Backstage news from Monday Night Raw in Portland, OR...
- The idea behind the heavy promotion of Hulk Hogan's birthday bash was two-fold. One, the company wanted to use it as an avenue for Brock Lesnar to "crash the party" and John Cena make the save. There was a lot of angling throughout the day of Hogan wanting to bump and Ric Flair wanting to bump but WWE wouldn't clear either. They're being more careful after what happened to Jerry Lawler and fair or not, it's going to take some convincing to get Vince McMahon to allow Legends to take bumps. Ultimate Warrior dying shortly after appearing on WWE TV earlier this year didn't help things. The second part of the Hogan birthday bash was to help promote the WWE Network. The hope is if fans aren't interested in SummerSlam -- or more specifically, the current product -- they'll signup for the archived content. It's no coincidence the WWE Network was launched internationally the day after a heavily promoted Hogan appearance. Hogan is seen as the "face " of the WWE Network.
- I'm told Sheamus was evaluated backstage after his match with Randy Orton. Medical personnel were looking at his arm for signs of a possible biceps injury but I do not believe it was anything serious.
- WWE producers were "in astonishment" with the mic work of Paul Heyman. The praise is that he's able to captivate the audience and he's the one making Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena have the "big fight feel." As with Hogan, the mic time of Heyman has multiple layers. Obviously the biggest issue is to sell "his client" as the next WWE World Heavyweight Champion but also to remind the audience in a not so subtle way that his DVD is available. As I've previously reported, the Heyman DVD set is selling very well.
- Brock Lesnar's new "Eat, Sleep, Conquer John Cena" t-shirt is available on WWEShop.com. Most feel like his title win at SummerSlam is an inevitability at this point.
- The Usos will defend the WWE Tag Team Championship at this week's Main Event taping in an "Open Challenge." Win or lose, a WWE Tag Team Championship bout continues to be rumored for SummerSlam or the Kickoff show. The company didn't announce it Monday night and the feeling was that was intentional to sell the defense on Tuesday.
- Vince McMahon's interest (or lack thereof) in Bo Dallas and Adam Rose has hit a low point. With so much focus being on trying to sell SummerSlam, the newer gimmicks have seemingly brushed to the side. That doesn't mean the list of prospects is any shorter or any less deep. Kevin Steen reports in two weeks and multiple stars loom for main roster call-ups including The Ascension. WWE has successfully reloaded NXT with Fergal Devitt, Kenta and Steen. The point of interest in what I've termed "the international trifecta" is how much time each will spend at the WWE Performance Center. None of the three want to spend a lot of time down there and we're told it took some convincing to get these deals done.
- Cesaro is a worker that Vince McMahon continues to flip-flop on. One week he wants to push him -- other weeks not so much. This week, Cesaro was utilized for his mat skills but also for the sole purpose of putting his former parter, Jack Swagger, over. It's amazing how this script flipped, something I noted here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com.