Partial Source: The Wrestling Observer Newsletter
Here’s what’s been hitting the headlines in the world of professional wrestling this week:
Although MVP has already debuted on TNA TV, word from within TNA is that MVP actually hasn’t signed a contract as of yet and has been working on a simple verbal agreement. It’s expected he will sign shortly. Questions have been asked about why he can use the name MVP when he used it in WWE. The simple fact is that it’s his gimmick. He came up with it, he trademarked it and was able to convince WWE to let him use it. This mean he’s able to take the gimmick with him wherever he goes. Smart man.
Kurt Angle is hinting more and more that he may want to return to WWE. This is assuming WWE would have him back of course (his biggest problems would be if he could pass their physical testing). Angle has been quite vocal about WWE as of late, saying he’d love to have matches with Daniel Bryan and CM Punk and more recently he took to twitter to praise the match between Bryan and Randy Orton.
— Kurt Angle (@RealKurtAngle) February 4, 2014
TNA’s UK tour was said to be the best ever in terms of locker room morale, but the most gruelling ever in terms of schedule. Although numbers are down in the UK on last year, they’re still much higher than they are in the US. The Wrestling Mania was in attendance for the 2 episodes of IMPACT they filmed in Manchester and although there were quite a lot of empty seats, the crowd were red hot. Samoa Joe gave a pretty emotional speech on the bus back to the hotel about how this was his toughest tour, but the tour had no prima donnas, no complainers and no whiners and how proud he was of everyone. The wrestlers were chanting “Joe, Joe, Joe” when the speech was over. If TNA can get past their financial struggles and draw more fans at home, they might just turn a corner.
In a correction from last week, Sting had NOT signed a WWE contract as of the weekend. From the WWE side, they are saying the deal is super close and is as good as done. 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 (We try not to speculate here at TWM, but we can’t help but think it might be Scott Hall). They are also really pushing for Mr. T, who has turned them down several times in the past. T was the reason the first WrestleMania 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.
With the impending launch of the WWE Network, as of 31st January WWE Classics on Demand no longer exists. Speaking of the Network, the company released a list of all the PPVs that will be available when the network goes live on 24th February (Just 18 days! Excited yet?). 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. We 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. That’s about 400 PPVs in total. The Royal Rumble will be on when it launches but Elimination Chamber won’t be.
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.
Stephanie McMahon met with Stacy Keibler on 30th January 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.
The first NXT WWE Network special called “NXT Arrival,” will be 27th February 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 John Cena, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Payl Heyman, The New Age Outlaws and Sheamus.
Not much has changed on the CM Punk front over the past week. There have been numerous reports as to why Punk walked out including him not being happy at being booked in a match with Triple H at WrestleMania and other reports that he was unhappy about Batista returning and immediately being put in a main event program.
WWE has made no public statements. Punk has, however, been removed from all advertising going forward. His name was never mentioned on Raw and the chants for him were not acknowledged in any form. Some expected a big burial like the company did in 2002 when Steve Austin walked out under somewhat similar circumstances, but the company probably learned to have the foresight to avoid that.
Still, they are clearly not confident he’s coming back. He was removed from the open of the show and replaced with a shot of Kane. He was removed from a graphic on the app and replaced by Cena. On 4th February, a licensee was given the instructions to remove all graphics on merchandise going forward that was to have Punk and replace them with Randy Orton. The latter move, in particular, is a long-term move and wouldn’t have been called for unless they were pretty sure he wasn’t coming back soon.
Those who have spoken with him and told The Wrestling Observer to expect him to leave have noted his being unhappy about money and creative, that there were things he had been told would happen that didn’t pan out. It wasn’t any one thing, although his WrestleMania payoff for the Undertaker match was said to be one of many things. But it was made clear not to look so simply at one specific thing, past he had lost his enthusiasm and wanted out. Because he didn’t live high on the hog, and can afford to go home and with the way he lives, he’ll have no money worries for the rest of his life.
There was the continual frustration that he felt, correctly, that he didn’t have the look that they believe a top guy should have and it was keeping him from that position. There were also a lot of injuries to be considered. He had a few MRIs done over the past two months regarding various injuries, and underwent ImPact testing for a possible concussion (he tested negative) the night before.
The general feeling in the company was that a lot of people were tired of his negativity and from an office standpoint, many were glad he was gone. Unlike a lot of fans, there was a mood that because of the way he left that they should move on rather than have him come back for a few months to a relationship neither wants, even though he sells a lot of merchandise.
Mick Foley, in particular, noted that he would watch him and cringe when he would go to the top rope for the Randy Savage elbow drop, noting he knew how much it hurt him to do it and suggested Punk to take that move out of his repertoire. He noted Punk was going to do everything he could to have the best match possible until he left.
Austin noted that, whether he agreed or not with the creative as it was in 2002 that led him to leave, he regrets doing so the way he did, because he left a lot of money on the table, as Punk is doing.
A key thing Austin brought up is that when he left, he, like Punk, would have been in breach of contract. They can’t force him back to work if he doesn’t want to work. However, when Austin left in 2002, because of the breach, they cut off all money, meaning he didn’t get any merchandising checks from items that bore his name and likeness, or from DVD’s sold featuring him, video game royalties, or any royalties. If he were to complete his contract, he would continue to get merchandise checks after leaving the company, which in his case, would be a significant amount of money.