The WWE Mailbag is back. I think it’s going to be something I do in the first week of every month going forward. It’s a good way to cover a lot of different topics that are on the minds of wrestling fans. As always, the majority of questions will be WWE related, but sometimes people want to ask me about other companies too.
I went on Twitter and asked for some questions from you, the loyal readers. My Twitter handle is @johnreport, so please give me a follow on there if you’re on Twitter (I mostly tweet about WWE and sports related topics) and let’s begin.
1. From @Carl0sAlbert0:
In which Century do you think WWE will give up trying to get Roman Reigns over with the fans?
Good phrasing by asking which century. Well played. Reigns is over in the sense that he gets a reaction, but not the reaction they want. I think the heel turn should have happened in 2015 (I wrote about it that summer, then in 2016, 2017 and so on) and it just feels weird that it hasn’t happened yet.
There’s a part of me that gets frustrated about it, but when you think of it from Vince McMahon’s perspective, they just signed a TV deal for $2 billion for next five years in the US, so it’s not like anybody is going to force him to change the plans. In Vince’s eyes, he probably thinks he is doing something right. I think it’s hurting the show because Raw is stagnant most weeks.
I’m also going to add that people asking how to “fix” Reigns is the most common question in today’s WWE. We all want to see the heel turn, but WWE is reluctant to do it.
2. From @jwhitep1:
What would be your plan for Johnny Gargano when he makes the jump to the main roster?
I’m a huge fan of Johnny Gargano, who has had an incredible first half of 2018. I would bring him and Tommaso Ciampa up to the main roster at the same time. I would not put them on 205 Live. I think Raw or Smackdown would benefit from the intensity of that rivalry. You could have Gargano debut in a great match vs. Bryan, Styles, or whoever and Ciampa can attack him.
There might be people that complain about the feud being done in NXT, but so what? Let’s see it on the main roster too. They have undeniable chemistry and it’s the best WWE feud in a decade (since Jericho/Shawn), so let’s see them in front of a bigger audience. Can Johnny win over the fans as much as in NXT and can Tommaso Ciampa become an even greater heel? I hope so.
After that I’d love to see Gargano against a bigger heel like a Samoa Joe or a Drew McIntyre because I think he’s at his best working underneath, selling, and making the comebacks. His style would work.
The concern with a guy like him is Vince may not totally get behind a guy that’s 190 pounds. Yes, they got behind some smaller guys in the past, but it takes years usually. Long answer. Hope it was good.
3. From @Grtyas_4000:
Who from either NJPW or Impact Wrestling would you bring to WWE if you could?
There are lots of them, especially from NJPW. I think NJPW put their titles on Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks to try to tell them how much they are valued and to keep them from going to WWE next year. Those are the three that come to mind right away.
Whether any of those guys go to WWE, I don’t know. They make good money working in NJPW and ROH and sell a lot of merch in the process, but I’m sure they all wonder what would happen if they go there. I don’t see any current Japanese wrestlers jumping over like Nakamura did.
Another name is Cody Rhodes, who works with both Ring of Honor and NJPW. He’s also running the All In show with the Young Bucks in September. Cody spent a decade in WWE, he didn’t get the push he felt he deserved and he left to become a bigger star. I can see him returning to WWE in a few years, but maybe not next year. It’s a situation similar to Drew McIntyre where I think he eventually ends up back in WWE. There’s no rush, though. It might be 2020 or 2021 for him.
4. From @herc0617:
Fantasy book Summerslam.
Doing the whole card would take a while, so I’ll give you five matches off the top of my head.
Braun Strowman wins Universal Title over Brock Lesnar
– It can be set up with Heyman saying that Lesnar refuses to defend the title until contractual demands are met. Strowman says he’s Mr. Money in the Bank and he demands a title match against Lesnar at SummerSlam. Vince McMahon shows up, says he’ll pay Brock what he wants and tells Strowman “you better win” because Vince is tired of dealing with Brock as a way to make Lesnar more of a heel. Then at SummerSlam, Strowman finally beats Lesnar to win the title.
Samoa Joe wins WWE Title over AJ Styles
– I like Styles as champion, but I want to see Samoa Joe as the next guy to hold that title. You can have Joe move on to a feud with Daniel Bryan later in the year.
Shinsuke Nakamura retains US Title over Daniel Bryan by cheating
– It would be a dream match in WWE for a lot of people. Nakamura can beat Jeff Hardy for the US Title at Extreme Rules, and Bryan challenges him. I don’t think Bryan and Kane should team up for that long. I’d rather see Bryan in this match. Have Nakamura retain by cheating.
The Shield (assuming Ambrose is back) over Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, and Kevin Owens
– I believe Dean Ambrose will be back by SummerSlam, so it makes sense to do a Shield reunion match at SummerSlam. Putting Owens with Ziggler and McIntyre makes sense as three of Raw’s top heels.
Ronda Rousey over Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Title
– It seems like a no brainer based on the story they have had already. Putting the title on Rousey at the second biggest show of the year makes a lot of sense. It will get WWE a lot of media attention in Brooklyn/New York City.
Those are five big matches. I think they would all be pretty good too. Do I think WWE is going to do all of those matches? Maybe just Rousey vs. Bliss. I just gave you what I would do.
5. From @BradWalters56:
Favorite wrestler from the 80s, favorite wrestler from the 90s, favorite wrestler from the 2000’s, favorite wrestler from the modern era? Go with their body of work in the era that you choose them in.
Randy Savage was my first favorite wrestler, so he’s my 1980s pick. I’m in my late 30s now. He just stood out to me due to the look, the voice, and the athleticism. Then as I got older, I appreciated the in ring work more. He could do it all. If I grew up in an area with more Ric Flair matches I may have picked him, but in the Toronto area we didn’t get to see him much until his WWE run and WCW years after that.
For 1990s, probably Shawn Michaels since it was nearly the whole decade with him as my favorite. Like Savage, he could do it all, had a lot of heel charisma, and was a natural face. The heel turn on Marty Jannetty was awesome, then he just kept going up another level after that to where he became a top guy headlining WrestleMania. I loved Steve Austin and Bret Hart too.
In the 2000s, Kurt Angle was my favorite along with Shawn’s second run. Angle was a complete all around talent that could have outstanding matches with anybody while also delivering good promos and comedy when needed. Guys like Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, and Edge were favorites as well.
This decade my favorites are Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles. CM Punk would be included too, but he quit four years ago. I wish he was around wrestling those guys. They are in the same mold as the others in terms of being able to have great matches consistently and Bryan/Styles improved as talkers too. Seth Rollins is another favorite as well.
6. From @Heersink:
How will the upcoming reboot of the XFL influence the WWE?
It might have some impact, but it is Vince’s project with his own money under the “Alpha Entertainment” company name. He’s hired a Commissioner in Oliver Luck to run the league, so Vince isn’t taking as big of a role. There’s not going to be the WWE connection this time even though some people will think there is. I also think if Vince is busy with it, creative would thrive if Triple H and his creative team got to do more.
I don’t know if the XFL or the AAF football league are going to succeed. I love the NFL, but I don’t watch the CFL, which has a team that’s an hour from me. I enjoy the NFL and college football, and that’s enough for me. I don’t need other leagues, but some fans might like having even more football in their lives. On the one hand, Vince is nuts to even try this again, but WWE is also worth over $5 billion now (based on current stock price), so he can afford the risk.
7. From @jermaine611:
What is the reason that Smackdown is so good and a must watch each week while Raw has advantages and only can produce a DVR program?
I think the gap between Smackdown and Raw was bigger in late 2016 going into 2017. Smackdown has been better post WrestleMania this year, but not much better. I review every show over on my site TJRWrestling.net and lately, Smackdown is better nearly every week. If I had to put a letter grade on the shows, I’d say Smackdown is a B and Raw is about a C+ with the potential to be so much more.
When a show is two hours, they do a better job of booking it so there’s less filler. Every segment, whether in the ring, as a promo, or backstage, is meaningful. Raw is so long that often times there are filler segments or people are on the show so much that it gets repetitive.
That’s not to say that Raw was always great when it was two hours because years like 2009 and 2010 were bad for Raw, but I think the booking on Smackdown is smarter now.
8. From @mat1310:
Thought on the WWE NXT UK brand that’s coming? When do you think it will start on WWE Network?
They’re taping later this month (with a plan to tape monthly), so it’s probably coming in August or September. I think it’s a cool thing that UK fans are going to watch more than regular WWE fans. It’s tough for WWE fans to dedicated more time to other programming.
After Raw’s three hours and Smackdown’s two hours, there’s a big drop off in audience for the other shows. NXT does okay, but not great. 205 Live is not watched by most fans even with good main events. Now you’re adding another brand, so it’s going to be tough for the average fan to keep up. For hardcore fans, it’s more wrestling to watch. Thankfully, WWE Network is cheap at $9.99 per month.
9. From @ZuDfunck:
When is Dean Ambrose coming back?
The expectation is he should be ready for SummerSlam, but we don’t know for sure. Maybe after Extreme Rules he’ll be back, leading to something at SummerSlam. As you saw above, I suggested a Shield reunion. Ambrose is close to coming back, though. He had triceps surgery on his arm in December and it’s a 7-8 month injury, so that’s why the SummerSlam timeline fits.
I like Ambrose. He’s one of those guys that I think would benefit from a heel turn because the face act has been done for a while. I think he could be one of the best heels in the company.
10. From @FightAbaFight:
What are your thoughts on AJ Styles’ current WWE Title reign?
Styles won the WWE Title in November, so it’s been about eight months now. It’s good and better than Jinder Mahal as champion for sure, but the Nakamura feud dragged on a bit too long considering there was no title change. I’m ready for Styles vs. Joe. I am happy for Rusev getting a title shot, but I doubt he wins.
I thought the first Styles title reign in September 2016 was better mainly because he was a heel and had some epic matches with Ambrose and Cena. Heels get to have more fun out there.
11. From @jmb8311
What would it take for WWE to really feel threatened by ROH or NJPW to make them change their current product?
I doubt it will happen. They would need significant TV deals, they would need money to try to sign WWE talent away, and they would need shows with bigger crowds in the US. It’s not going to happen, especially with WWE having those new massive TV deals.
Look at what happened with WCW. They got big because they had a billionaire owner in Ted Turner that owned multiple cable TV networks (TBS, TNT, CNN, etc.) and happened to buy a wrestling company. That led to them paying more money than WWE was paying some guys, so the wrestlers left. There’s more to it than that, but that’s the basis of it. Could it happen again? Sure, but I don’t know who that billionaire is and what those networks would be. It’s a different world now.
12. From @GoodyR85:
Is John Cena going to get a run as a 17 time World Champion?
Before I get to the answer, just a note to say that if he does get to 17 then that’s the record in North American wrestling since he’s tied at 16 with Ric Flair.
If I had to guess I would say yes, but I don’t know when it would be because we have no idea when Cena will return to WWE. There’s plenty of reason for it not to happen since he’s a part timer, but as we can see with Brock Lesnar, clearly WWE has no problem with that. I think it’s a story WWE will want to do. Cena’s last WWE Title reign in early 2017 lasted only two weeks. It’s not like he would need a long run with it.
13. From @richardvowles1:
Ok, Seth Rollins best worker and most entertaining to watch but do you think he is more suited to being a heel?
I think he’s better and more natural as a face. He is finding his groove now because of his entertaining in ring style. The best faces are usually some of the better overall wrestlers because they know how to sell well, they have cool offensive moves and the crowd can really get behind them in their comebacks. Watch a Rollins match and the crowd is always into it. The heel run was good for him to grow as an overall performer, but being a face is the best thing for him for the majority of his career.
14. From @EricGarlinger
Why do contract signing segments still take place? Especially when those segments are ALWAYS the same and NEVER really needed.
It’s just a way to add some heat to a storyline. That’s like a Vince McMahon creative team go-to thing where he wants to have a physical confrontation take place. There’s no logical answer as to why some matches need a contract signing in public while another match does not.
It’s another example of the creative team just not being that creative in terms of ideas. That’s the same reason why nearly every show starts with a promo. That’s just how they are.
I went to a TV taping in Toronto in 2011 and the main event was Mark Henry in a contract signing segment with Randy Orton. It was so boring. It’s why I prefer going to live events if it’s not a PPV.
15. From @fury1234:
Which would you rather see at Wrestlemania: Charlotte vs Rousey or Asuka vs Rousey?
Charlotte vs Rousey is better and also much more likely to happen at WrestleMania. It’s a rumor that came out after this year’s WrestleMania, but it also makes sense too. Asuka has lost a lot of steam due to losing to Charlotte and Carmella. I think WWE considers Charlotte their top female with Rousey, so they will be kept apart until WrestleMania because that’s the money match.
That’s all for this mailbag. I’ll try to do this monthly in the first week of every month, so be sure to follow me on Twitter @johnreport to find out when I’ll do it again. You can also ask me questions on there any time and I’m happy to do my best to answer. Thanks for reading.