but I don't see him as much more. On the other hand, Lana could end up replacing Vickie Guerrero as the female that generates nuclear heat every time she picks up the mic. One of the things I focused on in my Cesaro writeup was that workers like Rusev get lengthy protected runs when highly talented prospects are given anything but. I wish I could explain why that is.

From the Ask WNW vault…

February 2012: With less big names in WWE wouldn’t it make more sense to eliminate one of the world titles and just go back to one brand? - Completely nixing the brand extension and consolidating the world titles would not be a good move. There will be fewer opportunities to develop new stars and it would be counter to WWE’s strategy of creating competition within itself. The people that say they want to see the brand extension end and the titles consolidated are the same people sick of John Cena. Shrinking the main event scene in WWE is going to mean more of guys like Cena, Randy Orton, CM Punk and less of guys like Daniel Bryan. I like the approach WWE has taken with Raw being a “Supershow” and Smackdown being its only brand. It provides an opportunity to get talent from both brands on the flagship show while at the same time allowing for opportunities for further talent development.

With the crowd embracing Dean Ambrose upon his return, what do you think the next move WWE will make with him?

I plan on writing a detailed article about the elevation of Dean Ambrose, however, he has been embraced since his return from filming the WWE Studios production "Lockdown." His one month absence was great for him and provided just what was needed to take the next step in his push. In the immediate short term, they have to sort things with Seth Rollins. In the long term, I believe the possibilities are endless. However, it's essential the company handle it in a tactful way and not try to do too much too fast. The opportunity is there and the stuff on Raw was excellent. Let's hope they can carry that momentum and capitalize when they need it the most. Again, I'll be discussing this later in detail.

What do you think of WWE bringing in Kurt Angle to work Brock Lesnar as a stopgap between now and Wrestlemania 31? Isn't Kurt a free agent?

While WWE was widely believed to have no interest in Kurt Angle returning as an in-ring performer, that had begun to change at one point last month. However, it's not happening and I do not see Kurt Angle coming back to work Brock Lesnar in WWE. Angle taped appearances on TNA television well into November and will not be heading to WWE.

Has TNA signed a TV deal with Velocity or WGN America?

There continues to be a tremendous amount of misinformation making rounds about TNA Wrestling. The company has a deal with Spike TV to carry Impact through the end of 2014. However, as we reported here at, the network is looking to move on. The company remains in negotiations -- through UTA -- with multiple networks about a possible domestic TV home but no announcement has been made. The impression that most people have is that TNA will reach an agreement with a network, however, what that will look like is still unknown.

Is it time for Vince McMahon to step down and let Triple H takeover?

A number of people have asked me recently if I believe that Vince McMahon has lost his touch and it's easy to start pointing fingers, especially when things are bad. However, the idea of "pushing Vince out" or "relieving him of his responsibilities" is an absolutely ridiculous notion. Vince is polarizing and controversial but there's still no denying his success. WWE is at the biggest crossroads in their history - replacing pay-per-view with the WWE Network and now people want to take the boss out and replace him with a guy that's never ran a company on any level. That's completely absurd.

As we reported here on last October, Vince took back over the reigns of "head of creative" in a move that was to relieve Stephanie of the stress as she focused on her on-air character and didn't have the burden of storylines looming over her. Vince has always had the final say so the fact he's head of creative really isn't that groundbreaking of a revelation.

Do you want to know what WWE corporate thinks of McMahon? This is from the company's FORM 10-K filed with the SEC at the end of 2013 as part of their year-end filings:

The unexpected loss of the services of Vincent K. McMahon could adversely affect our ability to create popular characters and creative storylines or could otherwise adversely affect our operating results.

I've been a loud critic of the current WWE creative direction, however, the notion of WWE being better off without Vince -- especially right now -- is IWC overreaction at its worst.

From the Ask WNW vault…

December 2011: How long will Daniel Bryan’s reign as World Heavyweight Champion last? - I am hopeful that Daniel Bryan will have a respectable reign as World Heavyweight Champion. However, I would be lying if I told you I’m not holding my breath every time he is booked to wrestle. People can call me a Daniel Bryan fan boy all they want but the fact of the matter is Bryan has paid his dues and is the best worker in WWE. He has earned this opportunity and it’s about time the company received a makeover at the top.

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