This Week In WWE Biz: The Undertaker Plans, Brock Lesnar Leaving?, Ronda Rousey Schedule, More
WWE Has Plans For The Undertaker After WrestleMania 34
The Undertaker may not ride off into the sunset at WrestleMania 34, after all.
According to PWInsider.com (h/t WrestlingInc), “The Deadman” is set to appear at WWE’s “Greatest Royal Rumble” in Saudi Arabia next month, though it’s unclear what his role on the show will be:
PWInsider is also reporting that The Undertaker will be appearing at the show ‘in some fashion.’ WWE is also reportedly working on more surprises for the show as they want the event to be ‘massive’ and ‘impactful.’
WHAT’S IT MEAN FOR WWE?
John Cena called out The Undertaker on the latest edition of Raw, which essentially confirmed that reports of the two facing each other at WrestleMania 34 are indeed true.
What isn’t nearly as clear, however, is what that may hold for The Undertaker’s long-term future because the fact that he is scheduled to appear at a show after WrestleMania could mean one of many things. The most likely scenario is that Undertaker’s appearance in Saudi Arabia is a one-time thing that’s being done to help sell tickets and that Taker will simply be appearing, not wrestling, on the show. Another scenario, and a much less likely one, is that Undertaker could wrestle again after WrestleMania 34.
That would be a huge shocker given that Undertaker’s WrestleMania 34 match is a surprise in and of itself. The average fan probably assumed that Taker’s match against Reigns at WrestleMania 33 would be his last, especially given indications that the WWE Network subscriber count isn’t affected either positively or negatively when WWE uses part-time stars such as “The Deadman.” There’s been no word, however, on whether The Undertaker was coaxed out of retirement or actually is just scratching the itch to wrestle again.
One would think that it may be a combination of both, but it would be a surprise to see a 53-year-old Undertaker lace up the boots at a non-WrestleMania show ever again. With many speculating that the “Greatest Royal Rumble” will air on the WWE Network, though, perhaps the company hopes that the addition of The Undertaker to the card could help drive up the number of subscribers despite the stagnant subscriber count suggesting that won’t happen.
But if the event does not air on the WWE Network, then The Undertaker’s expected appearance is likely happening purely in hopes that more fans will attend the show than would if he wasn’t on it. That could render any chatter about what this means for Undertaker’s future, well, essentially meaningless.
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— With Spandex UPROXX (@WithSpandex) March 14, 2018
Will WWE Allow Brock Lesnar To Compete For UFC If He Signs A New Deal?
WHAT’S THE DEAL?
Brock Lesnar will have to choose between WWE and UFC because he can’t have both.
According to Wrestling Observer Radio’s Dave Meltzer (h/t Cageside Seats), WWE will not allow Lesnar to fight for UFC while he is under a WWE contract:
The Observer also says Lesnar is leaning toward returning to UFC because WWE won’t let him fight in the Octagon while under contract to them again after he got bad press for his failed drug tests around UFC 200.
WHAT’S IT MEAN FOR WWE?
Though Lesnar may simply be using a potential UFC run as a way of landing a better WWE contract, it’s certainly possible that Lesnar will ultimately have to choose between the two.
Reports now indicate that WWE “is moving forward” with plans to do Lesnar vs. Reigns for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania 34, and the plan for more than a year now has been for Reigns to defeat Lesnar to win the title and become the new face of WWE. However, that outcome always seemed to be planned regardless of whether or not Lesnar was planning on re-signing with the company, so it’s unlikely that Lesnar dropping the Universal title at WrestleMania 34 can be taken as a sign that he’s leaving.
Now does seem like the right time to let Lesnar leave if he’s intent on returning to UFC, though. The cyclical nature of the WWE Network subscriber count indicates that “The Beast” really isn’t making a measurable difference when it comes to consistently attracting new fans, and given that he was, by last check, WWE’s highest paid star, you could certainly argue that WWE would be better off utilizing the money typically spent on Lesnar elsewhere.
UFC president Dana White seems convinced Lesnar will return to the company, and though nothing is set in stone as of yet, that would suggest Lesnar would prefer to leave WWE at a time when UFC is really desperate for star power. It’s ultimately up to Lesnar to decide if a more long-term deal with WWE would be better for him than what would almost assuredly be a short run in UFC, where he can probably make more money initially but may not last as long.
Vince McMahon and company shouldn’t sweat it either way, though, because WWE will be just fine with or without Lesnar, whether temporarily or for good.
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Week in Wrestling: UFC champ Stipe Miocic in a potential fight with Brock Lesnar: “I’d win, there’s no question.” https://t.co/GJkfyhQwHy
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 14, 2018
Possible WrestleMania 34 Plans For Shane McMahon And Daniel Bryan
WHAT’S THE DEAL?
Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan are both expected to have major roles at WrestleMania 34.
According to Cageside Seats (h/t PWMania), the announced match between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn is expected to change and will feature both Shane and Bryan in some way, shape or form:
There is speculation that WWE will turn this match into a Triple Threat Match that will see Owens vs. Zayn vs. McMahon with SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan ending up as the guest referee.
There [have] also been rumblings of doing a tag team match that would see Owens and Zayn vs. McMahon and a partner with Bryan as the referee.
WHAT’S IT MEAN FOR WWE?
There are unconfirmed rumors that Vince McMahon could wrestle at WrestleMania 34, where he’d team with his son Shane to take on Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. However, given the risk of putting someone of his age in a match and the public backlash that might occur if he’s injured, that seems to be a long shot at best.
Although Shane said on the most recent edition of SmackDown that he’d be taking a leave of absence from the show, it’s likely that absence will be short-lived and that Shane will return in time for some sort of tag team match against Owens and Zayn at WrestleMania 34. Even though it’s unlikely that Vince will wrestle at his age, all of the indications are that Shane will have a partner for a tag team match that will be refereed by Bryan.
Of course, the ideal situation would see Bryan teaming up with Shane, but because Bryan has still not been cleared to wrestle, that’s also an unlikely scenario. WWE could instead choose to do a triple threat match between Owens, Zayn and Shane, but given that Owens and Zayn appear to be on the same page and WrestleMania is likely to feature perhaps three other triple threat matches (for the US, IC and SmackDown tag team titles), that would be a bit overkill.
Since SmackDown did see a significant jump in viewership this past week, perhaps WWE will look to pull out a big surprise for Shane’s partner in order to keep that momentum going. If WWE does decide to go the tag team route for Shane, there would be no shortage of potential partners for the SmackDown Commissioner, a list that includes Dolph Ziggler, Bobby Lashley and Rey Mysterio.
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— Wrestling News (@WrestlingNewsCo) March 15, 2018
Update On Ronda Rousey’s Schedule – Credit: WWE.com
WHAT’S THE DEAL?
There has been some confusion about Ronda Rousey’s upcoming schedule after a number of conflicting reports emerged regarding her status for upcoming editions of Raw.
After missing this week’s Raw despite being advertised, Ronda Rousey was at one point being advertised for just one more Raw appearance before WrestleMania 34. However, a report from Pro Wrestling Sheet says an error by the WWE.com staff is the only reason why Rousey was advertised for all of those appearances to begin with as she was not supposed to be advertised for last week’s Raw in Detroit:
WWE announced last week that Ronda Rousey would appear on every Raw prior to WrestleMania 34, but that didn’t happen…and Pro Wrestling Sheet has learned the reason. Sources tell us Ronda was ‘incorrectly advertised’ by WWE.com because the newly signed Superstar was scheduled for medical testing in Pittsburgh on Monday, not Raw in Detroit. Our sources stress that this was NOT a case of Rousey skipping the show for another obligation and that she truly wanted to be there, but couldn’t due to the testing.
It’s unclear who made the mistake on WWE’s side of things by publishing the announcement last week, but we’re told it was shared across all social media platforms because every department saw it was posted online and had no reason to believe they shouldn’t do the same. As we previously reported, the article has since been deleted from WWE.com. We’re told that from now on Rousey will be present at every Raw prior to WrestleMania, but it’s possible she’ll be featured in a dark segment only seen by the live audience.
WHAT’S IT MEAN FOR WWE?
According to a report from WrestlingInc, there were a lot of angry fans at this past week’s Raw taping from Detroit after WWE advertised both Rousey and Lesnar only for neither star to appear: “Fans were upset because there was no eight-man dark main event as advertised and no appearances by Ronda Rousey or WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, who were also advertised.”
That is a surefire way to upset fans who already dissatisfied with Rousey being called a “full-time star” when she is not working live events or appearing on every episode of Raw. The biggest obstacle facing Rousey right now is winning over the notoriously harsh WWE fans, who don’t easily accept “outsiders” or part-timers coming into the company no matter who those stars are or how famous they might be.
The widespread belief is that Rousey will actually be working a schedule more like that of Lesnar, and as we’ve seen with the negative reaction to “The Beast” as of late, many fans are not thrilled about the prospects of part-timers showing up here and there and then disappearing for long stretches. The issue with Rousey, though, is that because of her drawing power WWE will not want to overexpose her early on because that could negate her ability to become a draw in WWE.
In essence, WWE is stuck between a rock (making Rousey a legitimate full-timer) and a hard place (using her occasionally) because there are pros and cons to both, not the least of which is the possibility that fans reject her if she is hardly ever around. The good news for Rousey, however, is that reports indicate she is well-liked backstage and is viewed as someone who is passionate about pro wrestling, so that should bode well for her chances of success.
Still, that won’t prevent many from scrutinizing every step Rousey makes in WWE, especially ones that may paint her in a negative light to the company’s most diehard fans.
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— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) March 13, 2018
WHAT ELSE IS NEW?
- Raw viewership was up substantially to an average of 3.352 million viewers after averaging 3.099 million the previous week. That is to be expected as we near WrestleMania 34 but is a strong sign that the red brand’s top feuds are clicking, especially given that hour two was actually up from hour one.
- SmackDown drew its best viewership since April 2017 with an average of 2.771 million viewers. Much of the credit for that should go to a well booked and better than expected Fastlane pay-per-view, but now, the key will be keeping up that momentum as we near WrestleMania 34.
- The latest episode of the Mixed Match Challenge peaked at 81,200 live viewers, down a tad from last week’s 88,500. Let’s hope that number travels in the opposite direction as we near the end of the tournament.
- WWE may have scrapped Sasha Banks vs. Bayley from WrestleMania 34, likely due to time constraints, and that will be a huge disappointment for fans of the women’s division.
- WWE could be moving SummerSlam to an MLB stadium in 2019, a huge change that would likely allow the company to, at the very least, double its typical attendance for the show.
- In an interesting twist, tickets for NXT TakeOver in New Orleans have sold better than “Raw After ‘Mania” tickets, which should tell WWE it needs to make improvements to its main roster product.
- Jeff Hardy has completed rehab for his surgically repaired shoulder and is set to be at the Performance Center soon, but there has been speculation that his return could be delayed after his recent arrest for an alleged DWI.
- After WWE received a ton of backlash over its decision to name its women’s battle royal after The Fabulous Moolah, the company dropped Moolah’s name from the bout, which was obviously a smart PR move.
- Braun Strowman may or may not have a partner at WrestleMania 34, where he’ll challenge for the Raw Tag Team Championship, but if he does have one, the most likely candidate to join him is none other than Elias.
- Chris Jericho could be returning to WWE next month for the “Greatest Royal Rumble” even in Saudi Arabia, though it’s unclear if that would be a one-off deal or the start of another extended run for Y2J.
- Big Show’s WWE contract reportedly expired, but WWE has signed him to a new deal to remain with the company. It’s still likely that he’ll only be used sparingly as a wrestler going forward.
- WWE recently released a number of NXT stars due to overcrowding at the Performance Center, and logic says the company was also looking to cut costs.
- WWE announced that WrestleMania 35 will be held in MetLife Stadium next year. The pay-per-view was last held there in 2013 for WrestleMania 29, which was headlined by the rematch between The Rock and John Cena.
- Early WrestleMania betting odds have tabbed Roman Reigns, Finn Balor and the duo of Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey as likely winners of their respective matches. No surprises there.
- Here are some interesting salary numbers for WWE executives in 2017. What’s most notable is that Shane McMahon earned $1.3 million last year while Triple H netted $1.5 million purely for their work as on-screen performers, which of course, was quite limited.