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Thurs. Update: Tough Enough Returning, WWE's New US TV Deal, AJ Lee's Future Explained, Latest Strategy In Regards To CM Punk, Royal Rumble & Elimination Chamber Buys, 5-Point Plan To Grow WWE Network, Backstage Report From Raw, 5 Releases

It's a relatively quiet night with no shows or tapings but Impact Wrestling will air from tape as will WWE NXT. Our Impact "Open Thread" drops at 8:30 PM EDT tonight with streaming live results and your discussion. I previewed this week's show with the spoiler link here on

We'll also have an Open Thread for Legends' House at 8 PM EDT, which precedes WWE NXT at 9 PM EDT. We have taping results for this week's episode of NXT at this link.

Today in Ask WNW, I addressed whether or not Brock Lesnar has lost momentum after ending the streak, major problems ahead for TNA Wrestling, the return of WWE Tough Enough and more on recent WWE releases. You have questions, I have answers.

- Today's top story is WWE releasing their 2014 first quarter earnings. The company reported an $8 million net loss as they launched the WWE Network. You can read a complete breakdown of the numbers at this link.

- Royal Rumble did 467,000 buys (compared to 512,000 in 2013) and Elimination Chamber did 183,000 buys (compared to 213,000 in 2013). We know that Wrestlemania 30 did 400,000 domestic buys this year (compared to 720,000 domestic buys with Wrestlemania 29). That's about it for pay-per-view as the company migrates over to the WWE Network. It was noted that Dish Network is doing the company a solid by telling customers that inquire about their pay-per-views by pointing them towards the WWE Network.

- WWE remains committed to growing their Network, as they place a very high value on it for future growth. George Barrios discussed a 5-point plan to grow the WWE Network. 1) Create new content, 2) Enter new geographies, 3) Expand distribution, 4) Introduce new features and 5) Utilize a high impact marketing plan.

- New original programming coming to WWE Network includes WWE Countdown Season 2, Monday Night War and the return of WWE Tough Enough.

- It's interesting to note that WWE would not rule out allowing a third party (such as Viacom or NBCU) to purchase equity in their Network as long as it made business sense. George Barrios said they are creative enough where they aren't going to push any deal off the table.

- There has most certainly been a delay in WWE's new TV licensing agreement in the United States. While Vince McMahon and other top company officials were confident a deal would be announced early this year, that hasn't been the case. Vince said they would be announcing their new deal "in the next several weeks" and they refused to discuss any specifics. The company is currently negotiating a new TV licensing agreement in India as well.

- The WWE Network at a steady state is 2-3 million domestic subscribers with an additional 500,000-750,000 international subscribers. There was no timeframe for those numbers but the company hopes to reach 1 million domestic subscribers by the end of this year. They're still on track to introduce WWE Network in phase one international countries (UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Nordic) by the end of this year/beginning of next.

- All is well with AJ Lee and WWE has a strategy to hopefully entice CM Punk to negotiate a new contract with them before his current deal expires in a couple of months. We detailed AJ's future in the company as well as the latest strategy for Punk at this link. If you're not yet a Premium Member, join in on the fun with an additional 10% off by using the coupon code VIDEO10.

- The Japanese media is reporting that KENTA is headed to WWE this summer, a claim we cannot confirm. KENTA worked out at the WWE Performance Center in January and it's been announced that his final date with Pro Wrestling NOAH is May 17, 2014. We'll follow along closely as Daniel Bryan, who has had some great bouts with KENTA, put in a good word for him.

- WWE Network is now available for Xbox One, as that's part of the third bullet point on the company's 5-point plan. Expand distribution.

- Ric Flair and Rob Van Dam have been announced for WWE NXT Takeover on May 29, 2014.

- Speaking of Flair, Hunter kept close tabs on him at Raw on Monday. We have a detailed behind-the-scenes report from this week's Raw at this link. Again, if you're not yet a Premium Member, you can take an additional 10% off by using the coupon code VIDEO10.

- Shareholders FoundationclaimedWWE was being investigated for potential violations of securities laws. WWE said the claim had no substance or no merit and it wasn't even mentioned on Thursday's conference call.

- Five releases have happened as WWE has cut Danny Burch, Mason Ryan, Oliver Grey, Shaul Guerrero and Sarah Bäckman. The story on Bäckman is she requested - and was granted - her release. The others were likely due to a lack of path to the main roster and it only made sense to cut ties. If there's anything else, we'll followup at a later date.

- The expert panel for Extreme Rules will be comprised of Josh Mathews hosting Alex Riley, Booker T and Sheamus.

- Kurt Anglegot scammed out of $10,000 and he talked to Alex Barie about it.

- Get ready for Total Divas with some juicy preview clips.

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AJ Lee

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