Fact or Fiction: The “All-Star” Edition (Part 2)
Fact or Fiction (featuring Rob Simmons, The Doc, Mr. Tito, Leaf, Maverick, Oliver, and Super Chrisss): The “All-Star” Edition (Part 2)
By Rob Simmons
Jul 29, 2014 - 11:49:23 AM
Welcome back readers to Part 2 of our All-Star Fact or Fiction. We’ve got three topics in the books, so let’s get right back into it with one given to us by Tito
”CM Punk's movement to the WWE.com Alumni section is a swerve. He'll return to the WWE by the end of 2015.”
The Doc-To the first part fiction; it's not a swerve. To the second part fact; yes he'll be back by end of 2015. Well, I think he'll be back in the next few years before his 40th birthday. He'll be 36 in October, so he's got some time. WWE has proven in recent years that they now view their stars of the past as the major celebrities for their top WrestleMania angles. That's a formula that probably won't change from here on out. When in doubt, they can just dig into the past and pluck out a big name. CM Punk became a big name and there will be mutual interest there some day. He will become the very thing that he seemed to so genuinely dislike - a returning, part-time star. He should be part-time when he comes back if you ask me. There's no reason for anyone who got as burned out as he did to readily sign-up to be a 300 date/year guy again. By end of 2015, though? I couldn't tell you that. I'd say that's somewhere between probable and likely.
Oliver- I’m afraid I’ve got to say FICTION on this one, no matter how much it saddens me. Punk himself has recently said he’s completely done with all wrestling, and if the reports about him being careful with money are true he doesn’t need to put his body and health on the line any more. 18 months might well be a long time, but I’m leaning towards believing the reports that communications between Punk and WWE have completely broken down. He seems happy, and I think he’s the type of obstinate bastard who would dig his heels in no matter how much money, and how many promises, WWE through at him. I’m perfectly happy to be proven wrong and for him to be The Authorty’s ‘Plan D’ once Lesnar loses the title back to Cena, though – corporate sell out Punk could be amazing.
Tito- As long as his wife, AJ Lee, remains happily employed with the WWE, you cannot deny a comeback at some point. FACT because the money will be right, CM Punk will bump into McMahons at some WWE corporate event with AJ, and I think if TNA Wrestling re-ups its television deal, the WWE might make a serious offer to bring him back. I know, CM Punk said he's retired... But money talks and bullshit walks. He's been scratching the wrestling itch for so long that he felt the urge to stop? And see the question... "End of 2015". I believe that the WWE is going to keep AJ Lee gainfully employed and thus keeps the door just slightly over for her husband to return.
Leaf-FICTION. I think that Punk is done as a wrestler. He seemed so sure of himself when he was approached with a question about his career at the AP Music Awards and he appeared to be so god damn healthy. I think Punk is truly enjoying life away from the business. He's got married, to a certain WWE Diva incidentally, he's even been seen wearing a suit! If rumours are to be believed, his refusal to do so whilst he was with the company led to his World Championship run in 2009 being cut short.
We'll see Punk back one day to receive his Hall of Fame induction. Hopefully we'll be lucky enough to have him join commentary in the future too. I just don't see it happening right now.
Super Chrisss-*Sigh* I wish it was a swerve. I really do. But it's time to accept the facts and move on - Punk is retired. Maybe not for long (as he could be back as early as the 2015 Royal Rumble) but in no shape or form is WWE moving The Straight-Edge Superstar to the alumni section of their website a way to fool the fans into thinking he's done and not coming back. Just for giggles, you know who else is in the current alumni section of wwe.com? Batista and Brie Bella. Oh, and Jeff Jarrett is there as well. In my book, the alumni section of wwe.com - hell, 99% of that website for that matter - is completely irrelevant and used for storyline purposes. I take anything reported on there with a grain of salt. If CM Punk comes back to WWE, it will be on his terms, and his terms alone. Punk walked out of the company last winter because he was unhappy, tired, and frustrated with both the storylines he was involved in and those happening around him. FICTION to the website move being a swerve; WHO KNOWS about a 2015 return.
Maverick-Gosh I would absolutely love it if this were to happen. CM Punk has been my favourite wrestler for the past eight years and he saved the product as far as I am concerned. At the time of his departure, I infamously speculated that it could be an elaborate work, but as Wrestlemania XXX came and went without a Straight Edge Superstar comeback, it became crystal clear that this was real.
I have always felt that CM Punk is too in love with professional wrestling to walk away for good. At 35 years of age, and having not abused his body with drugs or alcohol his whole life, he would have plenty of gas left in the tank, particularly now he has taken the extended break he should perhaps have taken after The Undertaker match at Wrestlemania XXIX. LIke Chris Jericho in 2005, he appeared to need a break in order to recharge his batteries. So eventually, he will be back, I think. However, it may be 2016 before we see that burning desire to get back in the ring manifest itself, so I will say FICTION on this occasion.
Once again, Tito stands alone (sort of) in his take on that topic. Let’s see what happens when Super Chrisss steps up to the plate.
”The WWE Network will hit 2 million subscribers by the end of 2015 (after it goes international in early 2015).”
Oliver- Assuming that it goes international in six month’s time, and by international we are talking fully worldwide and not just Europe, I think this should easily become FACT. There are plenty of willing subscribers out there, I’m sure – it’s just a case of getting them a strong product to prompt them to have to view it as a must buy. Cost will likely be the biggest factor, though – if it’s going to be $10 in the US for the foreseeable future, that translates as roughly £6 in the UK, for example. I’d gladly pay that, and probably up to £10 for it if I’m honest, assuming it has enough content to get me interested. Actually, who am I kidding? I’d pay that just to watch NXT endlessly. I can see WWE breezing past that number once it goes fully global.
Tito- Not happening. FICTION. Heading into Wrestlemania 30, which by acquiring 6 months at $9.99, you would be receiving WWE Network for free with Wrestlemania... The WWE could only draw 667,000 subscribers in the United States. Ouch. Second Quarter 2014 numbers will be reported soon and they could just be just above that. WWE needs 1,000,000 domestic buyers to break even, but at 6 month expiration, the WWE has a real risk of losing many subscribers until the NEXT Wrestlemania arrives. WWE Network might have a "sweet spot" between Wrestlemania to SummerSlam where the peak of their buys could happen. If that's 667,000, then adding the international numbers to that won't get to 2,000,000. The math doesn't add up when the demand to subscribe to WWE Network is low for poor quality wrestling pay per views from the current WWE product.
Leaf-FACT. I'm from Manchester, England and when RAW comes to the right side of the pond, as it's known on LOPradio, the British crowds go wild. Then again, we're just a tiny island surrounded by water. If you throw in all of those other countries with their fans that are so passionate about the business because they are normally starved of the WWE product, with them being able to watch as much wrestling as they so wish, we will see a complete subscriber explosion. Admittedly, I have the Network now via a few loopholes. But hey, whatcha gonna do?
Super Chrisss-Simply put, any number lower than two million worldwide subscribers to the WWE Network by December 31, 2015 would have to be considered a massive failure. The Network has been "exclusively" available to the United States for over six months now, and the last reported estimate of subscribers was nearly 700,000. WWE is scheduled to hold a business call (or whatever those things are called) sometime in the next week, and the new current number of subscribers shall be revealed. While there's a chance that number could dip, I don't think it will. WWE has been - for lack of a better term - whoring the Network every chance they get, even going as far as to remove the classic 'wwe.com' logo surrounding the ring to a 'WWE Network' logo instead.
I could write an entire column about this topic, but let me keep it short and simple - the Network needs two things to expand and thrive: new, original content, and worldwide availability. I'm aware that the population of Canada doesn't match up to that in the U.S., but I know there are THOUSANDS of Canadians just itching to subscribe to the Network (legally). The same can be said for the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, etc. Furthermore, would it really kill WWE to add some new, exclusive shows to the Network? If shows like Legends House and Tough Enough are too costly, then why not more low-budget shows such as Countdown? I wouldn't mind seeing more documentaries similar to Daniel Bryan's Road to Wrestlemania, or maybe chronicling the life of both active and injured superstars (how they spend their day, getting ready for their return to TV, etc.). Just some ideas. I'm optimistic, and I want the Network to succeed, so I have to answer with FACT here.
Maverick-As I alluded to in the question that Oliver asked, I do absolutely believe that the international roll out of the Network is crucial to the profitability and success of the venture. At the time of writing, WWE has an estimated 700,000 subscribers in the US (though some of those will be international viewers using VPNs and such to subscribe from abroad, that number is, I think, fairly small). You'd have to assume that they could get another 400,000 or so from Canada, probably 200,000 or so as a conservative estimate from the UK, and perhaps another 200,000 from the rest of Europe, although pro wrestling seems to be growing all the time in Germany in particular, so that figure may end up higher than that. If they could get the Network to Australia and New Zealand- no easy task given how remote they are- that would probably be another 200,000 subscribers. You'd also have to think there would be a decent return from Mexico too, given how big the tours are down there, so I think that all in all, 2,000,000 is a realistic target. The only doubt in my mind is whether they roll out to all those places at once or whether they more cautiously do it piecemeal. I'm going to go with FACT, but a tentativeFACT.
The Doc-Fact. I'm assuming that WWE will get 1 million domestically this year. That might be a big assumption; it might not be. As mentioned before, this is not an easy subject on which to draw conclusions. If they get to 1 million in the States, then I'm guessing they hit 2 million the world over. I think they'll hold off until the Mania 31 push to release it internationally, which is a wise decision. The biggest challenge for WWE is to keep shoring up the technical problems. I still have problems. Some have none. Some have them constantly. It's not a well-oiled machine, yet. They're about to hit the first renewal period. That'll be interesting. I not-at-all confidently answer "True" to 2 million by 2015's end. I almost changed my entire response before hitting send.
I’m starting to sense a trend here. Let’s see if it continues with our last question, brought to you by Leaf
”Thanks to the Money in the Bank briefcase, Seth Rollins will capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship before his former stablemates.”
Tito- Nope... As much as I raved in the previous question about how the Shield break-up has helped Seth Rollins, I still say the money remains on Roman Reigns to be the first Shield champion and I predict it will be Wrestlemania 31. FICTION. With just 1 World Title, the challenge increases to spread the title among many wrestlers who appear deserving. I like Rollins but I'd like to see more development of his character as a heel before I could be convinced that he could carry the company as the #1 guy. Reigns is the WWE's ready-made guy, but damn, Dean Ambrose is showing serious intangibles that both Rollins/Reigns aren't showing to be the #1 guy. While I'm happy for the progress that Seth Rollins is making on his own as a heel, I'm seeing more short-term and long-term potential in Ambrose and Reigns.
Leaf-It's bad that I'm about to disagree with my own question but the more that I think about it, I've got to go with FICTION. The beauty of the Seth Rollins MITB win is that it doesn't have to be cashed in whilst the Authority is a fixture on WWE television. The heel turn at the expense of Reigns and Ambrose ensures that Seth could cash in on a member of the Shield for it to be a really hot cash-in, even if the Authority has dissolved. The betrayal is truly entrenched within the history of their characters.
I can't help but picture Reigns winning the belt at Wrestlemania followed by a cash-in attempt by Rollins and a save by the Lunatic Fringe, leading to Reigns and Ambrose celebrating together to close out the show. When the former Architect of the Shield will successfully cash in is anyone's business, though I think it will be Roman Reigns who gets there first.
Super Chrisss-I certainly hope he does. Of the three former members of The Shield, Seth Rollins is the most ready to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Here's why.
Dean Ambrose has quickly become my favourite wrestler. And judging by the reactions he's been getting from the WWE Universe on a weekly basis, I'd say he's also becoming a fan favourite for both casual and hardcore fans as well. That being said, Ambrose should chase the title as soon as possible. He should NOT become WWE World Champion before Rollins does. In fact, the day Rollins does drop the title, it should be at the hands of The Eccentric One. Giving Ambrose the title too early could actually harm Dean's momentum (kind of like how Randy Orton won the title at Night of Champions 2010, when he had just turned babyface and was on the cusp of something special, but got the belt way too soon). Ambrose is a future world champion, but only after his nemesis has won the title first. Remember; the chase is almost always more fun than the prize.
As for Roman Reigns, I like the guy, but he had no business competing for the world title at the last two PPVs. Reigns can start being discussed as a potential world champion once he wrestles a decent singles match (which he hasn't, yet). The more WWE tries to shove Reigns into the main-event, the more the fans will push back. I really hope the rumours of Reigns main-eventing Wrestlemania 31 by challenging Brock Lesnar for the world title aren't true, because even though April is still eight months away, I don't think Reigns will be ready (in-ring-wise) to carry the company yet.
Which leaves us with Seth Rollins. He's part of the evil Authority, he can wrestle, and he can talk. He also has the prestigious Money in the Bank briefcase. Is he going to be the company's next top star? Probably not, but whether he drops the title to Ambrose, Reigns, or Daniel Bryan, he's more than prepared to be the antagonist at the top of the mountain. FACT.
Maverick-In recent years, WWE have gone back to having their briefcase holders carry the contract for a lengthy period of time before cashing in. Rollins, as mentioned earlier, is being built up the old fashioned way, through his stellar ring work on a nightly basis and through his heated feud with former stablemate Dean Ambrose. Meanwhile, Roman Reigns is currently receiving a more modern super push designed to capitalise on his look, bloodline and raw charisma. Now I see where Leaf is going with this as this may be a tortoise and hare scenario, but there are all sorts of things in the way of a Rollins cash in- Ambrose following him like a bloodhound, potential matches over the briefcase, the potential for the contract to "run out" come June next year, the fact that Triple H is trying other "options" with Rollins as his trump card if nothing else pays off. There are just too many possibilities in the way of any Architect cash-ins before Wrestlemania XXXI, and for that reason, I say FICTION, Reigns will be the first Shield member to win the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and he will do so at Wrestlemania. However, I do believe that all three members will win the twin belts eventually. These three are the future of the industry, of that I have no doubt.
The Doc-Fact. As of now, I see the major storyline for the fall revolving around The Authority regaining the title and the chase for Roman Reigns to achieve it. I think they're wasting Brock going after the title right now and I believe that they've switched gears on their thinking toward a match between him and Reigns for Mania (if that was ever the plan). That's my current line of thinking, anyway. Rollins will win the title in the early fall.
Oliver- I mean, this will all depend on timing, right? The thing is, the common scenario at the moment is that Lesnar will hold those titles through until WrestleMania after winning them at SummerSlam. I’m fine with that – if they have Heyman turning up as the hype man for his client and Lesnar just rocking up for pay per views the programming is going to be hugely interesting. Assuming that, I can’t imagine Rollins cashing in on Lesnar. I mean, I want to see the Architect sell for the Beast as much as any man, but surely it’s not in the plans of The Authority to have their guy cash in on Lesnar. Now, to continue with the expected booking, we have Reigns as the early favourite to win the title back at Mania. I truly can’t see Rollins cashing in before Reigns wins assuming they are going to go all the way to Mania with Lesnar as champion. Of course, plans could change – Cena might pull out a lucky win at SummerSlam, get decimated by Lesnar right after, and then get cashed in on by Rollins. If that happens a) my head will explode and b) what was the point in having Lesnar break The Streak? Perhaps they move plans up, but I honestly can’t see anybody other than Reigns winning the title from Lesnar as part of his big push. So…yeah, I’m going to go with FICTION, and say that Reigns wins the title first.
Well our final topic had The Doc and Super Chrisss firmly behind Seth Rollins becoming the first Shield member to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
What do you think readers? How’d our panel do in the return of Fact of Fiction? As always, be sure to contact us at any of the available outlets. Each member of our panel is on Twitter (including myself) and we love to talk wrestling. You can check many of us out on LOP Radio, and of course right here at LordsofPain.net.
Until next time,