WWE Observer news

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    Spudz

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    WWE Observer news

    Post by Spudz on Fri Dec 27, 2013 2:40 pm

    stole this from another forum, from the latest Observer issue

    MOST MAIN EVENTS DRAWING MORE THAN 10,000 FANS

    27 - John Cena

    13 - The Rock

    10 - C.M. Punk, The Shield

    9 - Dolph Ziggler, Ryback

    8 - Sheamus, Daniel Bryan

    5 - Big Show

    4 - Randy Orton, La Sombra, Atlantis, Ultimo Guerrero, Volador Jr.

    3 - Cain Velasquez, Brock Lesnar, Kane, Alberto Del Rio

    This makes the sixth year, and the fifth straight, that John Cena has been the leader in this category, with previous years as wrestling’s top draw being 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

    With six years as No. 1 in wrestling, he trails only Jim Londos (13), Bruno Sammartino (Cool, Hulk Hogan (Cool, Bill Longson (7) and Lou Thesz (7). He’s now surpassed Strangler Lewis, The Sheik, Joe Stecher and Argentina Rocca, who were the top draws in five different years.

    Cena beat his 2012 total of 19 shows, but trailed his 2011 total of 33 and 2010 total of 38.

    Cena has also had eight years as a top ten draw, something matched by only 25 wrestlers in history, every one of whom is an undisputable all-time great: Londos, Thesz, Sammartino, Lewis, Ric Flair, Hogan, Stecher, Dick the Bruiser, Andre the Giant, Rocca, Killer Kowalski, Longson, Buddy Rogers, Whipper Billy Watson, Yvon Robert, Crusher, Gene Kiniski, The Sheik, Ray Stevens, HHH, Johnny Valentine, Harley Race, Perro Aguayo Sr., and Antonio Inoki.


    He had always stated he was up for a last run and had nixed any approaches by TNA, telling people if he was going to come back, it would be only in WWE.

    While this could change, right now they have a Batista vs. Orton match scheduled for WrestleMania. He’s actually been on the books to be at Mania this year for a few months, probably dating back to around the period the first rumors came out that he denied, about coming back.

    Batista is expected to be in the Royal Rumble. If Orton ends up as the champion at Mania, then the original plan was likely for Batista to win the Rumble. If Orton loses the title, then the plan was likely for whoever gets the shot at the new champion to be the guy who takes the Rumble.


    HHH vs. C.M. Punk is now on the books for Mania as the climax of The Authority angle. Roman Reigns is a back-up plan for HHH’s opponent, but there was a Langston vs. Reigns singles match tease on TV this week, and I don’t see that taking place at the Rumble because that would seem way too soon, and the Elimination Chamber is a multiple-person main event. Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar is also still on the books for WrestleMania.

    With all the top guys seemingly taken, that would still seem that Cena is in for something to do with Hogan in some form, since Cena should be involved if they do a Hogan final deal type of show. As of last week, Cena vs. Bray Wyatt, believe it or not, was the main event planned for the show. Vince McMahon stated to the writers and producers that “Cena is the main event until his time is clearly up. That man feeds us!”

    That one I could see changing because it would require them to have confidence Wyatt has gotten over to that level, and right now that’s going to be tough. It’s great positioning for Wyatt when it comes to establishing him as a long-term top guy, although Miz was in a similar position in one of the biggest Manias of all-time, and look at how that ended up.

    The booking is based on the idea Hogan won’t be able to do a match or pass the medicals. That still leaves a Bryan vs. Michaels spot open (as noted, everyone internally is being told Michaels will not work another match, as are friends of Michaels, but even so I wouldn’t reject that possibility 100%) as well as a lot of other guys not accounted for. Sheamus doing a heel turn could be a backup plan for Cena if they don’t think Wyatt is ready for that spot, but that would be tough to put as the main event. It’s a match that was done for months straight and as a main event program, and while it’s foolish to think that Mania has to be all new matches, Cena vs. Sheamus doesn’t feel like a Mania main event. Sheamus’ shoulder hasn’t recovered yet, which may cut into the time to get him over enough to be in that position, if that can even be done at this point, unless there was a great idea to heat him up.

    Ryback vs. Goldberg would take place if they can make a Goldberg deal, and, as noted last week, Goldberg is driving a hard bargain. To me, if Michaels, Hogan and Batista are involved, there’s zero point this year for Goldberg being involved given the cost and not being positioned strongly enough to where it’ll make a business difference. If Michaels and Hogan aren’t involved, the dynamic changes, but a Goldberg return should be high enough on the featured this to make it worth the expense. All the chants may sound like people want it, but it becomes overkill on outsiders. Plus, it’s one thing if Ryback has been booked super strong and it would be a big match.

    At this point, the only logical result of Goldberg vs. Ryback is Goldberg winning in two minutes with a spear and jackhammer, which is booking for a pop as it means nothing soap opera-wise or going forward and will be nothing more than a moment in the middle of the big show.

    Ryback has lost far too often to mid-level WWE guys, so Goldberg putting him over would both be difficult to get Goldberg to agree to (in the sense it would take a lot of money), and would accomplish nothing since Ryback’s been positioned the way he has. Goldberg winning in two minutes may get a quick nostalgia pop, but you can do that next year. Perhaps if there’s no Hogan nor Michaels involved, the dynamic would be different, but the way things look, why spend that kind of money for something that’s six matches deep in a 10 or so match card?

    One match that was earmarked for the show, Cody Rhodes vs. Goldust, to me would be a big mistake. The two wanted to do the match last year, and even had an angle put in place to start it, but Vince McMahon vetoed it. This year, the tag team was originally set to lead to a split and a match at Mania. The problem is, the two have ended up forming a good team and not only is it way too early to split them, I think splitting them and feuding wouldn’t work now, and may never work. Real brothers feuding only works when there is a story with real meat and believability to it (Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart). When it’s done when there’s no real good reason that people can buy (Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy, and no, nobody believed Matt set fire to Jeff’s house and killed his dog) you can spend months building up a cartoon feud and the people will crap all over it. Plus, both have far more upsides together than either would separate for the time being, and for Goldust, it’s a career saver because once they split, no matter how good a worker he is, they aren’t going to push him as a single at his age.


    WWE shipped 275,000 DVD or Blu Ray orders in September, 2012. In 2013, that number was 303,000. As we’ve noted in the past, it’s a stat used, but it’s relatively meaningless.

    As of the end of November, the five most shipped DVDs this year have been WrestleMania (174,000), Best of Nitro Volume 2 (121,000), Bill Goldberg (86,000), War Games (80,000), 25 Greatest Rivalries (64,000) and For All Mankind (59,000). Actual sales of late have hovered around the 60% mark of total shipments. For a comparison, the top five at the same date last year were Mania (236,000), The Rock (150,000), C.M. Punk (114,000), Undertaker (102,000),Greatest Superstars of WrestleMania (96,000), NWO Revolution (94,000) and Royal Rumble (89,000). So there was more interest in the WWE’s DVDs a year ago, and granted it’s bigger name releases, but Mania is still the same Mania and it’s down 26% year-over-year. The DVD market is declining, but not at that level. Rumble would be down even more since that list shows it didn’t even crack 59,000 this year for shipments which probably means less than 35,000 for actual sales, and that’s a DVD of a show headlined by Rock vs. Punk that did better on PPV than any non-Mania show in five years.


    While Michaels was telling everyone his appearance on the 12/16 Raw was a last minute thing, it was on the script that people saw the day before. It’s possible they called him at the last minute, but it was not a spur of the moment decision.


    Slater is currently on a leave of absence which is why he hasn’t been on TV in recent weeks and 3MB is really 2MB. He’s expected back shortly into the new year. The technical term is he is taking care of personal matters.


    For what it’s worth, at a recent meeting, Vince McMahon said there are no more babyfaces and heels. Vince has for years pushed no strong delineation because of the belief that in real life, nobody is completely good or completely bad. Nevertheless, they still book characters as heels or faces and do turns and such, and the characters who go back-and-forth like Miz end up being deader by the week.

    The company has upgraded its television in Japan and will be going live there for the first time starting with he new year. Japan had gotten the shows on a several week delay, since PPVs would air three to four weeks later so they would coincide with television. Starting with the 1/6 Raw show, it will air live in J Sports in Japan. Live in Japan in Tuesday mornings at 10 a.m. Smackdown starts on 1/4 in a Friday night from midnight to 2 a.m. time slot, meaning the show will air the same time in the U.K., Australia and Japan, which is ten hours earlier than on the East Coast of the U.S. and 13 hours earlier than on the West Coast. The PPVs will be airing on Tuesdays. There is an issue there because the Raw show airing live the day after Raw, which will show PPV highlights, will air before the PPV itself, which kind of makes buying a PPV kind of ridiculous. J Sports said they were trying to reduce the workload on their staff with all the editing they used to do for a Japanese show. Instead of airing with Japanese announcing, it will air in English the Japanese subtitles. According to those in Japan, they felt the country was behind the times in airing all WWE programming on such a long delay. It was one thing years ago to do so, but not in this day and age.

    The reason Layla El, 36, hasn’t been appearing on the anti-Total Divas team is because she is not medically cleared to perform. There are no details as to whether this is an injury or another reason, nor is there an estimated date listed for a return.


    They are going to be producing an Ultimate Warrior DVD this year. The whole Hall of Fame deal was based around Warrior wanted an apology for the DVD they did of him years back where they buried him. A public apology would be tough. Not impossible, but I can’t recall Vince ever publicly apologizing to talent. So maybe a new DVD where they put him over like crazy could be the compromise. I know there was talk of him as the main eventer for this year’s Hall of Fame.

    Steve Austin has no contractual ties to the promotion right now. That also means he can’t use the Stone Cold name, which WWE owns, although he has the rights to the Steve Austin name, which is now his legal name, as part of an agreement with WWE.


    Another name at the last tryout camp was Rick Rude’s son. He was one of the people brought in who had no experience in wrestling.
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    2kNikk

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by 2kNikk on Fri Dec 27, 2013 6:16 pm

    I hate rags


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    CapitalTTruth

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by CapitalTTruth on Sat Dec 28, 2013 12:49 pm

    Some interesting stuff here. I am a little surprised about Cena vs Wyatt and honestly don't see it happening. I am still not going to be surprised if something falls through with Brock and Cena vs Taker happens.

    I don't really care for Ryback so I am kind of ok with burying him, though a one off with Goldie seems odd to me.



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    SBR

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by SBR on Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:16 pm

    1/6 Observer

    In a move that seemed to come out of nowhere, Daniel Bryan seemingly turned heel at the end of the final Raw episode of 2013.

    Bryan was being beaten down by The Wyatt Family after facing all three of them in successive singles matches. He had been given a clothesline by Luke Harper and a double choke slam. Bray Wyatt then began singing, and said, “This is where our story ends. It could have been different and this is your fault. I’m going to punish you. I want you to open your eyes.”

    Out of nowhere, Bryan said, “You’re right.” At first, the fans in Richmond, VA, were so surprised that they didn’t even react. Then they started chanting, “No, No, No.” It wasn’t until the third time Bryan made it clear he was joining the group that the fans finally reacted and booed.

    “You were always right,” Bryan said. “No matter how many matches I won. No matter how loud these people cheered for me. You were always right. The machine would never let me win, no matter how loud you people chanted. You’ve chanted, `Yes, Yes, Yes,’ in this very building I’ve been to, and they don’t care.”

    He then said to Wyatt, “I’m yours. Let me join the family.” Bryan asked for a hand, but Wyatt instead pulled away and gave him Sister Abigail, almost leading one to believe this was a double-cross. But then he put Bryan’s hand on his heart and said, “This is forever.”

    Fans were chanting “No” and chanting his name but he left with them.

    It was an interesting move in taking the wrestler who for the last several months had gotten the loudest fan reaction in the building most nights and turning him. Even with that reaction, it was clear that John Cena was and will always be top babyface, and C.M. Punk was positioned as No. 2, as the headliner on the other brand. It’s not the same thing as when Steve Austin turned heel in 2001, since he brought a generation of fans to the table. The business has also changed to where it’s not like doing this is risking business as it often did when the wrong guy was turned at the wrong time.

    It’s not even clear what the direction is, except apparently as a way to make Wyatt into a star capable of working with Cena at WrestleMania, as is the plan. Where Bryan fits into the show is unknown. It is said that Undertaker asked to work with him at Mania this year, and such a match would at least have the turn make sense.

    But as of press time, the top four planned Mania matches are still Cena vs. Wyatt, Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar, HHH vs. C.M. Punk and Randy Orton vs. Batista.

    It would seemingly end the idea of a Bryan vs. Shawn Michaels match, although friends of Michaels have said that was never a consideration. And it’s not like the turn closes any door completely, since Michaels could do the match as a face if he wanted to.

    Since there should be a major Wyatt Family vs. Shield match before The Shield finally breaks up, having Bryan with Harper & Rowan vs. The Shield would make sense, but we’ve heard no hints in that direction.

    Even though Bryan was not the top babyface when it came to positioning, he had the most fervent supporters. Fans voted him Superstar of the Year, even though he never even held one of the major singles titles except for a two minute and 22 hour tease. But this is one that it’s hard to comment on until one sees the direction it’s going. But as long as he stays in the group, he’ll be the No. 2 guy behind Wyatt, particularly if Wyatt is the Cena opponent.

    The other big angle at the 12/30 was the return of Brock Lesnar. Lesnar’s surprise appearance on 12/30, as well as the return of Paul Heyman, had been on the books for months to start building an angle for the Royal Rumble.

    That’s why a lot of people were stunned that it was released to the public in the Big E Langston interview done at the Smackdown tapings in Washington, DC., on 12/29 for the 1/3 show.

    The gist of it is they could have done the interview backstage and not played it in front of the people since they had been talking of him as a surprise for the Rumble card. The original plan was Lesnar vs. Big Show at the Rumble, but that was when Show was going to have the big run at the top. The original idea was for Show to be on top and going through Orton and HHH, not winning the title, but coming out of it as a strong main eventer to lead to being Lesnar’s opponent at the Rumble, to make Lesnar strong for Undertaker. But plans changed. Not sure it means Lesnar vs. Show is off, but the positioning made me think they’ll end up with Lesnar vs. Langston or possibly Henry at the Rumble, although the former makes more sense than the latter.

    Lesnar’s return came when HHH was in the ring and said how 2014 would be like nothing you’ve ever seen, and called out his surprise. Lesnar’s music played and Paul Heyman came out with him. Because HHH had fired Vickie Guerrero for hiring Lesnar before SummerSlam, not to mention HHH and Lesnar feuded, with Lesnar breaking HHH’s arm twice, having HHH be the guy to bring him back didn’t make sense. But, as John Layfield explained on commentary, the idea is that HHH will do the right thing for business, even if it’s someone he feuded with. HHH shook hands with both Lesnar and Heyman.

    Heyman did an interview saying that he’s not back to settle old scores, and old feuds, saying, “You lose, Brock forgets about you.” That was done to acknowledge the idea that even though Brock vs. HHH was a big feud this year, including Lesnar twice “breaking” HHH’s arm, they don’t hold grudges. But it was more to explain Lesnar and Heyman are back, but they aren’t going to interact seemingly with Punk. Heyman said that Lesnar isn’t here, “for revenge on those who did wrong to me.”

    Heyman said that Lesnar is back to win the world title, and noted that, regarding the Orton vs. Cena title match at the Royal Rumble on 1/26 in Pittsburgh, “The winner is ultimately the loser.” He said Lesnar doesn’t care who wins. They gave the impression that he wasn’t going to be in the Rumble, and would be getting a shot. There is a detailed plan in place to lead to The Undertaker match.

    Lesnar said he didn’t have to stand in line for a title shot. Mark Henry then came out and they brawled outside the ring. The two key spots in the brawl were Lesnar spearing Henry through the barricade and giving Henry an F-5 on the floor.

    There were tons of rumors regarding Lesnar and UFC over the weekend. What I do know is Lesnar wanted those rumors out. I think the psychology behind them was to get this buzz that Lesnar was going back to UFC, so it would be more of a news item and a surprise when he showed up on WWE TV.

    Dana White acted like he had no idea what that was all about, but said it in a way that a lot of people expected something. But it makes no sense to me that Vince McMahon would allow Lesnar to do a UFC show and risk getting knocked out or injured when his WWE contract doesn’t expire until WrestleMania in 2015. Regarding any questions of clauses in Lesnar’s contract, the WWE specifically stated, “WWE has exclusive rights to services (of Lesnar) and such exclusivity extends to ultimate fighting competitions.”

    So Lesnar couldn’t do an MMA fight even if he wanted to, unless Vince McMahon signed off on it, and it would make no sense for Vince to do so.

    Lesnar had agreed to face Fedor Emelianenko in 2012 when he attended the Memorial Day UFC show and met with Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White. That was the meeting where White told me and Ariel Helwani that things couldn’t have gone worse in the meeting. But later Mike Sawyer broke the story that in fact, the opposite was the case. At one point, those in UFC believed the match would happen, but were trying to keep it under wraps.

    The match was set for Texas Stadium, but it fell through when Emelianenko said he was retired and would never fight again. Nevertheless, there were MMA outlets this past weekend claiming White would announce Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko over the weekend.

    It didn’t make sense to me that Vince would allow it. The reality is even if Fedor had agreed to fight Lesnar, Vince would still have had to okay the match. Unless he was being cut in for a substantial percentage of the show, which was very unlikely to happen, it would make no sense for him to allow it because of the injury risk and hurting the market value of Lesnar if he were to lose badly. Lesnar wasn’t at the show backstage or anywhere.

    There had been concern because Lesnar works so physical and Undertaker is in really rough shape physically that as much as the match is marketable, maybe it’s not the best thing for Taker, who is down to his final few career matches. Obviously, Bryan would be the best thing in a sense, because they would have a great match without it having to be as physically hard on Undertaker’s body. With Bryan, I don’t know that anyone would believe Bryan would win while at least with Lesnar you can put doubts in people’s minds, especially if they push him hard as a killer the next few months.

    But that’s where some of the Sheamus talk came in. Another issue is that a lot of Undertaker’s opponents, if not all, over the past several years, have secretly worked out their match with him and practiced it. There was the question as to whether or not Lesnar was willing to put in that much time preparing.

    In very sad news, Mae Young, 90, is under hospice care. Anyone who has had a friend of family member under hospice care knows what that means and it isn’t good. It usually means there are people who just help you live out the rest of your life in as little pain as possible when the doctors have nothing left they can do for you. It doesn’t necessarily mean that, and there are notable exceptions, but my experience with friends and people in wrestling, it has meant that in every situation. Young had been in the hospital and was released on 12/30. As of press time, Young’s condition was described as stable. She can and is speaking, but her voice sounds weak and tired. Young was asked by WWE to appear on the 1/6 Raw show in Baltimore when they first found out about the seriousness of her condition.

    Although it’s been well-known for some time, Dwayne Johnson officially stated he would not be doing WrestleMania this year. “Between Vince, Brock and myself, our WrestleMania 30 plan was Rock vs. Brock. No plans now for 30 but possibly WM 31.” My feeling is he wouldn’t have mentioned 31 if he had it in his head that he was fully retired from wrestling. Privately, he has suggested that putting over Cena would be a fine way to go out, in his mind, but has never talked of not wrestling as an absolute, just something he was considering. He suffered significant injuries in that match, but before he was hurt, he was going to get laid out by Lesnar on the Raw the day after Mania.

    Among those expected for Old School Raw are Flair, in his return after the 2K Sports incident at SummerSlam, DDP, Ted DiBiase Sr., Mike Rotunda as IRS, The New Age Outlaws, Piper, Booker T, Bob Backlund, Gene Okerlund Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty. Punk vs. Reigns is already announced as the TV main. The show takes place 1/6 in Baltimore and goes head-to-head with the BCS championship game with Auburn vs. Florida State, which will be among the most-watched sports events on TV this year.

    Jericho’s podcast continues to be a major hit. For this past week, “Talk is Jericho” on Podcast One was the most listened to Internet sports podcast in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Austin this past week was No. 9 in the U.S. Jericho was also No. 2 in the U.K.

    Regarding the value of Raw to the USA Network, going into the final week of the TV season, USA was averaging 2.7 million viewers in prime time, which would put it at No. 1 for the year, ahead of Disney (2.4 million), ESPN (2.1 million), The History Channel (2.1 million) and TNT (2.1 million). TBS (2.0 million), A&E (1.8 million), FX (1.4 million) and AMC (1.4 million). If you take Raw away from USA in 2013, the station would average 2.45 million viewers, so they would still be No. 1. Also, Disney, because it’s a kids station and not ad supported in the same way, they aren’t considered competition and USA’s goal is to beat the other stations.

    Ultimate Warrior is expected to have an involvement in WrestleMania in some form, probably the Hall of Fame.

    Jericho is saying on twitter that he’s not coming back this year. He has said that before just before coming back. When asked, people who knew about Jericho coming back the last two years have said they haven’t heard anything being said about it unlike the other names who we’ve mentioned in the past few weeks where they have been mentioned as coming back.

    Doug Getz, who was the Technical Director for WWE television shows as well as for HBO Boxing, passed away on 12/28. Getz was very popular, and understood how to survive and deal with Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn in a world where people come and go quickly. According to those who know the situation, Getz will be hard to replace, had great product knowledge and was a fun party guy. Jim Ross wrote that Getz was the best at what he did.

    As the year came to a close, the WWE stock hit $16.59, very close to its high point over the last few years. The company is now worth $1.25 billion and the McMahons are not all that far from billionaire status with their stock. The rise is based on optimism based on what the company has said about the network and the 2014 TV rights fees negotiations. The expectation is things will rise until those two things come to fruition, and at that point, it depends on the new deal and the success of the network.

    Cena, with a jacked up elbow and being 36 years old, did a 481 pound bench press on 1/1, the best of his life.

    Some new things for developmental talent is they are having classes and seminars and treating it like it’s almost like going to college. The idea is they are trying to teach talent to not screw up like people from the past had done and have skills for post-wrestling because the reality is there are only so many jobs and most aren’t going to make it. They are modeling things like the NFL does with its talent. They are going to have talent classes in marketing themselves, programs in teaching how to manage finances (that is drill guys to save during their career and not spend like crazy and wind up broke when their career is over), college tuition reimbursement programs, media training and language courses. They have formed a partnership with Money Management International when it comes to financial planning for the future. They will have classes that teach budgeting, debt control, choosing a tax professional (because talent is independent contractors, they want to emphasize for everyone to pay taxes because a ton of talent over the years has gotten nailed for not paying taxes) as well as helping them choose people to be financial planners and to help them with taxes. They are also working with Kevin Sullivan Communications to teach talent media training (ie avoiding twitter stupidity). This is one that UFC needs to teach its talent because so many of them are weak at marketing themselves and getting themselves over in the media. Sullivan is not the former wrestler but the former White House Communications Director under George W. Bush. They will also be given seminars in injury prevention and living a healthy lifestyle. They are also going to copy the NFL in having a program in helping talent to prepare for life after wrestling.

    Punk got people talking on Twitter when he wrote when someone complimented him about a good match, “I don’t know how many of these left in me.” Punk has talked of retiring young from wrestling. A number of people have noted that Punk talks of leaving when he gets frustrated, but the feeling is he won’t, at least now. Very few retire young but Punk has made a lot of money and doesn’t live the millionaire lifestyle and it is believed he could walk away whenever he wanted to without the financial concerns that most have. But a lot of wrestlers who make big money talk about leaving early, and very few do. It used to be that nobody did, but Bill Goldberg really did, but he was never a guy who loved wrestling in the way Punk did. Austin did, but that was more due to injuries. But Henry, Punk and Del Rio have all openly talked of retiring within a few years.

    Cole and Layfield are having a contest over who can lose the most weight in the next eight months.

    On Raw, Cole and Layfield really put over the Cena vs. Rollins Smackdown match from the Corpus Christi show. The match went more than 17:00, mostly with Rollins with the advantage. I’d give the match ***½, with Rollins looking great and Cena selling most of the way for him. The only negative is that ever since Cena came back from surgery, when he punches on his comeback, the punches look awful. I mean, so mechanical and bad you almost wish he wouldn’t do them. Even though Reigns is being groomed to be the star of The Shield and Ambrose carries himself like Terry Funk, the best of the three in the ring by far is Rollins, who is also likely to be the one forgotten when the group inevitably implodes.

    The trailer for the horror movie “Meet Me There,” which Dustin Runnels has a major role, is out.

    Vickie Guerrero, who returned to college this past semester, noted that she had gotten straight A’s.


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    SBR

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by SBR on Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:41 pm

    --Ezekiel Jackson will be undergoing surgery this weekend for two hernias that have been bothering him for 6-8 weeks. It will be his third operation in the last four years which is one of the reasons you never see him, although when he was healthy, you didn't see him either and he's hard to miss.

    An update on the forgotten.


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    SBR

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by SBR on Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:47 am

    1/13

    The Daniel Bryan thing is really confusing. It’s also clear they don’t have a complete battle plan on what they are doing. At the weekend house shows, he was introduced as Daniel Wyatt for his matches with Bray Wyatt. But on Raw, he was back to being Daniel Bryan, although he kept the same look, basically dressed exactly the same as Rowan, except for no sheep mask and he probably takes a much smaller size garbage carrier jump suit. If you think about it, if his name means anything on the marquee, changing to Daniel Wyatt will only confuse ticket buyers, so keeping him as Daniel Bryan was a good thing. Plus, it’s clear he is going to end up back as a babyface at some point because Michael Cole didn’t even treat his turn like a heel turn. The idea is he wants to hang around with them to become a monster. I think the idea is they want to give him a dangerous edge, with the idea people think he’s a great wrestler but he’s not dangerous. It’s not a turn because in week one they already teased problems with the Wyatts on Raw and Michael Cole, under orders from Vince McMahon, did not act like he turned on friends or fans or anyone, and was taking about him the way you would talk about a babyface. At the same time, the crowd, which was behind him, was taken down a ton and he didn’t get anywhere close to the reactions he used to. I think the only thing you can do is sit and wait. It absolutely could be something, like the burying of ECW, to get rid of unwanted chants after the crowd hijacked the show in Seattle. I don’t want to say that’s the case but it’s possible. It could be a long-term story that will help him, although I’m not sure how. The idea is the fans will badly want him to leave the Wyatt family and he’ll be more over because of the struggle to get back. Of course, that was the same mentality with Show being bullied by HHH and Stephanie, which did lead to a big pop when he punched HHH, but now with that angle done, with hindsight Show is roughly in the same spot he was in, his match with Orton didn’t draw, his match with HHH never happened, and his storyline about HHH buying his house and him being broke, etc. went nowhere. In 2001, once they realized that the Steve Austin heel turn was a big mistake, they would do these teases to where people knew he was going back face but they didn’t turn him for a while. In the end, when they did turn Austin back, he was never quite as over as he had been before and anyone in the company with access to numbers will tell you in hindsight what a bad decision that ended up being.

    They picked the absolute worst time for all this. Travis Jackson of Michigan State’s football team started doing the “Yes” chants himself during a game in November, and again after they scored a touchdown in the Rose Bowl last week when they beat Stanford. And then on 1/7, at the Michigan State vs. Ohio State basketball game, Jackson was leading the chants from the stands during halftime and it got picked and played up big on Sports Center. Sports Center and all media directly credited it to Daniel Bryan. As much as the chant seemed over at WWE shows, it was way more impressive visually at the basketball game because everyone was doing it, and also because it was taken as something significant as a sports story. But this is the time you take advantage of real life and you should be having a change of plans, shooting the guy through the roof as a babyface and getting him on talk shows as the originator (well, Diego Sanchez is the originator but except for Bryan and very few other people, nobody knows that, including UFC fans). Quite frankly, UFC should see if they can capitalize on this, but they don’t have much claim because all the media has pushed it as Bryan and I’m guessing Jackson has no clue it came from Sanchez.

    Right now for Rumble, the only two matches besides the Rumble that are clear are Orton vs. Cena in a must be a winner match for the world title, and Show vs. Lesnar. Show vs. Lesnar had been planned months ago, with the idea Lesnar goes over Show strong to set him up for Undertaker. As of now, that is still the plan. The past few weeks they had done nothing in that direction and from Smackdown the sense was it would be Langston, as Show wasn’t even involved. They did an angle where Lesnar broke Henry’s elbow and dislocated his shoulder with a Kimura, so Henry is going to be kept out of action for a while. I don’t sense there will be any returns for Henry vs. Lesnar unless it’s a TV match to just get squashed or it’s something for Extreme Rules or another PPV after Mania.

    There was a scare with Lawler, who wasn’t on Raw on 1/6. Lawler had complained over the weekend of chest pains. He was in Baltimore, and after lunch, got sick and threw up in the mall he and his girlfriend (who he took on the trip) were walking around in. With that, combined with the chest pains, he was rushed to the hospital and there was fear of another heart attack. But he checked out fine and they diagnosed him with a stomach virus. He didn’t appear on the show, but did an interview backstage playing down the incident, dressed up in his old school ring costume and smiling a lot. He didn’t mention the chest pains, just acting like he threw up his lunch and everyone overreacted since he had once had a heart attack. He was back in the arena at least an hour before the show started but the decision was made not to use him. Apparently talent was told no tweeting or talking about the incident, although it did get out and was reported on by a Memphis radio station and Memphis area web site. WWE wouldn’t make any statements on it past providing a link to his interview once it played. I thought the way it was handled on TV came across pretty sleazy. They mentioned that Lawler was sick, but he didn’t have a heart issue, and then told people to go on the app to get the full details. There’s nothing wrong with pushing the app (obviously they do it too much but they have reasons that they do) to accentuate storylines (although it’s a mistake to use it for primary storylines or key moments in a match or story), but to use “go to the app” for a health issue on a beloved star who everyone very clearly remembers had a heart attack in 2012 that was nearly fatal came across pretty badly.

    Regarding Hulk Hogan and WrestleMania, Roddy Piper has pushed for an idea of Hogan & Cena vs. Piper & Punk. I can get the idea of Hogan vs. Piper 30 years later but don’t like it. For one, it’s a tag team babyface battle because Piper can’t be a heel now and while you can argue Punk should have stayed a heel longer, he shouldn’t be turning back this early. Whenever I’ve heard about Hogan, the feeling has always been that they can’t count on him to pass a physical.

    An update on Mae Young. Young’s kidney is in the process of shutting down and is needing the assistance of an oxygen machine to breathe according to a report in the Charleston Post-Courier by Mike Mooneyham which we were able to independently confirm. She still lives in Fabulous Moolah’s old home on Moolah Lane in Columbia, SC, with Katie Glass (former women’s midget star Diamond Lil).

    WWE sent out a survey to their mailing list and mentioned the names Hogan, Undertaker, Punk, Cena, Flair, Rock, HHH, Austin and Ultimate Warrior and asked fans to put all of them in the category that fits best, which were: 1) Should wrestle regularly on Raw and Smackdown; 2) TV announcer on Raw or Smackdown; 3) In a WWE reality show; 4) Be featured in a WWE highlights show; 5) Wrestling at WrestleMania or SummerSlam; 6) Involved in storylines on Raw or Smackdown; 7) Don’t want to see him in WWE.

    Kaitlyn (Celeste Bonin, 27), gave notice and finished up with the company on the 1/7 show in Philadelphia. Bonin, who was recruited from the bodybuilding world, was rushed to the main roster after winning a women’s NXT competition based on the idea her personality connected with the fans. When she was chosen for the show, she had only a handful of matches and had her first pro wrestling lesson only two months earlier. She was a last minute addition to the show when another woman was cut by WWE when it was found out she had a porn past she hadn’t informed the company about. She signed with WWE in the summer of 2010 and debuted on WWE television on September 7, 2010, and won the competition on November 30, 2010. She quickly became tag team partners with A.J., and later feuded with her for much of last year. She had only worked sparingly since August, and recently got engaged to bodybuilder/fitness entrepreneur P.J. Braun.

    Warrior’s name was on the list because WWE and Warrior have come to an agreement. I’m presuming it’s for the Hall of Fame, but the only thing I know is that there is now an existing business relationship between the two sides that I would presume would lead to something Mania weekend.

    I know everyone expects Jericho to be starting soon and anything is possible, but as of at least a few days ago there was no deal in place. Jericho has been tweeting that he’s not coming back and this year it’s no shenanigans. But he would say he wasn’t coming back if he was, but from the WWE side (which always says he is coming back), they say there is no deal at this time, although it’s not like the door is closed to a potential deal.

    The WWE digital network will not be editing Chris Benoit off the archived shows. The company sent out a memo to those working on getting footage ready saying Benoit is okay to use, but any show that features him will have an advisory message that plays at the beginning saying that all characters on this show are purely fictional. Regarding Mel Phillips, they said that they would prefer to not have him shown but every instance is unique.

    Batista signed a two-year contract. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be there for two years, given age, injury, and schedule, but that is the length of the contract and he is being booked as a full-time performer.

    Dwayne Johnson is purchasing a $4.5 million home near Fort Lauderdale. The home, scheduled to be finished in May is a 13,700-square foot house with five bedrooms and a six car garage on 2.5 acres of land. Johnson already has a $3.5 million home in the area that he bought from Vernon Carey, a former Miami Dolphins lineman.

    Johnson is reportedly in discussions about playing John Stewart of the Green Lantern Corps in a DC Comic book movie later this year. That’s been rumored on some movie and comic book sites. The only thing I know is that Johnson mentioned on twitter he had a meeting in the last week or two with Warner Brothers about a DC comic book movie role.

    Jake Roberts’ return at Raw would seem to indicate a good chance they’ll give him a Royal Rumble spot, which has been his goal. It wouldn’t be as much of a “surprise,” since he was on Raw first, but if you noticed, they saved the DDT spot. Backstage people also figured if Roberts doesn’t have any issues between now and then, that he’d be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.

    Ziggler is out of action with his second concussion in less than a year. He was wrestling Ryback on the 1/6 Baltimore show in a match for Superstars and was knocked out after taking a stiff clothesline. After he took the clothesline, he became disoriented, and it almost looked like he fainted during the match. He then rolled out of the ring. He did get back in and continue, but you could tell he wasn’t the same, and they went right to the shell shock finish. It seemed early since he hadn’t even gotten a comeback spot in. He was in the ring for some time being worked on before going to the back. They put up the “X” sign and he didn’t get up for a long time. They were changing the ring to get ready for Raw with him still laid out. Dr. Chris Amann said on the WWE web site, “We were able to evaluate him in the ring. He was having some confusion and disorientation. We took him to the back to the training room and confirmed a concussion. He’s currently feeling better but we’ll proceed with ImPACT testing and further evaluation to determine when we can get him back in the ring.” We’ve heard Ziggler was being sent to Pittsburgh to be examined by Dr. Joseph Maroon (the WWE’s head of medical), which is not a good sign. Ziggler, 33, was at the peak of his career, getting an amazing reaction on the night he won the world title from Del Rio in April at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ. But he suffered a concussion a few weeks later, getting kicked in the face by Swagger. It was basically being in the wrong place at the wrong time as the kick landed too perfectly and Ziggler’s head was in too perfect a spot. When he returned in June, they immediately took the title from him and the decision was made not to push him. The same decision was made regarding Fandango, who was being pushed to be a new major star, and when he got his concussion, his push was also stopped. There was a ton of dressing room heat on Ryback, who had a rep for being too stiff with people already. Even though a lot of people figured that Ziggler’s crazy bumping style, reminiscent of Curt Hennig, could and probably would catch up to him (as it did Hennig when he turned 33), both of these injuries have had nothing to do with his bump style and in each case were because of the power of the blow his opponent gave to him. But getting a concussion makes you more likely to get another. If a top guy like Cena or Orton gets a concussion, it doesn’t change their situation one iota, but if a guy who is being pushed gets one, they seem to get off his bandwagon with the idea maybe they are too susceptible to a future one and he’s not a guy we are going to put major eggs in his basket. Although with Ziggler, his push being cut off was because they were mad at things he was saying in press interviews. But with Fandango, there was no issue like that at all, he just stopped getting pushed when he came back.

    Stephanie McMahon sold another 69,893 shares of her WWE stock this past week for another $1.12 million.

    The stock closed at $15.82 on 1/7, the day before the network announcement. There was talk, given the “buy on speculation, sell on results,” that the big increase may take a hit shortly after the network launches, but WWE has really tried to position the television rights fees as the big thing that will make the company more profitable first.

    After the poor showing of Battleground and Survivor Series, they are easing up the PPV schedule toward the latter part of the year, but now making it more intense in the summer. It really doesn’t matter since the entire face of PPV changes after Elimination Chamber this year and the PPVs really just become monthly Sunday specials. But the dates this year are Rumble on 1/26 in Pittsburgh, Elimination Chamber on 2/23 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, WrestleMania on 4/6 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Extreme Rules on 5/4 (so they closed the six weeks between shows to four), Payback on 6/1, Money in the Bank on 6/29, Battleground on 7/20 (moved from October), SummerSlam on 8/17, Night of Champions on 9/21, Hell in a Cell on 10/26, Survivor Series on 11/23 and TLC on 12/14. Among the notes on the schedule is the only “short window” is three weeks between Survivor Series and TLC, and I don’t think short windows mean anything when the things are just TV specials as opposed to PPVs. As far as head-to-head goes, they look to have avoided the UFC’s traditional big show dates (5/24, 7/5, 11/15 and 12/28) with the only big show head-to-head the Chamber coming the day after the Ronda Rousey fight. However, Extreme Rules on 5/4 could be impacted depending on Floyd Mayweather’s schedule because 5/3, Cinco de Mayo weekend, is when boxing always likes to put on a major fight.

    J Sports, the channel in Japan that WWE airs on (Raw started live there this week) reaches 7.3 million homes. Japan has a little more than 50 million households in all, so WWE’s clearance as a percentage of the population would be like a product on TV in a station with less than half as much visibility in the U.S. as FS 2.

    2K Sports made an announcement on 1/7 that Sammartino will be in a WWE video game for the first time this year as part of new downloadable content. Others added were Dusty Rhodes, Rick Rude, Jake Roberts and Virgil. There is also a new NWO and Outsiders themed pack with Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Randy Savage, Syxx, Curt Hennig, Scott Steiner and Paul Wight as The Giant, as well as new moves in a pack with Fandango, Langston, Bella Twins and Summer Rae.

    One of the things a lot of people were asking about Old School Raw is whether or not they would bring Dusty back. Dusty hasn’t been on the show (and there hasn’t been a spot for him) since the angle where the Rhodes Brothers got their jobs back. Dusty went off script during his promos and infuriated Stephanie McMahon when he put his hand in her face and essentially didn’t let her get the better of him. But this would have been a show he would have under normal circumstances been asked back for. It was just as well as it was clear they brought guys back for cameos with no idea how to use most of them.

    The idea going around is to do Old School Raw on the Monday in January that goes against the BCS title game as an annual special counter-programming show on a night that could otherwise get destroyed in the ratings.

    Ezekiel Jackson (Rycklon Stephens, 35), who hasn’t been around much since August 2011, underwent hernia surgery this past week. He noted that with the help of Joe DeFranco (HHH’s buddy who creates the workout programs for a lot of the wrestlers), he changed his training from just lifting, to including stretching and warming up in his routine, but still developed two hernias in the last two months. This will be his third surgery in the last four years. Jackson was getting a big push at one point, and then it was dropped. He came back briefly in May 2012, but was then injured. He hasn’t done much of anything since. He was brought to WrestleMania and worked at the Fan Axxess, but since then, hasn’t been used, even though until suffering the first hernia two months back, he wasn’t injured. This is going to come across racist, and it’s not, but with Langston and Henry both playing the strongman role and Langston in particular getting a push and having the freaky physique and giant arms which was really most of what Jackson brought to the table, but having so much more speed and agility, that’s kind of the best case scenario role for Jackson so I don’t know that there’s a spot for him anyway.

    There was a lot of talk about the line Ryback said on commentary during the Langston vs. Axel match where he apologized for his voice being hoarse, and then blamed it on hanging around with Lilian Garcia. For whatever reason, she’s been taunted for years with the idea she’s got a horse face. Be a Star indeed. WWE is a strange world. Natalya is the ugly duckling. Lilian Garcia’s face looks like a barnyard animal. Mickie James was a pig because her weight hit 135 at one point. Even after Vickie Guerrero lost a ton of weight, she was still mocked with still being called fat and ugly, and the way they mocked Jim Ross regarding his Bell’s Palsy and colon surgery. And this is a promotion that claims to have 40 percent of its audience be women.

    The final show before Mania, the Raw on 3/31, will be from Washington, DC. The company’s usual protocol is to tape Raw and a few matches for Smackdown that night, and then fly everyone from Raw directly to New Orleans for the week’s worth of activity.

    In a surprise, the total number of performers under contract right now is 140, down from 150, which they’ve been carrying for some time. So even with the performance center, they haven’t added that much in the way of more heads to developmental. There was no set exact goal for developmental but the number that was thrown around is that they’d want something in the range of 100 there alone.

    A documentary on the life of Bruno Sammartino, which has been talked about for many years, is now complete. There are several groups attempting to negotiate for distribution rights including WWE.

    When noting that the match on 12/30 was only the second time all year Aksana was on the winning side of a match, it also should have been noted that the final WWE show of the year was the only time all year that Rosa Mendes was on the winning side of a match.

    Oliver Grey returned this past week after surgery for a torn ACL.


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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by SBR on Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:37 am

    1/20

    After a week where the “Yes” chants, at Michigan State basketball games were highlighting Sports Center, and attributed to Bryan, who was in an angle where he turned heel and was no longer doing them, he was turned back on the 1/13 Raw. Earlier in the show, after he and Wyatt lost via DQ to the Usos, Wyatt was blaming him and the crowd badly wanted him to stand up to Wyatt, but he bowed down to him and got on his knees. Wyatt gave him Sister Abigail and Bryan did nothing about it. Later, when they had the same match brought back in a cage as the main event, Bryan fell off the cage, hit Wyatt on the top rope, who crotched himself, allowing the Usos to climb out to win. The same scenario happened, but this time Bryan pulled away from the Sister Abigail. Wyatt dared Bryan to attack him, and Bryan wouldn’t, until Wyatt called him a coward. Bryan then attacked Wyatt, pulled off his garbage man Erick Rowan outfit, revealing his red Daniel Bryan tights and he kicked the hell out of Wyatt. The whole place, which was dead for most of the match and really, the last 90 minutes of the show, was going crazy with the “Yes” chants, replicating the scene at the Michigan State basketball game. Bryan laid Wyatt out with the Busaiku knee. Timing wise, the turn made little sense with the fan base as behind him as they were. The plan was always to turn him back as evidenced by Vince McMahon making it clear to Michael Cole on commentary to never get on Bryan or portray him as a heel. The plan largely was in the long-term, as much as long-term there is, how it was originally going to play out. There wasn’t any kind of great debate or big decision making regarding turning him back this week.

    Now that he’s back as a face, WWE really needs to get that footage from the Michigan State games and the ESPN coverage where they attributed it to Bryan and make him look like a big star. Regarding the “Yes” chants, the actual origins of the chants came from Tony Robbins book “Unlimited Power.” When Diego Sanchez debuted doing the “Yes” chant on June 20, 2009, in Las Vegas, for his fight with Clay Guida (one of the greatest fights in UFC history by the way), announcer Mike Goldberg brought up how Sanchez was a big Robbins fan. Bryan Danielson has said in a number of interviews that he got the idea from watching Sanchez in UFC.

    The bad news is that in the cage match, Bryan suffered a concussion. WWE officials confirmed the reports earlier in the day, including performers who said he was not able to remember a lot of the match and it seemed to be a serious concussion on Monday night. Nothing was confirmed at press time past the point it was a concussion, which means he won’t be allowed to wrestle until he can pass imPACT testing. Bryan has had numerous prior concussions during his wrestling career, making him more susceptible. While WWE has a track record of stopping pushes of some guys after concussions (Ziggler, Fandango), Bryan is now top tier and I can’t see that happening with him.


    The former Jim Hellwig (whose real name is now Warrior), the former Ultimate Warrior, was announced as the main event induction for this year’s WWE Hall of Fame. According to those with knowledge of the deal, it was finalized a week before Christmas. It was a bridge put together largely when 2K Sports put together a deal with Warrior on his own to be part of this year’s video game. Vince McMahon did have to approve it but there were reasons why he didn’t turn it down. When Warrior was brought to New York for the announcement, people in WWE met with him. They wanted him in the Hall of Fame and his big hurdle was the “The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior” tape from many years ago. He wanted Vince to apologize for it. Since Vince hasn’t done so, it looks like the closest thing he’s getting is a new DVD on him released in conjunction with Mania that will have a very different tone to it. Jim Hellwig, 54, was a competitive bodybuilder who won the 1984 Mr. Georgia contest and then placed fifth in his height class in the 1985 Jr. Mr. USA contest. When he was training in Southern California, he was discovered by Rick Bassman, who was recruiting good looking bodybuilders to become pro wrestlers, some of whom made it and some of whom didn’t, and organized them to be trained by Red Bastien and Billy Anderson. Hellwig and Steve Borden, who became Sting, left the class after only a few weeks of training, sent photos and resumes to all the wrestling promoters, and Jerry Jarrett was the only one who saw the photos and decided to hire them. They lasted only a short time in his territory because they were so green, but Borden was always thankful Jarrett gave him his first job. After being fired, Bill Watts hired both of them. Watts wanted both to get off steroids and learn to work. Sting stayed and Warrior got a job with World Class Championship Wrestling, where he became good friends with Kerry Von Erich. In 1987, New Japan Pro Wrestling contacted him to play a futuristic character named Big Van Vader, who was going to get a gigantic push, and be managed by Japan’s version of Johnny Carson (a talk show host in the Jay Leno/David Letterman role but more famous), however he signed with WWF and the role went to Leon White, who probably did a lot better with it long-term. Warrior became a huge star in his 1987-91 run in WWF, at one point being second to only Hulk Hogan. Vince McMahon in 1990 made the call to have Warrior replace Hogan as WWF champion, with the idea Hogan would become Bruno Sammartino, the former champion who didn’t need the belt. Hogan put Warrior over, but stole the spotlight from him. Warrior drew very disappointing numbers as champion and within a few months, the plans were dropped and the decision was made to have Sgt. Slaughter beat him for the title and put the belt back on Hogan. Warrior himself was mad because Hogan earned more money than he did. In the summer of 1991, he told McMahon that he would leave unless he was paid the same as Hogan and was guaranteed to be equal to the highest paid guy on every PPV show he appeared on. McMahon agreed to the terms, signed off on it. He already had tons of advertising out for SummerSlam with Warrior & Hogan teaming in the main event and in those days he was far more of a stickler for planning far ahead and delivering exactly what was advertised on PPV. Obviously he didn’t really in his mind agree to it even though he did sign off on it. Warrior was not the level of star Hogan was and paying him equal to Hogan didn’t make sense. If Hogan found out, he’d be furious and the deal was if he gave Hogan a raise for PPVs, Warrior would have to get an equal raise. Warrior also asked for an easier road schedule but Hogan-like money on the road. After SummerSlam in 1991, McMahon announced Warrior was suspended, although everyone figured he was fired. He was brought back at WrestleMania in 1992 when Hogan was under the gun in a steroid scandal and McMahon felt he should take a year off so the heat would go away, and brought in Warrior to bridge the gap. Warrior was fired eight months later, allegedly because of GH related issues when McMahon went through his phase on legitimately wanting to crack down on PEDs. Warrior was brought back next in 1996, and to the live crowd in Anaheim that night, Warrior’s return was way bigger than the Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels main event. But that again only lasted a few months. He was let go after no-showing a few house shows after demanding Vince buy a certain number of his comic books to sell at the matches. The demand occurred before the house shows. As it turned out, Warrior’s father, who he was not close with, died that weekend, and when he missed the shows, claimed it was due to mourning his father’s death. But McMahon didn’t want to use him after that point. He came back for a short period of time in 1998 for WCW (when McMahon found out, he tried to make another deal with him to keep him from going to WCW), drawing a phenomenal first quarter hour for his return, but within a few weeks, nobody really cared and by the time he actually faced Hulk Hogan in the 1990 WrestleMania rematch eight years later, I was absolutely shocked how little it meant. WCW stopped using him even though they had signed him to a long contract. Warrior didn’t wrestle after that, until one match in 2008 against Orlando Jordan in Barcelona, Spain. There had been attempts in the past to bring him back for the Hall of Fame, but he always turned them down, citing the idea there was a contradiction, that if what they put in the video was true, how could they put him in the Hall of Fame. He had also been critical of Bret Hart and others who had gone back to WWF. People seem to think Hogan will induct him. Given everything Warrior has said about Hogan, even to the point of claiming Hogan tried to get him to have sex with wife Linda, even in the phony world of pro wrestling, that would be too rich. Hogan immediately gave the public olive branch to this, saying to TMZ that Warrior was a good man and is happy for the guy. Just the idea Warrior is doing business with WWE after all he said is somewhat rich. But WWE has tried to bury the hatchet with everyone. It was inevitable this would happen at some point. It had been apparent it would happen this year for some time.

    Tickets for the Hall of Fame ceremony go on sale on 1/18.

    Hogan also reached a verbal deal to return this past week although it’s been pretty clear for several weeks that this was happening. Hogan won’t be at a match at WrestleMania, at least as things stand now, no matter what Piper has been pushing for, because Hogan can’t pass the physical, although no doubt he will be around that weekend and be part of the show. I don’t know that an actual contract has been signed, but it’s openly talked about that he’s in. Hogan was talked about to be brought in for the network launch which would have been his return, but they decided to save his return for later. As noted here before, Roddy Piper was trying to push the idea of Piper & Punk (which is why he endorsed Punk last week on Raw) vs. Hogan & Cena. That would be weird because in that match, Cena would be booed like crazy, no way will they boo Hogan, Piper or Punk unless they go so far heelish and even then I’m not sure. Piper had contacted Punk to try and get him on board for the idea. Based on TV this week, it sure seems like the HHH vs. Punk deal at Mania is still on.

    The Batista deal had been in the works since September and was signed in or around October.

    Regarding Bill Goldberg facing Ryback at WrestleMania, the situation is unchanged from the last time we wrote about it. It was said to be close to dead because they are far apart on money, but it’s not completely dead.

    They are also talking with Sting, who has not renewed his TNA deal.

    Ticket sales for WrestleMania are at about 55,000, which is very healthy. The legitimate capacity for the set-up they have at the Mercedes Benz Superdome is 70,000, although they will likely claim a figure of 82,000 or more. The building attendance record is 87,500 for a Rolling Stones concert in 1981, so they’ve got to announce a number larger than that if they want to announce breaking the record. Last year, because there was an event at MetLife Stadium that did 93,000, they didn’t even attempt to announce a record number.

    In last week’s issue, the mention of Cena going from TV in Baltimore, to Las Vegas the next afternoon, to Philadelphia that night, and back to Las Vegas was incorrect. He was not in Las Vegas on Tuesday, as he went from Baltimore to Philadelphia and then to Las Vegas.

    Regarding Ric Flair, it got crazy as the week went on as he took tremendous heat in Charlotte and Green Bay for giving the pep talk to the 49ers. I know that the 49ers wanted him back for the game this past weekend with the Carolina Panthers. Flair had said he was going to be with the team the rest of the way, but the way Charlotte turned on him led to tons of media, as noted last week, including death threats. He also couldn’t go to the game because he’s had an arrest warrant out on him since July for failure to pay wife No. 4 (Jacqueline Beams) $32,352.51 in post-separation support and legal fees and maintain support of her car lease, insurance and health insurance as part of their settlement. The court order stated that Flair is supposed to turn himself in and remain in custody of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff until he pays what is required. Flair is scheduled for another hearing on 1/24. Flair has been living in Tampa (to be close to Ashley, who is working for WWE out of Orlando) and Atlanta (where girlfriend Wendy Barlow lives). The issue with Green Bay is that Flair has been friends with Kevin Greene since the 90s, when Greene started with WCW, and Greene was apparently really upset Flair backed the 49ers. That aspect of this is crazy in the sense it was the 49ers who picked Flair and Flair was flattered by it, and his appearing there was an appearance arranged for him by WWE. The 49ers, as noted last week, called WWE, John Saboor in particular, since the two franchises ahve a close relationship right now. Saboor then sent word to Paul Levesque, who approved the appearance so in a sense it was part of Flair’s job. The heat was tremendous on Flair to the point stories on the heat and people threatening his life ran nationally. Flair was totally blindsided with the amount of heat he wound up getting over everything. Then, when Flair didn’t attend the 49ers game, some of the San Francisco media turned on him. Gary Radnich, a long-time TV sportscasters said that the death threats were just a way to avoid going because of the arrest warrant out on him. I don’t know that he could have gone under any circumstances, but even if the game was in San Francisco, he wasn’t going to go because of all the heat in Charlotte and Green Bay which he had no idea would happen.

    UFC fighter Derek Brunson, who is fighting on the 1/15 show in Duluth, GA, met Ric Flair over the weekend since both were staying at the same hotel in Atlanta. Flair told him he would be attending his fight. Flair is friends with Lex McMahon (no relation to the wrestling McMahons), who is an MMA agent, who Flair met in Las Vegas. Flair was going to attend a UFC show in Las Vegas last year (I think it was the Edgar vs. Aldo show). As the story was told to me, Dana White asked Joe Silva what kind of tickets they should get him and Silva (who grew up in Richmond, VA and his favorite athlete was Flair) said they should build him a throne and put it above the cage for him. Anyway, just as Flair was coming, he bumped into Lawrence Taylor and Steve McMichael, and well, you get those three together and that was it from there.

    The Winnipeg Sun in announcing a 3/7 date at the MTS Centre had a story stating Chris Jericho would be bringing WWE to Winnipeg. WWE officials immediately stated that it wasn’t the case and they would be asking the newspaper for a correction. The MTS Centre web site does not list Jericho on the card. Then Adam Lebow, a longtime correspondent, stated “They have also been running advertisements in Toronto of all places on digital ads in elevators saying the same thing, haven’t been fast enough to grab a shot on my phone camera, though.” He said he saw ads in elevators in two buildings this past week with a photo of Jericho and the line saying he was bringing WWE to Winnipeg. WWE then said no such thing existed and that no ads for any shows have been cut that have involved Jericho. As of ten days ago, a source with knowledge of the situation and talks said that Jericho and WWE had talked some time back, but no deal had been put together. It wasn’t like the door was closed and he wouldn’t come in if the right deal wasn’t in place. Jericho has denied a deal is done, and was still saying that at press time. He’s always said he’s open to a deal, has never said anything about being retired or not wanting to come back. Within WWE, I had people telling me on 1/14 that Jericho will be back for Mania, and others telling me that he’s not on the card and really not coming back.

    Jim Ross is in talks with Fox Sports regarding a number of projects. He did a column for Fox Sports.com, a tongue-in-cheek column about Flair double-crossing the 49ers and going with the Panthers for the weekend game since that’s what Flair always did when he was a babyface. He noted that he hasn’t inked a deal with Fox Sports but they are in talks about a number of different things.

    Ross will be doing another live spoken word show on 4/3 at the House of Blues in New Orleans, which is the Thursday night before WrestleMania. It’s an 18-and-over show because of the venue.

    Ross is also expected to start his own podcast with Podcast One, the same company that does the Austin and Jericho shows, which would be a show that would come out on Wednesdays starting in February.

    Things thus far appear to be positive for Ziggler. He was in Pittsburgh being examined last week after Raw and given testing which seemed to indicate he’s recovering well. Dr. Chris Amann on the WWE web site wrote, “Fortunately all of those tests appear to be equivocal to baseline and within normal limits. His symptoms have improved significantly since the injury on Monday, so our plan right now is to have him continue to rest, and when he is asymptomatic, have him start doing some light cardiovascular exercise, and if that goes OK, we will proceed with our exertional protocol.”

    There is at least talk of unifying the IC and U.S. title belts, and also talk last week of bringing Christian and Evan Bourne back this month. Christian was scheduled to return last month. Bourne has been ready for some time but creative hasn’t come up with anything for him.

    A DVD called “WCW’s Greatest PPV matches” will be released on 3/11.

    Regarding the idea of a Sammartino statue in Pittsburgh that we wrote about months ago, right now that is on hold. The original idea was to put a statue near the statue of NHL star Mario Lemieux, on the site of the old Civic Arena in Pittsburgh (with the idea that would be the place because Sammartino headlined so many shows in that building), which has since been torn down. However, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who own the land, stated that they would not allow anyone other than Lemieux be in a statue on the grounds. Sammartino said the funds and sponsors to build the statue are all there and it’s now about finding a location.

    On a recent show that aired on WWE 24/7 Classics on Demand, there was a Steve Lombardi match where Gorilla Monsoon said, “Lombardi’s rear end belongs to Louie Dondero.” For those who don’t know, Louie Dondero was Pat Patterson’s longtime partner. In the 70s, Dondero tried to spearhead a group of people to buy out Roy Shire in San Francisco for well into the seven figures. Shire turned them down, and then ended up closing his promotion a couple of years later since he was not somebody who would put up with losses.

    Batista and Del Rio, who are about to start a program at the Rumble, started going at it on Twitter. The whole thing started as a work, and probably finished as one as well, except a lot of people got mad at Batista when he wrote, “Seems to me that some C level stars in a B level star era have bought into their own hype. Don’t turn a work into a shoot.” He then deleted that, but some of the current crew didn’t really take well to Batista acting like the current era stars are at a lower level.

    A.J. Lee on twitter wrote about Kaitlyn leaving the company: “Thank you for letting me have your tryout, your first match, your last match, and your Savage Garden CD. I could not have survived or succeeded without you. But I’m really psyched my reproductive organs won’t have to endure any more spears. Also, I’m pretty sure the best thing we ever did were that WWE app fight, Payback and that gif of us mounting each other in Russia.”

    At the close of business on 1/14, the stock price was up to $17.50, meaning the market capitalization worth of WWE is up to $1.13 billion. The key to the stock going forward is the rights fees, as this greater worth is based on the idea they will at least double the current number, as well as profit greatly from the network. The network profits aren’t expected this year but Wall Street will likely be fine if they get to 1 million homes by the end of this year. But the rights fees for TV are expected to be way up, and in late April or May when the announcement of the new deal is made, the stock price will adjust accordingly. It’s pretty safe, if not something I’d be really bullish on, at least until that deal is announced.

    The Ryback comment on Raw about being hoarse because he was hanging around Lilian Garcia had the key people in the company fuming. While HHH in the past has called her horse face, that was a very different environment and there have been issues with Be a Star and WWE very much wants the relationship, (as do the people at Be a Star who have made in the past a concerted effort to overlook things to maintain the relationship) but it’s not what they want on their air these days. The backstage reaction wasn’t so much for the jab, because very few would catch it and you can plead ignorance or interpreting it since nobody at home would have even gotten the remark, but they didn’t know where he was going and was scared what he was going to say next. So yeah, he was actually the real life pipe bomb. He’s been trying to play Brian Pillman on twitter which is part of his new character of a guy way out there, and they are using it going forward as part of his character.

    John Layfield on Raw told the Ryback/Titus O’Neil story. Apparently O’Neil challenged Ryback to an arm wrestling match and Ryback didn’t accept. It was supposed to be a money bet with the loser donating to charity and then Layfield joked and called him Rybackout. The guy is not well liked at all these days, even among people who used to have nothing but nice things to say about him.

    Stephanie McMahon on 1/8 sold yet another 70,107 shares of WWE stock for $1,092,267. There was a point in time many years ago where Stephanie and Shane McMahon both received about $50 million in stock, and it’s those shares that she’s been continually selling the past several months.

    Those from NXT slated for call-ups the quickest right now are Emma, Paige, Alexander Rusev and Lana (as a team, which is a good move).

    Very few people were aware of Kaitlyn leaving ahead of time as compared to usual when people give notice and it’s well known for weeks or even months.

    They are working on a documentary on the career of Regal. I don’t think this is for a DVD release, but instead for a network special.

    They are also working on a Heyman DVD. Jim Ross has agreed to participate in it and will be in Stamford soon filming for it.

    WWE signed five-year TV deal with CTH in Thailand. Starting on 1/25, the station will broadcast Raw, Smackdown, Main Event, Superstars, NXT, Afterburn, Bottom Line, Experience, Vintage Collection, This Week in WWE and all PPVs (for free) on the company’s Sports Spirit Channel.

    There were Internet reports that the Raw 20th anniversary DVD set was pulled from store shelves in Canada. In actuality, it is difficult to find at some stores because the DVD is selling at a far better rate than expected and stock is low.

    The appearance of Jake Roberts was a one-time deal. That’s not to say he can’t be added to the Rumble or Hall of Fame, just that no deal has been put in place for either yet. Usually when it comes to the outsider guests for the Rumble, they don’t even make the calls until the last week or so, because the decisions aren’t made until then and because they don’t want the surprises to leak out, even though they always do. Roberts was telling people the reason Ambrose was smiling when the snake was on him was because the snake shit on his chest and Punk told him and he couldn’t help but laugh.

    As someone in the company mentioned to me, if you are going to a WWE tryout, do everything you can to get into cardiovascular shape because the guys who get tired last are the ones who are going to be noticed. And make sure to get your body looking good as well, because like it or not, you will be judged on that as well. I can’t advise you enough to get as tall as possible, but that’s out of your hands. But do a strong conditioning program that is versatile, in the sense you can run a marathon and you’ll be in shape for running, but this is being in shape for going up and down, so things like endless wind sprints and cardio circuit training are things to do, and eat really good because no matter what people say, you are going to be judged on what your body looks like, and you have to be able to pass a steroid test. Also, for those with experience, think less moves and more selling. Slower will impress people more than faster. Practice promos, and by promos, it’s not yelling at the camera, but story telling. Also I was told that people should either stay off twitter completely, or if not, make sure not to do anything that could be taken as controversial on twitter.

    The decision was made to pass not only on Eddie Edwards & Davey Richards, but also on Ricochet (Trevor Mann). He did all kinds of spectacular stuff in his tryout, and Joey Mercury had told those in the company specifically to pay attention to him because he’s really talented. But the decision was that he was too short and that they already have guys on their roster now and in developmental who can do all the spectacular flying and felt he was just like a lot of other guys, some of which they already have with Adrian Neville in particular.

    Dylan Postl (Hornswoggle) has a role in the new movie “Muppets Most Wanted.”
    avatar
    Slayer

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by Slayer on Fri Jan 17, 2014 7:51 am

    I looks like the WWE is headed towards another generic big man phase. Because it turned out so well in the mid 2000s with the likes of Snitsky, Tomko, and Heidenreich.

    Considering that the king of them is returning on Monday (Batista), it should have been a sign of things to come.
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    CapitalTTruth

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by CapitalTTruth on Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:06 am

    Please release the Regal documentary as a DVD... PLEASE!



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    "Briscoe brothers, you damn dirty chicken farmers, we ain't done with you all by a long shot. West Virginia style son" - Necro Butcher
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    JustSkiff

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by JustSkiff on Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:53 pm

    Slayer wrote:I looks like the WWE is headed towards another generic big man phase. Because it turned out so well in the mid 2000s with the likes of Snitsky, Tomko, and Heidenreich.

    Considering that the king of them is returning on Monday (Batista), it should have been a sign of things to come.

    I've seen other people say this because WWE passed on the Wolves and Ricochet. While I wish they had signed Ricochet, he doesn't exactly wrestle WWE style matches, and to be honest they do have a few guys in NXT that do similar things (I think Ricochet does them better right now, but that's besides the point). I don't think they're looking for guys with huge bodies. However, if you don't have a big body and don't fit in with the WWE style, it's going to be hard for them to find you something to do. It should also be noted that the same guy who passed on these guys signed Rollins, Ambrose, Zayne, and Sami Callihan.
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    Slayer

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by Slayer on Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:59 pm

    It's not even so much that those guys got passed over, but rather why they have been.

    I know WWE has signed plenty of smaller indy wrestlers lately, many of which have been making NXT the best wrestling show on TV today.

    However, it seems like there is a slow shift towards a focus on generic big men. With guys like Roman Reigns and Big E Langston getting massive pushes on TV as of late, and NXT officials being high on the likes of Mojo Rawley of all people, it's not a promising sign.
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    JustSkiff

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by JustSkiff on Sat Jan 18, 2014 2:56 am

    Big E is very small.
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    SBR

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by SBR on Thu Jan 23, 2014 12:19 am

    1/27

    The Rumble line-up, besides the Rumble, is Cena vs. Orton for the WWE title must be a winner, Lesnar vs. Show, Wyatt vs. Bryan and the pre-show match at 7:30 p.m. has Rhodes Brothers vs. New Age Outlaws for the tag titles. A.J. vs. Naomi for the Divas title may be added after timing the show. The analyst panel will be former Rumble winners Flair, Michaels and Duggan. Flair had been booked to be the Grand Marshall for a Championship Racing Association event in Cordele, GA, that day, as well as do an autograph session, but had to cancel. At press time, there were 25 slots in the Rumble announced, so there are five spots for surprises. The names so far are Batista, Del Rio, Langston, Miz, R-Truth, Woods, Kingston, Cody Rhodes, Goldust, Mysterio, Fandango, Punk, Ambrose, Rollins, Reigns, Harper, Rowan, Sandow, Usos, Ryback, Swagger, Cesaro, O’Neil and Young. At this stage, Bryan has not been announced for the Rumble, although the idea that he loses to Wyatt and comes back in the Rumble is possible with the spots left. When you look at the list, the number of viable winners is small, with Batista and Punk the only ones not in the surprise category like a Bryan. If Wyatt isn’t in the Rumble, that means the original plans of Cena vs. Wyatt mean Cena isn’t planned to be champion. As noted, Orton vs. Batista has been on the books for Mania for a while. Everything can change, but the fact Batista came out, directly confronted Orton and HHH and Batista talked about Batista going after the title indicated a direction planned.

    Regarding Rumble surprises, I could see Sheamus and Christian, since both should be ready to return right about now. Sheamus is booked in Pittsburgh this weekend making an appearance at a boat show. Chris Jericho will also be appearing at the same boat show the day before the Rumble. They usually have a couple of non-roster guys as well. There will be a segment disappointed if they don’t use Jake Roberts.

    I’m not sure of why WWE didn’t acknowledge Bryan having a concussion this past week. He was cleared on 1/20 at Raw, although he didn’t wrestle on the show since the show had already been scripted before he was cleared. The only reason I can think of was the fear it would hurt walk-up at the house shows he was booked on. At the shows, they announced he wasn’t there and they did offer refunds, but once you’ve gotten everyone together, bought tickets, paid for parking, very few are going to ask for refunds. At the same time, wrestling walk-up business isn’t all that big and announcing Bryan not on the show may cost a few tickets, but it wouldn’t be all that many, particularly when you consider they were playing smaller markets this weekend that rarely get shows. Wyatt came out immediately, cut a promo and said Bryan wasn’t there because he was weak and a coward and then issued an open challenge. Show came out and they did a match where Wyatt won clean with Sister Abigail with no interference. With Bryan not there, Show was moved from the Cena shows over the weekend where he was supposed to face Kane. In exchange, Harper & Rowan, scheduled on the Punk shows, were moved to the Cena shows and they faced Kane in a handicap match, which meant Kane worked face over the weekend.

    The chronology of the Warrior deal went like this. HHH met with Warrior in July on the same day as the 2K Sports press event when they brought Warrior into the game. It was the first official meeting between a WWE executive and Warrior since 1996. Vince and Warrior had a meeting in Los Angeles in August at SummerSlam weekend. They were scheduled to meet for 30 minutes, but it went a couple of hours as they worked everything out and at that point they started to try and work out a deal with him. The deal was completed in December. WWE is already selling Warrior merchandise.

    The plan is to have a ton of live feeds on the network the week preceding WrestleMania. Regarding questions on the Hall of Fame, which are constantly asked, the answer is that if USA Network picks up the show, it wouldn’t be able to air live on the network. If they don’t, then they may.

    Of the 55,000 tickets sold for WrestleMania, at press time just under 10,000 were listed on Stubhub for the resale market, ranging from $49 as a bottom price to $11,000 for first row.

    As things stand right now, while Hulk Hogan will be returning, and making an appearance in some form at WrestleMania, after being examined, the company made the call to not only not put him in a match, but not book anything physical involving him. Hogan said that he was filming a Super Bowl commercial on 1/16. As far as when he comes back, it could be any time now. Perhaps they could tease it at the Rumble, and there’s some talk of debuting him (as well as bringing back a lot of big names that weren’t on Old School Raw) on the 2/24 Raw, the day the network launches when there will be a push to get the biggest audience possible and probably go off the air with something that you’ll need to tune to the network to get more info on I’m guessing.

    The Florida second district Court of Appeals on 1/17 ruled that Gawker could put the Hogan sex tape back on its web site, citing first amendment protection and that it was news, partially because Hogan himself made it news due to the media publicity it got. It’s the sex tape of Hogan with Heather Clem, the ex-wife of Bubba the Love Sponge. Bubba and Heather filmed the sex act, which was later released without Hogan’s knowledge. In April, Hogan got Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Pamela Campbell to rule that Gawker must both remove the tape from its web site, but also an article explaining what was in the tape. The part of the decision related to the article was later reversed. There’s no way the article being removed could have held up, but given that he didn’t know he was being taped, and didn’t want it released, I don’t see how they should have the right to put the tape on the Internet.

    WWE stock closed at press time on 1/21 at $19.61 per share, meaning the market cap is $1.47 billion and that Vince McMahon is probably hovering back at billionaire status for the first time in a decade.

    Trinity McCray, 26 (Naomi) and longtime boyfriend Jonathan Solofa Fatu, 28 (Jimmy Uso) were married on 1/16 in a ceremony taped for the upcoming spring season of Total Divas. The two had been together since both were in developmental in Tampa.

    The company has believed for months that Sting was coming in this year and it’s been talked about of late even more like it’s going to happen. Sting first had to work out his TNA contract before they can officially negotiate a deal.

    The company finalized a book deal with DK Publishing for up to 18 books over the next three years. Two books announced will be “WWE 50: Celebrating 50 Years of Sports Entertainment” and “30 Years of WrestleMania.” They will also be publishing childrens books on Cena, Rock and other major stars as well as sticker books for children, autobiographies and other historical books.

    Luis Urive, the original Sin Cara, whose contract is expiring, is being advertised for Baja Stars Wrestling for a 3/1 show in Tijuana, which would be after the contract is over. However, his brother said this isn’t true. He then did a press conference saying he would wrestle on a show on 2/1 that he will be promoting, using the name Sin Cara. He’s expected to wind up with AAA since CMLL has its own Mistico that it is pushing and he left on bad terms, and CMLL president Paco Alonso has the memory of an elephant when it comes to grudges.

    Foley’s WWE contract is set to expire and will not be renewed. The two sides will continue to work together on a case-by-case basis. He said the only real difference, besides not getting a regular paycheck from the company, is that he will work WWE dates around his own schedule of touring shows, rather than work his touring shows around WWE dates. WWE had no full-time role for him when Saturday Morning Slam was canceled by CW. He said he hoped WWE would work with him in the future on his live shows. “A WWE produced first-class multi-media one-man Mick Foley show has always been my long-term goal. As WWE showed with the roll-out of the new network, when they go into something, they go all in, and I’m crossing my fingers, hoping they’ll go all in on a fall 2014 15th anniversary “Have a Nice Day” production, even if it’s just for a limited run.”

    A potential Hall of Fame issue was averted when Jake Roberts apologized to Ultimate Warrior. Roberts had been on the Busted Open radio show and when Warrior going into the Hall of Fame was brought up, and the hosts indicating Roberts deserved the spot ahead of Warrior, he said, “I know man. I know that. But maybe they’re taking in assholes and not great talents. I don’t know.” This led to Warrior reacting on twitter saying, “Question for former talents now hypocrite born-again Christians. Where do we go to find you practicing the beliefs of Christianity? Hell? One asshole instills honor and pride. The other horror and pity. One grows wise on great stories. One read bathroom stalls and still grovels.” Roberts then responded, writing, “I was trying to be entertaining with the radio show and took things too far, like I do too often. I have no business inferring anything negative about him. I apologize. He deserves the Hall of Fame and respect for what he accomplished in the business. But let me be clear. There is no hypocrisy here. I am not preaching anything. I am sharing my recovery path to show others what is possible. So no pity, bathroom stalls or groveling. I am doing great. I am an addict and alcoholic working every single day to repair and make the best out of the life I have left. I make mistakes, like that comment, but my recovery has been amazing. Jim does not know this Jake. Without realizing or intending to, I fired the first show and will take Jim’s response without any negativity toward him. I apologize and am putting this behind me.”

    Punk’s three-year contract expires this summer. He’s said many times that he’s not going to be around as long as people think. He’s now 35 and has been working through nagging injuries for years, and is not a spender so he probably has no significant financial concerns. But the number of guys who walk away at his age and in his position is tiny, usually limited to the guys who didn’t like wrestling as much as he does, or guys who have better opportunities outside of wrestling.

    Bryan was on WGRD radio in Grand Rapids to promote Smackdown, and said that WWE has never seen any money in him, and was outspoken about the WWE’s direction of his character. He said to this day, even with the loud fan reactions, he still doesn’t think the company sees money in him, and he said this is very frustrating for him. He said this isn’t an objective business like football. He noted that the company thinks he’s getting a great crowd reaction but don’t think he’s selling tickets or getting people buying PPVs, and he said that’s really about what it’s about? He said sometimes it is frustrating dealing with the politics because he’s not a political person. He said he’s easy going, and as far as being successful in WWE, that’s his biggest doubtful. He said he doesn’t know why he connects with the crowd at the level it is, he said there are guys as good as him who don’t connect, he couldn’t teach it and he can’t explain it. He said he got popular without what guys like Hogan and Austin got, where they almost never lost. He said the day after WrestleMania he lost to Langston in three minutes, and before he main evented SummerSlam he lost to Sandow in four minutes on TV. He noted he’s never been the guy who the company has ever wanted to be the guy, and he said you can get crowd reactions like that for only so long but it won’t endure if you aren’t protected in booking. He compared himself to Clay Guida, who he said at one time was everyones’s favorite UFC fighter, and at one point everyone was rooting for him, but he kept losing, people still like him, even love him but nobody buys PPV to see him. He said for long-term success as a main event star like Hogan, Austin or Cena, you have to be proteced in booking and that’s never happened with him. He said he doesn’t get frustrated easily and sometimes the crowd forces the company’s hands to do things they really don’t want to do. Bryan did say the company has gotten behind an idea from the Bella Twins that will be marketed called “The Yes Movement.” He talked about being in Seattle and how the fans hijacked the main event segment, and he thought it was awesome because it was for him.

    According to the Gracies, HHH is a new student of Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

    WWE Studios, Relativity and Blumhouse Productions are going into partnership on a horror movie called “Oculus,” directed by Mike Flanagan. WWE Studios went after the movie after seeing it screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. The movie is about a family, where a teenager was convicted of killing both of his parents ten years ago and was just released from prison. His sister never believed her brother did it and believed her parents were killed by a supernatural force came that come of a mirror in their home. When the sister tries to find the mirror, which has been passed down from a series of different homes over the years, she finds similar deaths in all of he families. She ends up having to deal with those supernatural forces when she figures out what they are. The movie will be released theatrically on 4/11.

    Another WWE movie, this one straight-to-DVD, an animated movie featuring WWE characters with their own voices partnering with Scooby Doo, will be released on 3/25, called “The Scooby Doo WrestleMania Mystery.”

    Lesnar is booked on the 2/10 Raw show in Los Angeles.

    Cena is being advertised locally for both Wichita and Orlando on 2/1. Given that Punk and Bryan are both booked for Wichita, bet on Orlando, particularly since he’s scheduled for the rest of the Florida swing that weekend.

    When Dana White was asked about Lesnar, he said that they still talk and that Lesnar has regrets of what could have been because the entire time he was in UFC he was suffering from the beginning stages of diverticulitis. He said Lesnar told him if he had ever been 100 percent, he’d have done better. “I told him, you’re out of your fucking mind. You came in here with one fight, and you became the heavyweight champion.” As far as Lesnar fighting again, White said, “It’s definitely a possibility.” I don’t see it as a good idea. When his current WWE deal expires after the WrestleMania in Santa Clara, he’ll be 38 years old and have been inactive for three-and-a-half years. He’s a great athlete but at 38, having been away from the sport, and not being technically all that good at anything but wrestling (which isn’t like riding a bicycle or weightlifting in the sense you get it back quickly). Guys will learn to neutralize his power, and he’s not going to have the speed he had which was a key part of his game, or the explosiveness.

    Austin on his podcast said he would like to be at WrestleMania, to be with the talent, but nothing has been booked so far. My impression is it’s pretty much a dead issue as far as him wrestling on the show.

    On 1/20 Raw, the Vince-ism is that the announcers were told that every time the term Royal Rumble is mentioned, you have to specify it as “Royal Rumble match” and “Royal Rumble pay-per-view.”

    Bill Apter was brought in to be interviewed for the upcoming Heyman DVD. Apter knew Heyman from the late 70s when Heyman was a teenage photographer for wrestling magazines who was able to talk his way into getting press credentials at Madison Square Garden. Apter also had a story on the WWE web site this week on the 43rd anniversary of the Bruno Sammartino vs. Ivan Koloff match on January 18, 1971, in Madison Square Garden, when Koloff ended Sammartino’s nearly eight-year title reign with a kneedrop off the top rope in what was one of the most famous matches in wrestling history.

    On the Smackdown show taped on 1/14, the Rhodes Brothers vs. New Age Outlaws match was going back-and-forth on whether it would be a title match or a non-title match. We first heard it as a title match, and later, Road Dogg tweeted it as a title match. We heard it went back-and-forth during the day but ended up non-title.

    The Miz and Maryse are getting married on 2/20, which is also Antonio Inoki’s 71st birthday, not that one has anything to do with the other past there will probably be major parties for both.

    Jody Kristofferson, who was cut a few months back, is now back training in Orlando. He had pretty much been told he was going to be brought back early this year.

    In something that will change multiple times, the 3/8 Madison Square Garden house show is listing Cena & Batista & Mysterio vs. The Wyatt Family as the main event, plus Punk vs. Kane (so the idea Kane can’t touch talent still doesn’t count at house shows) and Rhodes Brothers vs. New Age Outlaws for the tag titles as the three main matches.

    A weird deal happened last week when Kane was supposed to be the guest on a Cincinnati radio station. Joe Villa of WWE was the conduit and put Kane on the air. The host asked if they were talking to Kane or Isaac Yankem (the name Glen Jacobs used a few years before Kane as a heel dentist that would have been completely forgettable except that he became a big star later). Jacobs hung up the phone and wouldn’t get back on the air. You work in WWE and you don’t have a sense of humor? Actually something like that happened with me about ten years ago when someone at Sports Byline told me that WWE wanted to work with me and I’d get to do an interview with someone (whose name will be protected to protect the innocent). It so happened I knew this person from another life time and I’m on the phone, we ask about how each others sons are doing (this is before we were on the air), and suddenly in the background the market rep pulls the phone away and goes, “How does he know you have a son?” and the guy goes, “It’s Dave Meltzer,” and the market rep grabs the phone and says the interview is now over. I’ve been waiting for the last decade to have a similar story in another form of entertainment, but have now figured there is no other form of entertainment or sports where such a thing could possibly happen like that. The radio station and the market rep ended up having a discussion where the guy said that if he allowed the interview he thought he would be fired.

    Raw will be airing live in Australia starting on 2/4 on Foxtel, which is a Tuesday at Noon time slot. The show had been airing on Wednesday afternoons on a one-day tape delay.

    The Extreme Rules PPV will be 5/4 in Seattle. The Payback PPV on 6/1 will be from the All-State Arena in Chicago.

    Marella is out of action rehabbing his chronic neck injury. There is no return date on the books.


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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by CapitalTTruth on Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:09 am

    I wonder if I should call the WWE and let them know that I am pretty much only going to Wrestlemania because Dragon is now a star.


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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by SBR on Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:05 pm

    2/3 Observer:

    The New York Post wrote about the WWE negotiations with NBC Universal to keep Raw on USA and Smackdown on Syfy. NBC Universal has an exclusive negotiating period that expires on 2/1. Those internally have said that WWE would prefer to stay on the two channels all things being equal. According to the story, NBC Universal was thinking about, as part of its offer, giving WWE space at Universal theme park in Orlando for a physical Hall of Fame. We had reported a long time ago that park sources had noted expectations that the WWE Hall of Fame would be there. The story reported that NBC Universal had not made a concrete offer, but have talked about adding the offer of space for a physical Hall of Fame as part of the deal. Within WWE is the belief they are staying on USA and Syfy and getting their Hall of Fame with the new deal. WWE is looking for $280 million from this deal, which would be close to triple the current deal, noting that NBC Universal paid $440 million per year to NASCAR, and WWE delivers similar ratings. The story mentioned Spike, Turner Broadcasting as potential partners. There is at least something to Spike. Turner had no interest in WWE in 2008, the last time the rights came up, and have shown no interest in pro wrestling in general since Jamie Kellner canceled what had been staple programming on TBS for three decades in 2001. Spike has said nothing public, nor should they. If they are interested and don’t get it, they’ve pretty much told the world they were ready to dump TNA, which wouldn’t be a healthy situation. At this point they are not allowed to make an offer until after 2/1. The split between Spike and WWE in 2005 wasn’t the smoothest, but that’s a long time ago. It’s not a secret that WWE would like to stay with NBC Universal, but it’s clear they are expecting a huge increase in rights fees over what they are currently getting. It’s a key, because the increased stock price is based on the idea rights fees will at least double. The network doesn’t have to make money the first year because they came in and told people they don’t expect it to. If they don’t hit 1 million subscribers by the end of the year, it could be a negative to stock price. But if they get a big rate increase from TV, a fixed income guaranteed for years, that will almost completely soften any blow, if the network isn’t as big a success as they hope. So as far as the two, while the network will get most of the attention and is a huge story long-term because so many other entities will try and copy from the good and the bad, it’s the TV negotiations that are probably the bigger financial story this year. Either way, the odds are very strong the company will be far stronger financially in 2015 than right now even if popularity stays the same or even decreases.

    Due to all this, the stock has gone through the roof, closing at press time at $21.96 per share, giving the company a market cap of $1.65 billion. Vince McMahon is very much a billionaire on paper today.

    As things stood over the weekend, Hogan’s role in WrestleMania was to be the host of the show. It would be pushed the same way Rock’s return was before they shot the angle where he ended up as the referee. Right now Hogan isn’t scheduled to do anything physical and the story we’ve heard is he won’t be allowed to do so based on his physical. Mick Foley was flagged off from ever wrestling again on his physical but he did a limited physical thing with Punk when Punk was a heel. I was told that was the working idea for his role but that it could change. I could still see some mid-level heel running into his fist, and him being involved in Cena’s corner, but it was put to me before that physicality with him has been ruled out because of his physical. But right now he’s not in Cena’s corner and is just the host.

    An interesting note on Extreme Rules being in Seattle on 5/4. Seattle was not the original site. That tells me if they were going to change, it means they are going to build the show in some form around Bryan and that decision was made two weeks ago. Whether that means they give him a title win on that show, have him defend it for the first time there, or do an angle where they kill him dead, I don’t know, but given the reaction the last time they were there and making a change to go to that city instead of run from that city, it’s to take advantage of that reaction this time with them knowing it’s coming and having it work for them instead of hijacking their plans.

    Also, within the company, the belief is still that Bryan is a guy who is a great wrestler who people chant for and is a star, but doesn’t draw money in a major way, at least at the No. 1 star in the company level. Even Bryan himself in an interview last week said that you can’t prove anything, but that the company does need to judge based on what sells tickets and PPVs as to who goes in the top position. You can look at tickets in the sense there are two tours, and the Cena vs. Orton tour charges higher ticket prices (because of Cena) and consistently outdraws the Punk and Bryan tour. We can argue forever regarding his build, and his build to be a main eventer sucked royally, yet if you watched the TV, you got the feeling there was great momentum. But of his four main events, only Hell in a Cell did even average numbers based on the show. SummerSlam was way down and Night of Champions and Battleground did poor numbers. Survivor Series also did poor numbers with Orton vs. Show, and Show was pushed super strong leading into that card. And the finishes didn’t help in the sense they constantly screwed people on them. We didn’t get numbers officially yet for TLC, which was the return to Cena vs. Orton, but preliminary indications were that show beat the prior year by a huge amount. To me, if it hadn’t with the build of the first unified champion in 50 or 100 years or whatever they claimed that week, given the build, it should be a huge disappointment. None of that says with the right push he can’t be the top guy. It only says the chants that make it appear in the buildings that he’s far and away the most over guy do not reflect any measurable metric to the degree of a top guy. Even in the overrun two weeks ago when he did the turn back, his TV moving numbers were behind Cena (to his credit, he was in second place and not a distant second either), and last week he was behind Batista (the novelty factor, and it does appear it was more novelty factor than anything) as well as Cena, Orton, Punk, Lesnar/Heyman and HHH, but still well ahead of everyone else. Nothing is a perfect science, but every metric they usually use to figure who are money players, or who are on the verge, he does the level of a toip tier babyface, but not near Cena or Punk, as opposed to a guy over achieving his push, which is the perception you’d get from TV as him being a guy who the most over guy there’s been in years. Again, with the right marketing, the “Yes Movement,” fighting oppressive authority, it could click huge and I’d have made him champion last October, and I’d build to making him champion now. So that makes it easier to justify not going all the way with him or thinking the chants are a very vocal hardcore that doesn’t represent the big picture if you are predisposed to believe he can’t be a top guy based on the usual looks category. But I can’t see them not giving him a title run over the next six months. The question then comes does he get the Batista style booked title run or the Punk style booked or the Mysterio style booked title run, because you can self fulfill prophesies of success even after giving someone the belt. On the flip side, there is momentum there with the “Yes” chant going mainstream and I’d sure push him really hard right now to take advantage of it. Plus, when you throw in the psychology that those running the company feel they do understand the business and have the belief that fans that make noise really don’t, there is a natural push back against it. It’s just an inevitable part of psychology. This is both the hardest and easiest time in history when it comes to the top national promotion. Because of all the new revenue streams, it is the easiest time ever to be profitable. If rights fees for the level of ratings were what they are, even a company as incompetent as WCW at the time would have a fighting chance to break even. A company as well run as WWE is on the verge of going through the most successful financial period of any wrestling company in history. On the flip side, it’s harder because there is a fan base that is the most hardcore, most vocal, etc., that represents a viewpoint that may not be the best route for business nor represent the masses, which is funny because that’s where the whole “Best for Business” storyline used to get heat comes from. They want certain things, and it can be a Zack Ryder push a few years back, or Bryan being the world champion and top star in the company. And the thing is, the nature of the company today is that the actual booking isn’t life or death as historically it was. The company can do what they want because ratings aren’t going to vary too much if Cena is the top guy or Bryan is, and attendance will vary some based on the top star, but it’s still the brand that draws for the most part. It doesn’t matter who holds the title, only who the top star on the show is. Yet at the same time, you want to make the fans happy, but also have to figure what most of the fans, and not the most vocal fans want. That’s an impossible task to do 100%, but there are a number of metrics that you can look at. The problem is that to a degree, they are self-fulfilling prophesies in the sense the guys you don’t beat very often and focus on are generally going to do better in those metrics. And some guys, like Mysterio, who look great in metrics (merchandise, hero to very important Spanish demo, used to be very significant when it came to moving ratings, especially with Hispanics) aren’t going to be pushed past a certain level because they are seen as being big stars at shows but not who you can build around as a top guy because of size concerns. Plus, with him today, there’s the age and injury concerns and they aren’t going to push him a lot now. Yet at the same time, you’ll have Batista, who is older and has also piled up injuries, but because he fits the prototype, is going to be pushed harder. And right now, since he’s new, that isn’t wrong, but compare the respective pushes for each man’s return. But Batista was pushed as the bigger star in the past, was gone longer and his return was going to mean more all things being equal. The hardcore fans do have the ability to make a star, because the truth is, Punk and Bryan both never would have gotten anywhere based on what the company perceives a top star to be, but they were both more than good enough to be great TV characters, and a lot of that is because they talk so well, plus people know they work their asses off and have great matches. And Punk was for a long time very legitimately No. 2 of the full-timers. Still, Mysterio, Eddy Guerrero and Jeff Hardy all come to mind as people who were not booked strongly, but still moved ratings and merchandise. It led to Guerrero and Hardy going from mid-card to main event and Mysterio having runs at the top that he otherwise wouldn’t have, although his upward mobility was still limited by his size in their eyes. But this conflict between the decision makers and most vocal fans is going to be a huge part of the business going forward. And I have to believe Bryan is going to get that title win, at best because they know his fan base is an important core to business and it’s really not that important today who has the belt. The only reason not to give it to him would be stubbornness or having fun thumbing their nose at fans. But winning the belt itself means nothing. Whether he can be a long-term face of the company and take the spot Cena has is a very different story.

    Independent promoters that have been trying to book events in conjunction with next year’s WrestleMania in Santa Clara, CA, have run into roadblocks. I know that most haven’t been able to find a building to run shows in, nor even get group rates at hotels in Santa Clara or Santa Cruz counties. The one thing about the Bay Area is there are tons of cities in a 40-mile radius. I was told that the block doesn’t seem to be in effect in San Francisco, but that’s an hour away, more with traffic, and very expensive to run in because of strong labor unions. WWE has long not wanted all those indie events that piggyback Mania and it appears that was specified in negotiations with the local cities and counties when they made the deal to get the show. From what I heard, Dragon Gate USA/Evolve somehow managed to find a place that didn’t listen to the unofficial ban, but ROH and Highspots may have to move closer to San Francisco or Oakland even though there are a number of perfect sized buildings in the area that are almost never being used.

    According to one indie promoter that runs, they could have done that this year in New Orleans as well, at least as far as other companies running wrestling cards, because Louisiana is a commission state and the commission could have protected WWE had they insisted on it. They opted to allow indies this year as long as they didn’t run on Sunday afternoon.

    WrestleMania Fan Axxess for this year is 4/3 to 4/6 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. The names they are pushing the hardest as appearing are Cena, Batista and Undertaker, who are being pushed as the three big stars (I presume Hogan will be there but they can’t advertise him until he debuts), and the other group of big stars are Orton, Bret Hart, Bryan, Show, Punk, Sheamus, Bruno Sammartino, Mysterio and Michaels.

    I believe Flair is under a contract because he’s in talks with a local independent promoter to come in and said he’d have to get it approved by WWE.

    WWE will continue to work with Hulu Plus on streaming Raw, Main Event and Smackdown even though they will offer that same service as part of their network. Not sure about NXT, which airs for free on regular Hulu as opposed to being available only to subscribers.

    Batista’s deal is a two-year contract. He’s working a full schedule now, but not for the entire time. He has commitments to promote movie projects that will require him being away at times.

    Johnson is working on an autobiography. He did one that finished high on the best seller list in 1999, but I had expected with his second career, that another one would be forthcoming.

    Marella underwent neck surgery this past week.

    As of last word, the 2/10 Raw at the Staples Center in Los Angeles had 10,000 tickets sold. The feeling is that it probably won’t sell out, although will be very close to full. If they do sell out it’s because they did it with late momentum. Not selling out Los Angeles for Raw pre-Mania with Cena, Lesnar, Bryan, Punk and Batista all advertised would have surprised me. At this point, however, both Lesnar and Punk are no longer listed as being there on the web site even though they both are still featured were in local market advertising, although with Punk it would be impossible for that not to be the case this early, and with Lesnar, the decision was made after the ads were done and sent, but you could argue then they shouldn’t have canceled the date if they had been advertising him for weeks.

    There is another NXT taping on 1/30 in Winter Park, FL with the Rhodes Brothers as the advertised guests.

    Punk asked for the house shows off, which in his case would have only been the Canton show, since he booked an appearance plus went to the UFC show. He was on the Ariel Helwani interview and outright said he asked for the weekend off and he gets to ask for one off (indication was it’s in his contract) during a certain time frame and said he didn’t tell them what it was for. He did say that things have come a long way from when they didn’t want him at the shows and wouldn’t let him go to the ring with Chael Sonnen to where there’s no issue in him going.

    Lilian Garcia signed a contract renewal.

    The next tryout camp at the Performance Center is scheduled for March. They have contacted talent for this camp.


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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by SBR on Fri Feb 07, 2014 12:54 am

    2/10

    The first of the company’s three major television contracts that was expected to be renewed with a major increase was signed this past week. The timing was almost too perfect for the U.K. contract. Newcomer BT Sports, which already got a key soccer contract from Sky and is also the home of UFC, was bidding for Sky content. Sky locked up a new five-year-deal with WWE, which goes through late 2019, reportedly tripling the previous contract. Sky will be airing roughly 12 hours of WWE programming per week, including Raw, Smackdown, NXT, Superstars and Main Event, as well as several recap shows and will have multiple replays. They’ve also changed their PPV deal. Before, in the U.K., there were several PPVs that aired as free TV specials but the major PPVs aired as PPV shows. Now, all 12 will air as PPVs, at a cost of $24.67 U.S., or about half the price in the U.S. WrestleMania will be more expensive. The contract included agreements and clauses related to the network. WWE has not publicly said anything about the network when it comes to the U.K. and what differences it will have. For UFC, in every country, there will be differences in Fight Pass based on the television deals in those countries, because you don’t want to undercut your television partners who are paying for the rights. One difference I would think would be replays of Raw and Smackdown. Sky Sports airs Raw live and Smackdown before it airs in North America, but also airs multiple replays of both shows. I would think they wouldn’t want the network to air the replays before they are done with their own replays. Sky Sports is a subscription service in the U.K. which costs the equivalent of $71 per month, and that doesn’t include the price of the PPVs. For a wrestling fan who isn’t a soccer fan or a fan of other channels, they could in theory get the network and dump Sky Sports, besides not buy the PPVs unless Sky got exclusivity on the TV shows for a few days at least.

    WWE is trying to sell its broadcast partners on the idea that the network will raise the popularity of WWE so that, whether it’s USA or Sky, ratings will be increasing this year. It’s uncharted waters, so we’ll have to see how that plays out. I don’t anticipate it hurting ratings in the sense the key first-run television show and main weekly focus is going to be Raw, perhaps more than ever, and that’s not on the network. If Raw is less of a focus, then ratings will drop, but I don’t see that.

    One of the things that benefitted WWE in this deal is that in the U.S., for decades, Vince McMahon ran away from the label of sports, while internationally the company hasn’t done that. Gerritt Meier, the Executive VP of International for WWE, told the Hollywood Reporter , “Internationally, we have our anchor within broadcast much more on the sport side than domestically.” The value of sports content on television is rising tremendously as compared to entertainment content, so WWE has been pushing that it is just like sports. The U.K. is WWE’s second biggest market outside of the U.S., even ahead of Canada.

    Cena was injured at the 2/1 show in Orlando. He was in a match with Orton and he got poked in the eye. The doctor immediately stopped the match to check on him, but Cena opted to continue and it seemed like there was no problem. He finished the match, did the same match they always do (basically the Rumble match but with a low blow DQ finish, which everywhere but the Rumble has gotten over well). But the eye swelled shut later that night. He was pulled from the house show on 2/2 in Kansas City. He was at Raw in Omaha, but was never shown on TV, I’m guessing because they didn’t want him shown with his eye in the shape it was. Cena is scheduled for the weekend house shows in California.

    We didn’t mention it last week but WWE had another Internet PPV misfire at the Royal Rumble. This doesn’t reflect potential problems with the WrestleMania stream because Major League Baseball Advanced Media, who are reputed to be the best in the world at this, are not involved until the network launches. But I doubt there were more than a few thousand orders worldwide for the Rumble, I’d estimate at most 5,000 to 6,000 based on what WrestleMania did last year, and it was a disaster. UFC 169, which also likely only had a few thousand Internet PPV orders, also had problems with the stream going down. The pre-game, which I actually was watching on the Internet, had annoyances with jumps reminiscent, but not as bad, as some of the bad ROH shows. I heard the Internet PPV was unwatchable for the first two hours for a lot of people, plus there were issues with attempting to order. But the idea they couldn’t service that many people and now you’re jumping from 5,000 to a potential of 1 million all tuning in together during Mania (let alone perhaps hundreds of thousands ordering the service all in the hours leading to the show), well, hopefully there are no problems. I stopped watching the pre-game on the Internet and went to watch on TV and there were no problems at all. TV was about 30 seconds or a minute ahead of the Internet as well.

    The plan is for a one hour pre-game show for WrestleMania, meaning it’ll be five hours in total.

    They were trying out the pre-game show which will debut on the network in March, at Raw in Omaha. Booker T, Alex Riley and Tensai were the guys on the panel.

    Sting had not signed a WWE contract as of the weekend. From the WWE side, they are saying the deal is super close. They are working on a merchandising deal. Right now the idea is not to use him at WrestleMania (which can all change), but maybe have him appear next year in Santa Clara.

    Regarding the Hall of Fame, Paul Bearer is scheduled for this year. There is said to be a third star of the caliber of Warrior and Jake Roberts. They are really pushing for Mr. T, who has turned them down several times in the past. T was the reason Mania was a success. Without him, the first show would have bombed and if that was the case, there may not be a WWE today. The association with T and the build to Mania really took Hogan from being a wrestling draw to a mainstream name, and it was Piper’s mic work that made it all click the way it did. Another name they are looking at is Lita. I’ve heard nothing on Danny Hodge past the idea that it’s pretty much figured if it doesn’t happen this year, it never will, since Hodge was the biggest star in New Orleans wrestling of the 60s.

    With the end of January, WWE Classics on Demand ceased to exist.

    For the WWE Network, the company released a list of all the PPVs that will be available when the network goes live on 2/24. It’s every WWE wrestling PPV (no WBF or joint promoted shows, nor the Hogan match at the No Holds Barred movie PPV), every WCW show (however none of the joint promoted shows either such as the AAA When World’s Collide which was one of the best PPVs held in the U.S. of all-time, New Japan joint promoted shows from the Tokyo Dome, K-1 joint promoted shows or the New Japan Collision in Korea) and every ECW PPV. The WWE ECW shows are available. The Over the Edge show in 1999 that was never released before due to the death of Owen Hart is on the list. I don’t know if they will edit out the announcement of Owen Hart’s death or the ten minutes in the ring they were working on him. All Chris Benoit matches on those shows will remain intact. Some of the music may have to be changed, but since they aren’t charging for a separate DVD, people like Gary Michael Cappetta, Michael Buffer and Jesse Ventura, who had been edited off DVD’s, are expected to appear as they were. That’s about 400 PPVs in total. The Royal Rumble will be on when it launches but Elimination Chamber won’t be.

    As of right now, when people have asked DirecTV about showing WWE PPVs, they say they have not made a decision. It appears that cable companies will be showing WrestleMania, which opens them up for some interesting potential negotiations when it comes to boxing and UFC.

    Linda McMahon will be receiving the Prescott Bush Award from the Connecticut Republican party at a dinner in Stamford, CT at the Hilton on 4/10. She has become a power player behind the scenes in the party. In politics, time heals all wounds, including her desperation tactic in 2012 of promoting in inner cities for a split ticket of voting Obama and McMahon, which the Republicans saw as a back stabbing move.

    There are rumors that Hulk Hogan is in the cast of the new season of Celebrity Apprentice. That has not been made official at this point.

    The company has opened an office in Mexico City. Rodrigo Fernandez will run the office with the title of General Manager of WWE Mexico.

    The White House’s web site, which is a site that allows people to contact the Obama Administration to take action on important issues that people sign petitions for, saw nearly 100,000 people sign a petition that would demand Bryan be put in the WWE title match at WrestleMania. The petition was taken down as this was supposed to be limited to important national issues and apparently they didn’t feel it qualified. Then wrestling fans tried to get a petition going involving Punk, but the web site dumped that one instantly.

    Austin was on Arsenio Hall on 1/30 and talked about Punk leaving the company. Austin and Brock Lesnar are probably the two guys who can most understand the situation, since both did the same thing, although Lesnar did give notice and work through WrestleMania. Austin walked out in 2002 over creative reasons. He had been critical of creative in an interview, and then showed up on TV the next week and was asked to put over Lesnar on Raw. Based on logic as things were at the time, that made no sense, as Lesnar was on the way up and Austin was the top guy in the company, so their first meeting should have been a title match down the line on PPV. Lesnar hadn’t even won the title yet. Austin has since said that he made a mistake in how he handled the situation. The company buried Austin like nobody’s business the next week on TV, which was even more of a mistake, and claimed he’d never be allowed back. Anyone who followed wrestling one iota knew it was inevitable he’d be back and that they would regret the portrayal of their kickass babyface as the guy who ran away from a fight, which is how it was portrayed. Eventually, Jim Ross contacted Austin and upt he and McMahon back together, and they made a deal for Austin to return, although it was relatively short-lived because neck problems let to Austin retiring after his match with Rock at WrestleMania 19 in Seattle in 2003. He was still a huge star, but he was not the same as far as being able to draw on his return as all those speeches burying him in 2002 took the edge off him. K-1 did the same thing to Bob Sapp, who had a business dispute over money and they portrayed him as a coward who was afraid to fight when he walked out, and the same thing happened. Of course, they made up, but Sapp’s drawing power wasn’t the same after all he propaganda of being a coward, which is the most negative thing a company can say about talent. Austin said his decision cost him a lot of money and that Punk doing so during WrestleMania season is missing out on a good payday. He figured either Vince McMahon would work Jedi mind tricks to get him back, or Punk will decide to return. Austin said Punk was under a lot of stress but believes it will all work out at the end. History tells us that same thing. When it was brought up that Dana White called Vince McMahon a “maniac” (he did so on the 1/27 Hall show), Austin agreed that McMahon was crazy as hell, but said it was in a good way.

    Stephanie McMahon met with Stacy Keibler on 1/30 when Keibler was in New York because she was working for VH-1 on some Super Bowl activity. She really wants Keibler back with the idea Keibler would give the company “real world” credibility since she’s kind of a celebrity of sorts outside of wrestling (Dancing With the Stars, George Clooney’s ex). From a WWE standpoint, she would be a good brand ambassador, the spot open when they chose not to sign Mick Foley to a new deal. Keibler has been very careful to avoid any connection with wrestling ever since Dancing With the Stars, and the other stars on that show were amazed at the stories of how the wrestlers had to drive themselves to the different cities and pay for their own road expenses.

    WWE stock closed at press time at $22.99 per share after major sell-offs on 1/31 and 2/3. It’s still the highest in more than a decade but probably peaked off the U.K. contract announcement. The big movement is likely, either good or bad, based in March when the network launches and April, when it is presumed the U.S. television deal will be finalized. The current market capitalization (worth) of the company is now $1.73 billion.

    Naomi (Trinity Fatu, 26), suffered a bruised orbital bone and/or bruised eye socket, as well as a scratched cornea when Aksana in a mix-up, dropped a knee right on her left eye on the 2/3 Raw show in Omaha. She continued the match, working right to the finish and doing the planned post-match, but you could see she was in pain immediately. The next day, she tweeted a photo of her left eye, which was all black and badly swollen, and said that she could have lost the eye. She didn’t work the tapings the next night in Des Moines, and at press time we don’t have an estimate for how long she’ll be kept out of action.

    As a publicity stunt, Foley smashed a television set (a small set in his house), on YouTube to protest Bryan not winning the Rumble. His wife told him if he was going to do it, it had to be outside. He took a baseball bat and hit a small TV.

    Foley is doing a comedy show on 2/22 in Minneapolis, and will be at the Elimination Chamber PPV.

    Dwayne Johnson began shooting a new reality series “Wake Up Call,” on 2/3, which will debut in a few months on TNT. It’s a show where he motivates people to turn their lives around and go after their dreams.

    After being back now for more than two weeks, aside from the Rumble, Batista hasn’t wrestled yet. His first scheduled house show appearance will be 2/15 in Phoenix. He is booked on all Raws but not Smackdowns.

    Merchandise people were told a long time ago not to produce any singular merchandise involving The Rock (he can be in group shots but nothing individual) and were told he would not be in WWE until 2015 at the earliest. Rock had informed the company in August that he would not do WrestleMania this year. But did not rule out doing it in 2015, which is essentially the same thing he’s said publicly.

    In commentary where John Layfield mentioned the long gap between the last two tag title reigns of the New Age Outlaws, we listed them losing the titles on November 8, 1999. Actually, their fifth tag title reign started on that date, beating Al Snow & Mankind in State College, PA. They lost the titles on February 27, 2000, in Hartford, to the Dudleys, so it was just under 14 years between title reigns. From a specific title in WWE standpoint, the longest time previously between reigns would have been Fabulous Moolah, who lost the title on July 24, 1987, to Sherri Martel, and was given a gimmick title win over Ivory on October 19, 1999, at the age of 76, so 12 years and three months. The longest time between any kind of title reign looks to be Roddy Piper, who lost the IC title on April 5, 1992, and didn’t win another title in the WWE until he and Ric Flair won the tag titles from The Spirit Squad on November 5, 2006, in Cincinnati on the Cyber Sunday PPV, which is 14 years and seven months. Another long one is Pat Patterson, who lost the IC title to Ken Patera on April 21, 1980 in Madison Square Garden, and won the meaningless hardcore title from Gerald Brisco on June 19, 2000, in Nashville, or 20 years and two months.

    The first network special called “NXT Arrival,” will be 2/27 at Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL. The top three matches are Bo Dallas vs. Adrian Neville in a ladder match for the NXT title, Antonio Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn 2/3 falls and Paige vs. Emma for the women’s title. Notably it’s called the women’s title, not the Divas title, which is an interesting change. Also announced as appearing are Cena, Michaels, Bret Hart, Heyman, New Age Outlaws and Sheamus.

    Betty White will be a celebrity guest on Raw on 2/10 from Los Angeles. She actually should make a difference in the ratings. She’s doing it to promote her television series, “Off their Rockers,” which debuts on Lifetime on 2/28. The show, about senior citizens playing pranks on younger people sort of like the old “Candid Camera” show, was on NBC for two seasons before it was canceled due to ratings and low DVR viewership.

    When Bob Barker was on years ago, they did a 3.8 rating for him. Henry also returns on that show.

    Tickets for the 2/10 Raw at the Staples Center in Los Angeles had a nice pick up in the last week. They aren’t sold out yet but should sell out, which would be about 14,000 people. The 2/11 Smackdown show in Ontario, CA, which would hold about 8,000 for a Smackdown taping, also may sell out, and Smackdown tapings rarely do. As of a few days ago, the ticket sales were 13,000 and 6,500 respectively. For Los Angeles, the advertised main event is Cena & Batista (which means he is viewed as a babyface as of this week) & Sheamus (notable that he was put in the main event instead of Bryan) vs. Wyatt & Kane & Del Rio. However, with the new storyline change, with Orton facing all Chamber opponents in singles matches on TV between now and the 2/23 PPV, Orton vs. Cena in a non-title singles match takes place on the Raw television show. The six-man is the planned main event for the next several weeks of Raw tapings. The Smackdown tapings main will be Wyatt & Kane & Del Rio vs. Bryan & Sheamus & Show.

    At the tapings they flashed a “Did You Know” deal which noted that NXT was voted as the Best Television show of 2013. No, they didn’t say who voted on it or that it was from the Observer.

    Interesting after seeing some notes on WWE in Seattle on 5/4 for Extreme Rules, the arena released a statement on Facebook stating that they do not have the WWE booked on that date, so the plans for that location fell through. The show will be taking place at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ. As far as any plans for Bryan, that shouldn’t make a difference since it’s the New York market and they’ll be into him more than anyone on the show unless Punk returns by then.

    On page three last week in the Rumble scorecard, we mistakenly listed Ambrose and not Reigns as the one who threw out Cesaro.

    The style being taught in developmental right now is for the babyfaces to get one comeback spot, build it around trademark spots and finishes should be a specific hold that they always use to win.

    As far as Internet character interest for 1/27 Raw were, in order, Batista, Cena, Bryan, Lesnar, Reigns and Orton. Batista was way down from the week before (when Batista was the No. 19 of anything in the United States the night of his return), Cena was the same as usual, and Bryan was slightly less than 1/13 but well up from 1/20. The gap between No. 1 and No. 2 wasn’t much, Bryan was a solid No. 3, far from No. 2, and Lesnar and Reigns were neck-and-neck at No. 4. Web activity on the day of the Royal Rumble, in order, were Batista (significantly ahead of everyone), followed by Cena, Bryan, Reigns, Orton, Lesnar and Punk. By far the most interest of any wrestler was on 2/4, when Punk was No. 2 of anything in the U.S. for much of the day, but ended up No. 6. There was more interest on the Internet in him for any individual in wrestling or MMA since the four headliners on the 12/28 UFC show.

    On the merchandise front, overall, Bryan is No. 4. Cena is far and away No. 1, and Punk is far and away No. 2 overall. Punk is the No. 1 seller on the web site. The two surprising names near the top of merchandise sales right now are Sin Cara (maybe not a surprise, since it’s been the case for a long time) and Ultimate Warrior, whose stuff is selling well both at the arena and on the web site.

    Fred Rosser (Darren Young) was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for his appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres show.

    The new season of Total Divas will debut on 3/16 at 9 p.m. Eastern. The season will feature ten episodes. As noted before, Summer Rae, using her stage name and not real name Danielle Moinet, (the former team captain of the Chicago Bliss in the Lingerie Football League), replaces Jo Jo Offerman in the cast. Offerman is still under contract in developmental but there are no plans to use her on the main shows any longer since she’s not on Total Divas. Among the highlights of this ten episode season will be two weddings, the Jonathan Fatu and Trinity McCray (Jimmy Uso and Naomi) and the Bryan Danielson and Brie Bella (they use his real name, not hers) which will be the final episode of the season in May. Other storylines include Eva Marie also getting married to her non-wrestler boyfriend and keeping it a secret from her family, Nikki Bella contemplating breaking up with John Cena (considering they are still together, I guess that didn’t happen) as well as the introduction of Jonathan Fatu’s father, the famed Rikishi, as the mad parent who is against the marriage wanting his son to marry someone of Samoan ancestry. Yes, folks, that is just a storyline they created. They will also tell stories of Eva Marie winning over the WWE fans and becoming a big favorite (I missed that), Brie Bella, Natalya and Trinity all chasing the Divas title, but Natalya ends up out of the title picture due to a contrived (though pushed on the show as real) personality clash with Summer Rae. Fandango also ends up with more TV time on the show. The plan is for the season to end with the climax of Brie getting married and one of the women capturing the Divas title at WrestleMania.

    The planned tour of Saudi Arabia scheduled from 2/13 to 2/15 has been moved to 4/17 to 4/19 due to conflicts with some of the venues. Cena and Orton are scheduled to headline that tour.

    Brian Reid, who worked California indies as Brian Tannen (a powerlifter) starts in developmental on 2/17.

    A funny note on the tag team division. Clay & Tensai broke up a few weeks back and it appears to have done neither any good. Clay is barely visible and it looks like they are grooming Tensai for an announcing spot. They didn’t even follow-up on a program with them. They have teased a Rhodes Brothers break-up which long-term is probably not doing either of them any good. The Shield is breaking up. The Prime Time Players broke up out of nowhere. They are also teasing issues within the Real Americans. It’s like they are copying TNA.

    Hogan was a focal point and Sgt. Slaughter was in the background in a Radio Shack commercial that debuted during the Super Bowl and was considered by the Wall Street Journal as one of the best commercials during the show. The commercial also aired during Raw. The idea was a bunch of 80s icons were cleaning out the store so they could bring in new inventory. Hogan, John Ratzenberger of Cheers and Erik Estrada in his Chips police officer attire were the focal points.

    The main event for the 3/8 show in Madison Square Garden changed once again this week, and it’s now Cena & Batista vs. Orton & Wyatt.

    TMZ reported that Nikki Bella has been taking classes at a San Diego real estate school to get prepared for a licensing exam. Weird, given her schedule and the fact she lives in Central Florida to be attending a school in San Diego.

    Referee Justin King is no longer with the company.

    Tommy Dreamer was one of the people interviewed for the new Heyman DVD.


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    Swarles
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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by Swarles on Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:08 am

    wait, isn't justin king black ref? NOOOOOO

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by WhoBetta on Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:51 am

    Black History Month at the WWE takes its latest victim.




    Take it away Kevin Sorbo, of the television show Hercules... What are your thoughts?



    Exactly.


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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by SBR on Fri Feb 07, 2014 11:32 am

    Black Ref?!! Why didn't Dave say that. I would have bolded it.


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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by SBR on Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:50 pm

    2/17

    After a week where the C.M. Punk news started dying down, people both in and out of the company are now looking at the 3/3 Raw, since it’s from Chicago.

    Either Punk will be back on that show and they’ll get an incredible reaction for it, or there is a lot of concern how that show will play out. My gut says that if Hulk Hogan and Undertaker are brought to that show (both are scheduled to be brought back to TV at the 2/24 Raw in Green Bay), as they should be, plus Brock Lesnar, that while the Punk chants will probably be there, having Hogan there may serve as a counter. If Hogan was around too long, it would be one thing, but on week two and in Chicago, where he was a star dating back to around 1981, they aren’t going to “turn” on him.

    There was less concern this past week because while there were Punk chants at several house shows, they didn’t pick up strongly nor last long. The feeling is that with nothing significant on that front happening with a Los Angeles television crowd, that it’s a pretty much done situation with the possible exception of Chicago.

    At the house show I went to in Oakland, it sounded like maybe four people who were clearly aware of the situation (since Punk was never booked for that show to begin with) started the chant. It picked up somewhat, but it was mostly little kids just parroting a chant, and not any kind of a protest akin to the nearly two years of “We Want Flair” chants at WCW shows from the summer of 1991, to early 1993 after he left the company for WWF.

    At the Raw show in Los Angeles on 2/10, the company feared given they were in a major market, that fans could hijack the show and ruin the John Cena vs. Randy Orton TV main event, like happened with their match at the Rumble. So the idea was to bring Daniel Bryan out twice, including right before the main event, have him go over strong and get the chants out of the way.

    For Punk, what happened, whether by design or an audible (and I’d be shocked if this was an audible because can you imagine the heat Rollins would have gotten had it backfired and he did it without prompting?), is that during the Dean Ambrose vs. Mark Henry U.S. title match, in the third hour, Rollins got on the mic as soon as they cut to a commercial at home, and said “C.M. Who? How about showing some respect for Dean Ambrose, the greatest champion in this company,” which started the Punk chants (one person said the Punk chants started right before and Rollins said that in response).

    The idea seemed to be that long before the three minute break was up, people would get it out of their system and at home, nobody would hear it. That seemed to work to a point. When they came back from the break, there were remnants and there was a woman right in front of the camera holding up a Punk sign, but it was barely audible and the chants never came back.

    During that commercial break, Lawler made a remark about them going to die out soon, Cole on the headset said, How about “Go away, Go away,” like they should chant that instead, while people were doing the chant. Layfield laughed and said there wasn’t much determination in them (the ones chanting as it quickly died down).

    During the videos they showed during commercial breaks on the show, there was a lot of Hogan and Sting, but everything with Punk was edited out. They even played the ad for the “Best of the Money in the Bank” DVD and everything with Punk was edited off the ad.

    But they were not confiscating signs when you came through the door. There were a few Punk signs, and as noted, one was right in front of the camera shown during the Henry vs. Ambrose match, but that was about it.

    The next night in Ontario, there was one small chant but one can argue the people who start those chants are smart enough to know it’s not making it to television on a taped show. The crowd was said to have responded there pretty much the way one would program them to respond.

    There is a mixed feeling within the company. Virtually nobody sides with him when it comes to walking out 30 minutes before a live TV shoot unless it’s an elaborate angle (which on 3/3 we’ll likely find out 100%, although those in the company certainly don’t believe it’s a work). Many have sympathy for some of his points about being promised things, or the heads of the company being so steadfast into believing that if you don’t have the right kind of size and physique you can’t be the top star. But they argue Punk very legitimately was No. 2 for a while. I guess the idea is that he really wasn’t No. 2 because Cena was always around, and Dwayne Johnson was clearly ahead of him, and Lesnar was ahead of him, and now Batista was being positioned ahead of him.

    While most conceded he was very popular, the belief was that he was not a ticket seller to live shows, and only on occasion was he a difference maker in PPV (clearly he was a few times).

    On the flip side, he was the No. 2 merchandise seller, and his T-shirts in particular are a hot item so he is a strong revenue generator.

    One person noted to us that he saw with his own eyes Staples Center security telling fans not to chant for Punk, and that security pulled two people aside and threatened to kick them out if they kept chanting it as they tried to get a chant going while they were on the air.

    Regarding Punk, I don’t know who he’s in contact with, but it doesn’t seem like he’s in communication with many. The story is that those who have worked with him and know him that have tried to contact him haven’t heard back, just like a TNA storyline about not returning phone calls, texts or e-mails in between shows.

    It is notable that he really did come close to leaving in 2011 and when the angle started, he was gone. I think the moment it changed is when he was going through that period on Raw where he quietly lost every week, until all of a sudden things changed.

    Jim Ross, who had been in communication with Punk in recent months, said he thought C.M. Punk would make a great MMA announcer.

    “He’s glib. He’s intelligent. He’s well-spoken. He understands infinitely the product and he knows how to entertain. He has everything that an MMA company would desire. And I think he would just be phenomenal.”

    During one of the periods where Punk was injured and he worked as an announcer on Raw he was praised for his instinctual timing in the role.

    Mick Foley, another friend of Punk’s, was on Live Audio Wrestling this past weekend talking about him.

    “The last time I touched base with him was after the Rumble and I don’t want to discuss what he said exactly. I’ll just say I wasn’t shocked when he decided to leave because he and I, there is a deep, mutual respect there and we like each other. I would say to him after I watched him at a house show and I would say, `Geez, you don’t have to work that hard every night.’ And he would say to me, `If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here.’ And I respect the work ethic and I understand if you’re hurt and you’re not enjoying yourself that it’s not the place to be. I would hate to see C.M. Punk turn into what I did where my philosophy became, `Good enough is going to have to be good enough.’ And it wasn’t that philosophy that helped me succeed, to get me into the WWE Hall of Fame and I kind of regret going through a few years where things had to be that way. I don’t think Punk wants anyone to see him at anything less than his best and I know he’d been frustrated for a while.

    “He’s a pretty outspoken guy, and in the end, he’ll make the decision that’s best for him. What I said, and I’ll repeat for you guys, if he can reconsider one thing, it’s not to let whether or not he’s officially the main event dictate how good his match is. If he had a big match coming up at WrestleMania, I would encourage him to at least think about taking advantage of that. In 2006, in no way, shape or form were Edge and I the main event at WrestleMania, but we had a great match. I didn’t walk away from that WrestleMania thinking it was any less special because we weren’t the feature, so that’s the only piece of advice I’d give him, not to let those words, main event, dictate how important the match is, but if your heart’s not in it, it’s not in it.”

    The New York Post ran a story intimating that negotiations between WWE and NBC Universal have hit a snag. NBC’s Exclusive negotiating period ends this week and they are expected to be putting in a final bid on 2/14. What is fortuitous is that the USA Network’s gap in being No. 1 in cable has been closing. While last year, if you took WWE out of the mix, USA would still have been No. 1 in prime time, this year that may not be the case and USA would badly want to keep that slot.

    They are looking at really loading up the 2/24 Raw, because it’s both the start of the direct push for Mania (since Elimination Chamber will be over) and the night of the network launch. Both Hogan and Undertaker are currently scheduled for their first appearances on the show.

    While on television and in all publicity they keep pushing that the network will start at 11:05 p.m. on 2/24, when Raw goes off the air, that will be for live programming with the post-Raw show. There will be video-on-demand programming available at 9 a.m. That day, the same time they will open up for orders.

    At press time, with only one Raw left before the PPV, only four matches are official for the 2/23 Elimination Chamber show from Minneapolis, the six-way chamber match for the WWE world title with Orton vs. Cena vs. Cesaro vs. Sheamus vs. Bryan vs. Christian, The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family, Batista vs. Del Rio and Langston vs. Swagger for the IC title. They are either doing the New Age Outlaws vs. Usos for the tag title, or a multiple-team match that would include those two teams, the Rhodes Brothers and possibly Ryback & Axel. It was hinted to me it would be Outlaws vs. Usos. An A.J. Lee vs. Naomi women’s title match had been scheduled but Naomi’s injury takes that one off the boards. Nothing has really been hinted at as far as a new opponent. They did put Cameron over the past week.

    Sting, while the deal had not been signed as of a few days ago, it’s more the WWE side dragging its feet. As noted, Sting is not the priority in the company the way some of the other big-name deals have been. Even for me, I suppose he could do a face General Manager role but given the current storylines, why would The Authority hire a face G.M. that muddles their own power. I suppose they could build then to a Sting vs. HHH match for control of Raw, but does HHH really want that given whatever value Sting has is nostalgia, and nostalgia generally has a very short shelf life. Sting himself was hoping to get a match with Undertaker at this year’s Mania, so I guess he bought into the Internet hype for himself since the company and Undertaker himself have had the Lesnar plan dating back to 2010. The one thing from the Sting standpoint is that since he lives in the Dallas area, he was willing to go with Undertaker and work out the match in private at Undertaker’s gym, over and over, to get it right, which is what Undertaker’s opponents the last several years have done. That’s one of the reasons the matches have gone over so well. There was some question that Lesnar, who is in it because he makes huge money for limited work and only has a certain number of dates on his contract, of whether he would be willing spending several extra days working with Undertaker to get the entire match worked out.

    On the injury front, as it turned out, Naomi has a fractured orbital bone and may need surgery. After she went home, the eye swelled up and got very painful, enough to where she went to the hospital in Tampa and got a CAT scan, which showed a minimally displaced fracture of the orbital bone on the inside part of the eye socket. She’ll be checked out again this week to see if she will need surgery. Because of that, there is no estimate yet on how long she’ll be out of action. It was noted to us that her timing could be the best or worst, but if she doesn’t need surgery, there is a silver lining. The idea that she just gets married and was on her push for a title shot and then got hurt can be a major storyline of “Total Divas,” and make her more of a focus of that show. If she can come back and challenge at Mania, the story is much bigger. If she does need surgery and misses Mania, they can make that part of the story, but either way, it’s more focus on her for when she returns.

    Rhodes has some MCL damage in his right knee but it’s not clear what it is, past the point his knee is in a brace. This came from the cage match. Not sure if it was the moonsault off the top of the cage when he wasn’t caught because he looked to me to land on his shoulder and not his knee. But both he and Goldust were off the weekend shows. Rhodes worked Raw on 2/10 but clearly wasn’t ready. He worked very little in a trios match, and when he tried a dropkick and other moves requiring spring, you could tell he couldn’t get much off the right leg.

    WWE and 20th Century Fox studios announced two new movies. The first, “Jingle All The Way 2,” a sequel aimed as a direct-to-home-video release will start production next month. Larry the Cable Guy will be the star and Santino Marella will have a featured role.

    The other, “The Marine 4,” coming off the success on the video market of “The Marine 3,” will bring back Mike “Miz” Mizanin in the lead role. Summer Rae will be cast into a key role. It’s also a straight-to-video release.

    Cena simply has unreal powers of healing. He had his eye shut on 2/1, and six nights later in Oakland, you would have never known anything had happened. You’d have to look super close to even notice which eye it was as there was no visible remnants of bruising. His repaired left triceps that he came back early from looks just as freaky as it always did.

    SummerSlam is official for 8/17 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the same site it’s been held since 2009. It was announced at the 2/10 Raw show that tickets for SummerSlam would go on sale on 3/15.

    At press time after the close of the market on 2/11, the stock was at $22.87 per share, meaning the company’s market capitalization was $1.72 billion.

    Ryback seemed to injure his hand in the tag match on Raw but we don’t have any official word on it at press time.

    Stephan Bonnar (who was sitting right behind the announcers) was identified on the air as being there by Layfield as a UFC Hall of Famer. Boy did that sound weird. Bonnar is good friends with Batista and helped train Batista for his lone MMA fight. Three of the Four Horsewomen (Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir–a coach on Team Rousey in TUF, amateur fighter and former judo champion) were also at the show, but no Rousey.

    Frank Bullock, who worked as an audio tech for WWE, passed away from cancer at the age of 56. WWE put up a graphic for him at the start of the show, and when you consider the huge name wrestlers who have passed away that they haven’t done that for, that was telling. Jim Ross wrote about him, “Frank was invaluable to the announce teams that passed through WWE as he always made sure that we could hear ourselves and what we needed to hear via our headsets. Thanks for being a friend, Frank, and for your years of service to the business. Condolences to your family, friends and co-workers who will miss you.” Bullock would sit in the position called “the corral” at ringside right behind timekeeper Mark Yeaton at television. He was the guy who looked somewhat like Benjamin Franklin.

    Ross also suggested that both Kurt Angle and Cody Rhodes eliminate moonsaults off cage from the repertoire, noting the risk/reward ratio of it. If the move was used as a finisher in a blow-off on a major match it’s one thing, but as a high spot, it’s something else. The way Angle did it, you can’t help risking a knee injury. Maybe smaller and younger guys can get away with it, but nobody past 40, let alone past 40, at 220 pounds and, with a history of knee damage, should be doing it. The Rhodes version isn’t as dangerous but you need an experienced catcher, which Cesaro was and he never got hurt doing it several nights over the post-Christmas tour with Cesaro there to catch him.

    Mark Crozer, who wrote and performed the song that is now the Wyatt Family theme, will be playing live at WrestleMania for Wyatt’s ring entrance for his match on the show against Cena. Crozer posted it on Facebook, but then took it down.

    Jim Ross spoke to the Miami Herald web site about his being let go by WWE. “I knew that when it was over, a lot of the top WWE officials (read that Stephanie McMahon) were very anxious to get Ric Flair out of the facility. So I knew there was some concern there, but I didn’t know that the concern involved me. A story started out of misinformation that I had been drinking with Flair all day. And the issue was that if they had checked their schedule, I had been booked all day with WWE activities and SummerSlam that had nothing to do with Ric Flair.” “I knew before we started, we didn’t have any script, we had no prompter, we didn’t have a producer in my ear, and we had a panelist that was obviously impaired that should not have been on the panel. So you know that things have a chance, now, to not be the smoothest rides one has been on.”

    Foley on Live Audio Wrestling said Bryan is more over than he ever was. I mean, as far as crowd chants, he’ s as over than anyone ever was, but in reality, he’s not. Part of it was the era, but mainstream, or even among wrestling fans, Foley was far more over, selling tickets, moving ratings, PPVs, any measure you want, than Bryan. Bryan may be closer to the top because there are no Rock’s and Austin’s, but the No. 2 or 3 guy today isn’t close to even the No. 6 or No. 7 guy in 2000.

    Foley was called this past week to be involved in company activities in New Orleans the week of Mania, being part of several events.

    At Raw in Los Angeles, they were once again doing a test for the pre-game and post-game shows for when the network opens, with Booker T, Josh Matthews and Matt Bloom as Tensai as the hosts. It looks like Bloom is done as a wrestler and is being groomed to be an announcer. He’s not ready yet but he’s just starting and it’s not like he’s bad, and he comes across as having a good knowledge of wrestling and being able to discuss it in a fan friendly manner. Still, by far the best guy they’ve got for that role is Regal, and he’s being used less and less in NXT, and is likely to never get a shot for a main roster show. And when it comes to an announcer, age shouldn’t be a factor as much as ability to tell stories and get talent over.

    Flair has signed a new contract with WWE. All his appearances and business deals have to be cleared by the office, which means he’s not going to be able to take some things he’s gotten in the past, and companies that don’t like having to deal with WWE aren’t going to be happy. He can be booked apart from WWE, but in every deal they insist on a clause that if WWE calls and needs him for anything (such as recently when he had a gig at an auto race in Georgia and got pulled by WWE at the last minute), then everything is off. That makes booking him risky, because it’s a high dollar deal, $10,000 or more for an appearance, plus advertising, trans, hotels, and within the contract it can be pulled at the last minute by WWE.

    Van Dam was at the 2/10 Raw show backstage. He came for a meeting with HHH. He wrote on twitter that he’s interested in coming back. Not sure how WWE views it. We know they weren’t happy about him leaving, even though his deal he signed over the summer was a 90-day contract, he fulfilled it, didn’t complain about being buried at the end, but WWE wasn’t happy that he wouldn’t sign a new deal at the time. WWE didn’t bring back Jericho this year either. On the Jericho side, there was talk in 2013 of him coming back as usual for the first several months of 2014. The issues that kept them apart were more creative, as I didn’t sense financial played into it.

    Lita (Amy Dumas, 38), was announced as the third person in this year’s WWE Hall of Fame class. She was working in some bands and taking judo and then got interested in pro wrestling watching Nitro. She found out she could learn in Mexico so went there in 1998, where she’d work at clubs while learning to wrestle and stared with EMLL (now CMLL). She met the Hardys at Carolina indie shows, and in 1999 was introduced to Paul Heyman, who hired her. Her role was to play a skank, who would use the name Miss Congeniality, which was a spoof on beauty contest contestants because she was made up like a crack whore. She wasn’t wrestling at the time, just being there as Danny Doring’s girlfriend. At the same time, she started training at Dory Funk Jr.’s school in Ocala, FL. The Funks recommended her to Jim Ross, and she was signed in late 1999. She was working in the Memphis developmental territory, before first being brought up as part of an act of Essa Rios (a high flying Mexican wrestler who is now Mr. Aguila in CMLL) & Lita. That act was really going nowhere, and WWF lost interest in pushing Rios. They split them up and put her with the Hardys and Team Extreme. She wasn’t really a good worker, but she could do moonsaults and huracaranas, so people thought she was. On August 21, 2000, she and Stephanie McMahon main evented an episode of Raw, and drew a big quarter hour as Lita won the Women’s title with The Rock as referee. She later feuded with Dean Malenko and she became linked in both storyline and real life with Matt Hardy. She suffered a broken neck while working on a fight scene for a TV show called “Dark Angel” (which later became the ring name of Sarah Stock in Mexico) in 2002, needed surgery and was out a year-and-a-half. She did a number of angles including being pregnant and marrying Kane, and then losing the baby due to Snitsky. Eventually in real life, when she was living with Hardy, Hardy found out she had a private cell phone and she was sneaking around with Adam Copeland (Edge), who was one of Hardy’s best friends. Hardy and Lita broke up for real. Hardy got so mad, but Edge was the bigger star, and Hardy wound up being fired. Hardy made so much noise about it that Jim Ross got them to agree to work together as professionals and do a feud. This led to Edge & Lita being put together and really that was the period where Edge grew to being a main event heel in 2006. Shortly after her rival Trish Stratus retired, she decided not to sign a new contract and finished up in November, 2006. She formed a punk rock band called the Luchagors and has made a few TV appearances from time-to-time on WWE shows.

    Cyndi Lauper’s name has also been up for discussion regarding the Hall of Fame this year. It would make sense with Hogan and Piper in the fold to honor Lauper and Mr. T, because they were the ones who took both of them to new levels of exposure and popularity and were the keys in the first WrestleMania clicking. The idea of two celebrities in one year would be overkill, but as the 30th WrestleMania, it would make sense if they could pull it off. The word in WWE is that Mr. T has agreed to go in this year, so we’ll see.

    WWE is looking at both getting into the podcasting business with the success of Austin and Jericho’s shows that they aren’t a part of, and is also looking at doing touring talk shows in comedy clubs after the success Foley has had.

    At the Smackdown tapings in Ontario on 2/11, HHH announced the Hall of Fame ceremony would air in its entirety live on the WWE Network.

    In a scheduling surprise, the WWE has a house show on 3/16 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. That’s the day after the Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler UFC match that is almost sold out with 14,000 paid and $2.2 million as a first weekend advance.

    Batista will start wrestling at the house shows this weekend.

    Over the Edge, the 1999 PPV show where Owen Hart died, on the network, the company didn’t make the decision until the last few weeks, and the show will be edited so the stuff referencing Owen Hart won’t be airing.

    The decision has been made that from this point forward, Cesaro has no first name. He is just “Cesaro.” Please don’t ask me to explain this past the point it’s Vince.

    Also, Langston from this point forward was decreed to have no last name. He is supposed to be referred to only as Big E.

    One note on the Mania payoffs and the payoffs on the shows that Lesnar and Dwayne Johnson appeared on. The money that the wrestlers make on PPVs is a certain percentage earmarked for talent, which the payoff person, who is currently Sean Cleary (who took the spot of Jane Geddes when Geddes was moved from talent relations to working in HHH’s office in Stamford) figures out. I’m guessing it’s a straight percentage formula. When wrestling people like Pat Patterson, J.J. Dillon or Jim Ross did it, there was a lot of instinct involved which over the years did lead to issues when you had two guys in the same match and one (the clear star) would make more, and sometimes tons more, than the other. That still happens, such as Undertaker making more than Punk at last year’s Mania. However, Lesnar and Johnson, as special guests, are paid differently and their money isn’t taken out of the talent payment side. In other words, if we were to say (and these figures are hypothetical) the money talent would have gotten paid at last year’s Mania was $3 million total, and Johnson’s deal is $1.5 million or $2 million (which itself isn’t that far from the number), it’s not like everyone else has to share in $1.0 to $1.5 million and thus having the big star there cuts back their payoffs. Instead, because the PPVs were higher with him (the live gate really was going to be the same either way), the total that the wrestlers earned would be higher because he was on the show. Because of the rise in price, it would be higher than the previous year even though the previous year did more buys. Now, if a guy was high on the show in 2012 and low in 2013, he could make less, but the total pay for talent is up on these shows with the guest stars who actually add to buys. Obviously, when it comes to SummerSlam, which did great in 2012 and not so great in 2013, that would not be the case.

    Michael Cole worked the 2/3 Raw just days after the death of his father, Thomas Coulthard of Hudson, FL. Coulthard, a U.S State Trooper in Millbrook, NY, for 26 years, passed away due to cancer at the age of 74.

    There is already talk of a “Guardians of the Galaxy” sequel that would come out on May 6, 2016. Batista plays “Drax the Destroyer” in the first one, which is scheduled for an 8/1 release.

    A correction from last week. In NXT, the women’s title has always been called the women’s title. It was the FCW women’s title that was called the Divas title.

    As far as weekly Internet scores of interest coming off the 2/3 show where you had less in the way of star power than the previous weeks, Dave Batista was still No. 1 with a score of 4,000 (well down from the previous two weeks) with Randy Orton second at 3,400, Daniel Bryan at 3,000, HHH at 2,600, Stephanie McMahon at 2,000, and Roman Reigns at 1,600.

    Stuart Tomlinson, a former underwear model and soccer goalkeeper from the U.K., in developmental, worked as a male escort as well according to testimony in a lawsuit. It started with a lawsuit filed by Kerry Miller, 46, who claimed sexual discrimination and sexual harassment in a suit against the Burton Albion football club. In trying to discredit her, the team claimed she would come into the dressing room while players were coming out of the shower and sent pictures of herself wearing underwear to a 23-year-old player on the team. Later another player said she texted him a topless photo and he texted her back a photo of himself with no clothes on. During the trial there was testimony of a relationship between Miller and Tomlinson, a goal keeper who is a bodybuilder type who looks like a guy who would be on the cover of a Men’s Fitness type magazine. Testimony in the trial claimed the two were together in late 2012. She had a Facebook photo with Tomlinson supposedly on a date after a big game. Tomlinson quit soccer after a bad knee injury in 2013 and tried to get into WWE. Ben Robinson, the team’s chairman, noted Tomlinson worked as a part-time male escort during the time he spent with the team.

    Shane McMahon currently owns 1,541,224 shares of WWE stock which is worth more than $35 million. With all of her sales in the last year, Stephanie McMahon owns 661,678 shares, worth more than $14 million.

    Regarding Nikki Bella taking real estate courses in San Diego, every state has difference real estate licensing requirements. Most don’t recognize licenses from other states. Some states do have licensing reciprocity, meaning if you have a license in one state you can do work in another. However, there is no such agreement between California (where she is taking the classes) and Florida (where she currently lives).

    Lawler worked a match on 2/8 in Joppatowne, MD, for Maryland Championship Wrestling on 2/8, pinning local wrestler Shawn Patrick on a show that drew 750 fans with both Mickie James and Angelina Love as the other name wrestlers appearing.

    Sami Zayn returned after his knee injury on 2/7 with a win over C.J. Parker in Crystal River, FL.

    Both Layla El and Richie Steamboat are still under contract to the company. There have been reports, which make sense since Steamboat hasn’t been around since late 2012, that he was cut, but he’s out with a back injury that could be career ending. Layla has been dealing with personal issues.

    Ray Leppan from South Africa, 34, in developmental for years as Leo Kruger, who recently changed his name to Adam Rose, playing a party type of guy, was noted by Adam Rose, an actor and film maker. He wrote, “So a pro wrestler named Leo Kruger changed his name to Adam Rose and started using the hashtag #Rosebuds. Why’d it have to be a wrestler?” The hashtag #Rosebuds had been used by Buzz TV’s Christian Rosenberg (real name Josh Tariff), who started with the station in 2013 and does a podcast after Smackdown and has worked indies in Southern California for eight years. He wrote: “And my gimmick has been stolen. Letting everyone know I’m not mad at him. He’s a great talent and I enjoy his work. Just some things about this business just anger you.”

    While it’s not a lock, there has been talk seriously of both Kevin Steen and Michael Elgin being invited to a talent evaluation camp. Steen has known about this for some time and the feeling is that if he shows up out of shape, they’ll look down on him a lot. A few years ago, when Takeshi Morishima worked a dark match, and with his flying around at 330 pounds, even though nobody knew him, his match got over pretty big. WWE, however, including Vince McMahon, felt it almost as a sign of disrespect that a guy would come to get a WWE tryout in the shape he was in. Those who have been at camps and noted that they start off testing conditioning making you do stuff designed to blow you up to see who can gut it out the longest, with the idea they can tell from that who wants it the most, feel Steen will need a miracle to get through that aspect of the process. I’ve also had guys question that process, noting that a lot of guys on the main roster, if they were put through that, could never pass it either and some have been solid money drawing stars. WCW did that to Dave Bautista before he ever signed with WWE, and he became one of the biggest stars of the last decade.
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    Swarles
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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by Swarles on Thu Feb 13, 2014 4:12 pm

    Come on Kevin, put the down the poutine and get a contract.

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    JustSkiff

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by JustSkiff on Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:07 pm

    Shawn Patrick is my boy.
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    CapitalTTruth

    Posts : 584
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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by CapitalTTruth on Thu Feb 13, 2014 7:43 pm

    I almost want them to do Sting v Taker more so we don't have to hear this stuff next year than anything else.

    Also, the idea that they were mad at Morishima came in big is actual laugh out loud funny to me.


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    WhoBetta

    Posts : 465
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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by WhoBetta on Thu Feb 13, 2014 9:23 pm

    SBR wrote:
    Lita (Amy Dumas, 38), was announced as the third person in this year’s WWE Hall of Fame class. She was working in some bands and taking judo and then got interested in pro wrestling watching Nitro. She found out she could learn in Mexico so went there in 1998, where she’d work at clubs while learning to wrestle and stared with EMLL (now CMLL). She met the Hardys at Carolina indie shows, and in 1999 was introduced to Paul Heyman, who hired her. Her role was to play a skank, who would use the name Miss Congeniality, which was a spoof on beauty contest contestants because she was made up like a crack whore. She wasn’t wrestling at the time, just being there as Danny Doring’s girlfriend. At the same time, she started training at Dory Funk Jr.’s school in Ocala, FL. The Funks recommended her to Jim Ross, and she was signed in late 1999. She was working in the Memphis developmental territory, before first being brought up as part of an act of Essa Rios (a high flying Mexican wrestler who is now Mr. Aguila in CMLL) & Lita. That act was really going nowhere, and WWF lost interest in pushing Rios. They split them up and put her with the Hardys and Team Extreme. She wasn’t really a good worker, but she could do moonsaults and huracaranas, so people thought she was. On August 21, 2000, she and Stephanie McMahon main evented an episode of Raw, and drew a big quarter hour as Lita won the Women’s title with The Rock as referee. She later feuded with Dean Malenko and she became linked in both storyline and real life with Matt Hardy. She suffered a broken neck while working on a fight scene for a TV show called “Dark Angel” (which later became the ring name of Sarah Stock in Mexico) in 2002, needed surgery and was out a year-and-a-half. She did a number of angles including being pregnant and marrying Kane, and then losing the baby due to Snitsky. Eventually in real life, when she was living with Hardy, Hardy found out she had a private cell phone and she was sneaking around with Adam Copeland (Edge), who was one of Hardy’s best friends. Hardy and Lita broke up for real. Hardy got so mad, but Edge was the bigger star, and Hardy wound up being fired. Hardy made so much noise about it that Jim Ross got them to agree to work together as professionals and do a feud. This led to Edge & Lita being put together and really that was the period where Edge grew to being a main event heel in 2006. Shortly after her rival Trish Stratus retired, she decided not to sign a new contract and finished up in November, 2006. She formed a punk rock band called the Luchagors and has made a few TV appearances from time-to-time on WWE shows.

    Who wrote this paragraph? A 12 year old?


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    TeeBeeKay

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    Re: WWE Observer news

    Post by TeeBeeKay on Thu Feb 13, 2014 9:32 pm

    Look, I love Kevin, and would be thrilled if he got a contract but let's be honest, it's not going to happen.

    His promos almost always use cursing, he has a pretty physical, rough style, and even if he drops some weight he still doesn't have a WWE look

    I just don't see what they would do with him


    I really hope I'm wrong, because I love Kevin and nobody deserves it more than that guy IMO, but I just don't see it

    Now having said that he did post a picture of himself at a gym the other day, he said he was thinking about going to calgary and training with Lance for a few days to brush up on some basics, and did say on the Kevin Steen show his ROH contract was up in August and he wanted to get serious about a WWE run, so who knows.

    Best of luck, but I'd be surprised if he got it

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    Re: WWE Observer news

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