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Posted 12/19/16 , edited 12/25/16
Happy holidays! As Christmas nears and the year winds down so does the WWE but all the news that comes is below for the week!

General sources are as normally credited to http://www.f4wonline.com/ and http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/news.html and http://fightnetwork.com/ and http://www.411mania.com/wrestling and http://www.pwi-online.com and http://www.thescore.com/trending while please also note that all news and rumours are subject to updates and changes.

NXT Takeover on Saturday, January 28, 2017 from San Antonio, Texas

*NXT Championship Match: Shinsuke Nakamura (C) vs. Bobby Roode
*NXT Tag Team Championship Match: The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar w/ Paul Ellering) vs. TBA

Royal Rumble on Sunday, January 29, 2017 from San Antonio, Texas - UPDATED PPV CARD

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/royalrumble and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Rumble_(2017)

*2017 Royal Rumble 30-Man Match
NOTE: 15 Raw and 15 SmackDown participants will be entered. The winner gets a world championship match at WrestleMania 33.
Participants Announced: Goldberg (RAW), Brock Lesnar (RAW)
*WWE Universal Championship Match: Kevin Owens (C) vs. The United States Champion Roman Reigns
NOTE: Chris Jericho will be suspended above the ring during this match inside a steel shark cage.

-Smackdown & 205 Live will air on Tuesday night from Detroit. It was announced on Raw that Dean Ambrose would take on the Wyatt Family alone on SmackDown as he gets Luke Harper in a match. Neville and The Brian Kendrick will team up to take on the Cruiserweight Champion Rich Swann and TJ Perkins on 205 Live.

-WWE PPVs are definitely declining in public interest. The TLC show two weeks ago was the first time a WWE show not cracking the top 20 in searches for the day. The Smackdown shows have done far worse from the start than the Raw shows. Last night's show was No. 16, with 100,000 searches, but it used to be 200,000 minimum for most shows. PPVs always have more searches than TV shows, but UFC on Saturday for a TV show had three in the top 20, with Paige VanZant (No. 5), Urijah Faber (No. 12) and Sage Northcutt (No. 18). Bernard Hopkins was No. 12. That correlated with what will likely be the best December UFC ratings in several years.

-Clutch Chairz and WWE have cut a marketing deal to produce licensed chair designs of WWE stars. The first run of chairs will be released in the first quarter with John Cena, Steve Austin, New Day, Enzo & Cass, Sasha Banks and others.

-With NXT Takeover on 1/28 in San Antonio, WWE has booked NXT shows for 1/26 in Houston and 1/27 in Dallas. Tickets go on sale on 12/23 at 10 a.m. at NXTTickets.com.

-There will be a Smackdown show on 2/21 in Ontario, CA. Tickets go on sale 1/5.

-Recently released Lita has been added to Wrestlecon over WrestleMania weekend.

**UPDATES for Dec.20/16**

-Smith Hart, the eldest of Stu and Helen Hart's children, posted a health update on Monday:

"I would like to thank everyone for the calls and messages. Yes I am back in the hospital and I don't know when or even if I'll be getting out but thank God for this free Alberta health care as they are putting me through a number of procedures. I appreciate all the positive messages. Please keep my children in your thoughts."

-Zack Ryder tweeted about his knee surgery from last week, and said he could be on the shelf anywhere from four to nine months.

Zack Ryder noted that he’s been told two different timelines for his torn patella tendon to heal. One doctor told him 4-6 months of recovery time and another estimated 6-9 months. Ryder suffered the knee injury during the battle royal on Smackdown last week and was in obvious pain at the conclusion of the match and was flown to Birmingham, Alabama the next day. The injury will likely be addressed tonight’s episode as the battle royal win had set up Ryder and Mojo Rawley to receive the next tag title shot.

-Monday’s episode of Raw averaged approximately 2,956,000 viewers over the three hours and was up from 2,753,000 last week. The show started with 3.06 million viewers in the opening hour, dropped to 2.97 in the second hour and finished with 2.83 million in the final hour with the main event tag of Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho vs. Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins. The Monday Night Football game between Washington and North Carolina did 11,210,000 and was down 1.7 million viewers from last week’s game.

What was notable about last night's show was the different way fans viewed it. Male fans grew, particularly those between the ages of 12 to 34, where there was an amazing 19 percent growth from hour one to three. However, this growth was reversed among women, who tuned out, losing 19 percent of the viewers between the first and third hour between those same ages.

Because the audience is heavily male skewed, even though overall viewership did decline as the show went on, the overall decline was less than last week. Essentially the tag team match with Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns vs. Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens was a positive with men between the ages of 12 to 34 and a negative with women in the same age range.

The Charlotte vs. Bayley match in hour three probably wasn't a big difference maker because it wasn't announced ahead of time, so if women had tuned out earlier it wasn't because of that match as they didn't know it was going to happen. Raw ended up in 8th place for the night on cable.

-After tonight the crew is off for the Christmas holidays and will return next Monday for a house show at Madison Square Garden.

-It was announced on Monday night that Kevin Owens will face Roman Reigns for the Universal title at the Royal Rumble on January 29th in San Antonio, Texas. The stipulation is that Chris Jericho will be hung above the ring in a shark cage to prevent his interference in the match. The company is marketing the shark cage with the recent Mattel release of a WWE set involving the cage and this is the second use of the cage following the Authors of Pain vs. TM61 match from NXT Takeover last month in Toronto.

-After Raw there are rumours swirling now the main event for Wrestlemania is set with Vince McMahon along with most of the card as it's that time of year to do so prior to the Royal Rumble. The talks are for Roman Reigns to win the WWE Universal Champioship at the Royal Rumble and for Braun Strowman to win the Rumble match even taking out both Brock Lesnar and Goldberg to look strong, then both have the main event slot at WrestleMania for Braun to win the Universal Championship with Vince shifting his new project from Roman to Braun for his "big man love" of guys on top.

-With Reigns scheduled for the Universal title match, it’s possible that he won’t be a participant in this year’s Rumble match.

-Last night also saw new directions for the women’s division with programs pitting Charlotte Flair against Bayley and Sasha Banks against Nia Jax starting.

-Total Divas is being moved to 9pm Eastern on E! beginning with Wednesday night’s episode. After the first five episodes of the current season, the show is averaging 580,000 viewers in the prior timeslot on Wednesday nights.

-Sting (Steve Borden) recently did a skit for the Dallas Cowboys as their new intimidation coach. A video can be seen at http://www.bardown.com/watch-sting-take-on-his-new-coaching-job-with-the-dallas-cowboys-1.635821

-The WWE stock closed at $18.93 on Tuesday.

-Finn Balor reflected on his injury and said that the target is still to be back in time for WrestleMania in an interview with ESPN.

-New Raw tag titles were introduced on Raw last night as Mick Foley awarded new champions Cesaro & Sheamus the new belts with red straps.

-Triple H discussed WWE’s plans for the UK market and had some praise for Will Ospreay in an interview with ESPN.

-The Miami Herald has an article on Chad Gable.

-The main event next week in Chicago for SmackDown Live got changed to a Triple Threat Match for the WWE World Title between the champion AJ Styles, Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin. Becky Lynch gets her rematch with the SmackDown Women's Champion Alexa Bliss for the title. The Wyatt Family will defend their Smackdown Tag team titles against American Alpha, The Usos, and Beauty & the ManBeast in a four corners elimination match. Also John Cena returns on the show.

**UPDATES for Dec.21/16**

-In a dark match at last night's Smackdown taping in Detroit, Rhino (in his hometown) and Heath Slater beat the Vaudevillians. Of note from Matthew McFarlin, the 11-year-old son of the Slam Sports photographer from the evening, Brad McFarlin, "The Miz got the most heat, while AJ Styles got the biggest pop of the night."

-Tuesday’s episode of Smackdown averaged 2,637,000 viewers on the USA Network and was the most watched episode of Smackdown since Episode #900 last month, which featured The Undertaker and Edge being advertised.

SmackDown was fifth for the night in total cable viewers, trailing three FOX News shows and Curse of Oak Island on the History Channel. The show finished second on the night in the important 18-49 demo, with a 0.88 rating.

The only big sports competition that it went against was a college football bowl game on ESPN that did 1.581 million viewers. It's also notable that most network programming was repeats, which also would've helped the SmackDown number.

Next week's show features the return of John Cena. His last return to TV after taking time off led to a sizeable ratings bump.

Below is a look at SmackDown ratings since the brand split as compared to Raw ratings from the same week. For the most part, SmackDown has finished in the 80-85 percent range of Raw's audience but was up a bit from that this week.

**UPDATES for Dec.22/16**

-At http://slam.canoe.com/Slam/Wrestling/2016/12/22/22692183.html has the autopsy report on the death of Chyna and what drugs were in her system at the time of death.

-At http://www.bardown.com/the-new-ric-flair-30-for-30-trailer-will-make-you-wanna-yell-wooooo-1.636848 is the trailer for the new ESPN 30 for 30 Ric Flair piece coming in 2017.

-At http://www.thescore.com/mma/news/1190537-stephanie-mcmahon-wwe-would-welcome-rousey-with-open-arms/ Stephanie McMahon said that Ronda Rousey would be welcomed into the WWE anytime with open arms in an interview.

-Mickie James was in Pittsburgh today doing her WWE physicals. She is scheduled to start on the SmackDown women's division if all goes right.

-You can get 2 for 1 tickets for the 12/30 house show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles through 10 p.m. Pacific time tonight using the password TAGTEAM

-Total Wrestling Magazine talked to Bayley.

Favourite Dusty Rhodes story: "When I first started my character in my first match with Alicia Fox, I walked out with my hair I a ponytail and as soon as I got into the ring I took the ponytail out and let my hair down, because I knew it would get messed up and I didn’t want to look ridiculous on TV. When I came back through the curtain Dusty was the first one to stop me and he said “why did you take your hair down?” I said because it’s going to get messed up and I didn’t think WWE would like a girl with a ponytail. He said “no. That is your trademark. That is your thing. That’s what makes you stand out.” And now little girls love to put their hair up in a side ponytail and it’s like a little trademark."

Thoughts on WWE debut and teaming with Sasha Banks to face Dana Brooke and Charlotte Flair:" It was incredible. I was trying to keep it cool the whole day. Because it wasn’t my official debut I feel like I held in my emotions a lot as I thought this doesn’t mean anything really, so I’m just going to have fun with it and enjoy it. I thought it was ok and I said thank you for letting me do this, that was incredible. I was so surprised by how excited the crowd was that it was me. I thought it was fun. Then I got to my hotel room and as soon as I closed the door I broke down and was like what just happened?"

**UPDATES for Dec.23-25**

-The change in time slot for Total Divas proved to be a big benefit for the first week. This week’s episode that aired at the new time of 9pm Eastern on Wednesday night was up 27% with 705,000 viewers watching the episode. That is the second highest number of the current season and up from 556,000 viewers the prior week on E!

-The next two weeks of NXT will features matches from the recent Osaka card next week and then matches from the Melbourne show on the January 4th episode. Though cameras were rolling when NXT made its way to Japan for the first time ever earlier this month, it wasn't entirely clear how much of the show would ever make it to TV.

But WWE announced on Friday that a two-hour version of the event from the Edion Arena in Osaka will be broadcast next week to close out the year of NXT TV. The show's main event previously aired two weeks ago as Shinsuke Nakamura regained the NXT Championship in his home country by defeating Samoa Joe.

In addition to Nakamura vs. Joe, the show also featured the return of Tajiri to WWE for the first time since the Cruiserweight Classic as he teamed with Akira Tozawa to challenge Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa for the NXT Tag Team Championship. The NXT Women's Championship was on the line as well as Asuka defended her title against Nia Jax.

Those three title matches, as well as Liv Morgan & Aliyah vs. Billie Kay & Peyton Royce and Oney Lorcan vs. Andrade "Cien" Almas, will air next week. The start of 2017 will also see another NXT house show broadcast on the WWE Network with NXT's December 8th event in Melbourne making its way to TV on January 4th. That show's Nakamura vs. Joe steel cage main event for the NXT title aired last week.

-The WWE crew has the weekend off for Christmas and then have their big post-Christmas week of house shows in the Northeast. On Monday night, Raw is in Chicago as the WWE is running the Allstate Arena on back-to-back nights for both the Monday and Tuesday television tapings. Monday also has a house show at Madison Square Garden with the Smackdown crew and the return of John Cena on that show and his television return set for Tuesday night. Smackdown will be in Madison Square Garden headlined by AJ Styles vs. John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose in a three-way for the title.

-Given that nothing has been promoted for Raw on Monday and Smackdown has a loaded show with John Cena’s return, this week could be the first time during the brand split that Smackdown does a bigger audience than Raw. Last week’s Smackdown taping at the Joe Louis Arena did outdraw the Raw tapings in Columbus but Detroit is a larger market.

Smackdown will be Tuesday in Chicago with three title matches announced, AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin for the WWE title, Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch for the women's title and a four-way tag title match with The Wyatt Family vs. Usos vs Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. American Alpha, plus the television return of Cena. There will also be a Raw house show on Tuesday night in St. Louis.

-As previously noted, ESPN has released a teaser for next year’s 30 for 30 documentary on Ric Flair. The documentary is directed by Rory Karpf, who also did the “Evolution of Punk” series for FS 1.

-To make clear that CM Punk is now Phil Brooks and done with pro wrestling and the WWE, his friend Cliff Compton (formerly Domino in the WWE) posted as noted at http://www.bardown.com/cm-punk-gave-away-his-real-wwe-championship-belt-for-christmas-1.637610 that he now has the WWE Belt.

-The Huffington Post has a story on the ring boy scandals in WWE while writing about Linda McMahon.

-To promote ESPN’s upcoming 30 for 30 documentary on the XFL, a pop-up XFL Hall of Fame featuring memorabilia and other items from the failed football league’s brief run will be open to the public on January 14th at the Helen Mills Event Space and Theater in New York City.

-The Miz appeared on the first episode of “Chin Locked” with James Ellsworth.

Have a safe holiday season and check back when you wish to the news here, so don't 'cha dare miss it!
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Posted 12/25/16 , edited 12/31/16
2016 is almost done but the WWE is busy with shows all week! Here is the news coming from them all and more!

General sources are as normally credited to http://www.f4wonline.com/ and http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/news.html and http://fightnetwork.com/ and http://www.411mania.com/wrestling and http://www.pwi-online.com and http://www.thescore.com/trending while please also note that all news and rumours are subject to updates and changes.

NXT Takeover on Saturday, January 28, 2017 from San Antonio, Texas

*NXT Championship Match: Shinsuke Nakamura (C) vs. Bobby Roode
*NXT Tag Team Championship Match: The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar w/ Paul Ellering) vs. TBA

Royal Rumble on Sunday, January 29, 2017 from San Antonio, Texas - UPDATED PPV CARD

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/royalrumble and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Rumble_(2017)

*2017 Royal Rumble 30-Man Match
NOTE: 15 Raw and 15 SmackDown participants will be entered. The winner gets a world championship match at WrestleMania 33.
Participants Announced: Goldberg (RAW), Brock Lesnar (RAW)
*WWE Universal Championship Match: Kevin Owens (C) vs. The United States Champion Roman Reigns
NOTE: Chris Jericho will be suspended above the ring during this match inside a steel shark cage.
*WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (C) vs. John Cena

-Raw will be live on Monday from Chicago while Smackdown will be in Madison Square Garden headlined by AJ Styles vs. John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose in a three-way for the title.

-Smackdown will be Tuesday in Chicago with three title matches announced, AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin for the WWE title, Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch for the women's title and a four-way tag title match with The Wyatt Family vs. Usos vs Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. American Alpha, plus the television return of John Cena. There will also be a Raw house show on Tuesday night in St. Louis.

**UPDATES for Dec.27/16**

-As WWE closes out 2016, Paul Levesque (more commonly known as Triple H) spoke to ESPN's Nicolas Atkin about the future of NXT as the brand prepares to enter a new year.

In the interview, Levesque once again emphasized that NXT is more than developmental. He also had interesting comments on roster movement between brands that we could see in the future as NXT further establishes itself.

"We say that it's developmental, but at the same time it's a third brand -- 200 events this year, specials and the weekly show itself which are one of the most popular things on the Network," Levesque said. "I think over the years you're gonna begin to see Raw is its own brand, SmackDown is its own brand, NXT -- you're gonna see people move around. It's no longer gonna be just, this guy got called up, it's gonna be maybe 'this guy got moved over, she got moved here,' and see that transference of talent."

"At the end of the day, it's all content; it's all product that our fans wanna see. The difference in those products is big, but there's something there for everybody. I think that's what's exciting about it."

Levesque was asked about Shinsuke Nakamura's status and seemed confused by fans clamoring for the NXT Champion to be called up to the main roster.

"One of the things that's funny to me -- I always laugh at it -- is when people say to me, 'I watch Nakamura every week in NXT. I don't know why they don't put him on Raw so I can watch him on Raw every week,'" Levesque said. "You're getting to see him, right? You're getting to see him doing what he does, in a big way. The opportunities are there. He's got that clean path now to get here, when he gets here he might go there, he might go back."

Levesque also discussed NXT's role in getting talent ready to work on television and how that has helped wrestlers like Finn Balor acclimate to WWE. Levesque noted that Balor came from an "indie group" and had his mind blown when working his first live event because he had never thought of where the cameras were or others things he had to do for TV.

-Wednesday has a Raw house show at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and a Smackdown show in Nashville. The Raw brand house shows are scheduled right now as Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins vs. Chris Jericho, Cesaro & Sheamus vs. New Day vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Big Cass vs. Rusev, Sami Zayn vs. Braun Strowman, R-Truth & Goldust & Sin Cara & Curtis Axel & Rich Swann & Darren Young vs. Shining Stars & Titus O'Neil & Jinder Mahal & Neville & Bo Dallas, and Sasha Banks & Bayley & Alicia Fox & Liv Morgan vs. Charlotte & Dana Brooke & Emmalina & Nia Jax.

The Smackdown brand house shows are scheduled as AJ Styles vs. John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose for the WWE title, Wyatt Family vs. American Alpha vs. Usos vs. Breeze & Fandango vs. Rhyno & Heath Slater vs. Ascension for tag titles, Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler for IC title, Alexa Bliss vs Becky Lynch for women's title, Baron Corbin vs. Kalisto, Apollo Crews & Jack Swagger & Mojo Rawley vs. Vaudevillains & Curt Hawkins, and Nikki Bella vs. Carmella.

-On Sunday retired Lt Col. Eduardo Garcia passed away. Garcia is the father of Lilian Garcia. Eduardo Garcia had been battling cancer for some time and the key reason Garcia left WWE was to be with her father as he was battling the disease that they were told was terminal.

-The New York Times today has a story on WWE trying to make it in China.

-This week on 205 Live, Neville challenges Rich Swann for the Cruiserweight Championship. Jack Gallagher challenged Ariya Daivari to a duel as well.

-Next week on Raw, Braun Strowman gets Sami Zayn in a Last Man Standing Match. Goldberg also returns next week.

-There were talks even up to signing Goldberg for more dates that Vince McMahon had to be convinced to not go with a WrestleMania Main Event of Brock Lesnar against Shane McMahon.

-The Miz will defend his Intercontinental Championship against Dean Ambrose next week on SmackDown.

-Ahead of his IWGP Heavyweight Championship main event against Kazuchika Okada at the Tokyo Dome on January 4th, Kenny Omega spoke to UPROXX's Austin Heiberg about that match, his career, and WWE's recent hiring spree of independent stars.

The year began with WWE signing AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows after their contracts with New Japan Pro Wrestling had expired, and the remainder of 2016 only saw more wrestlers from outside of the company sign with WWE.

After the conclusion of the Cruiserweight Classic, the addition of Raw's cruiserweight division and the introduction of 205 Live brought several wrestlers to their main roster at once, while Roderick Strong, Tommy End, Big Damo, and Crazy Mary Dobson are just the latest notable names to join the Performance Center and NXT.

Omega commented on those hiring practices by saying that he feels that the company is hiring people just to hire them.

"It seems as though we’re headed towards a monopoly, if I were to speak honestly." Omega said. "WWE is hiring people just to hire them. That’s fine, and I’m happy for whoever’s happy to collect a paycheck from them. A lot of my good friends are now receiving work and receiving money. But sadly, a lot of those people are signing with WWE just to ride the pine. You can’t put all these guys on TV. On one end, you have these mom-and-pop indy superstars getting TV time, and people all around the world are able to see the art of what they do. And in a lot of cases, they’re enjoying it, which is fantastic. I’m really happy about that."

While Omega said that he's happy for wrestlers who are enjoying their time in WWE, he went on to discuss the potential impact that WWE signing so many people could have on independent promotions and expressed that he wants to be an option for viewers who want more out of their wrestling programming.

"But as everyone gets picked up, as all these independent promotions have to shut down and close their doors because of WWE scooping everyone up, everyone’s going to lose an option. And that guy you saw for that one tournament, you’re not going to see him anymore." Omega said. "You can’t put him on TV, there’s only so much time. So eventually, people are going to run out of options. I want to be one of the options for people. You want to go eat a McDonald’s hamburger? That’s cool. McDonald’s can be good. Do I like them every day? Do I want to eat McDonald’s seven days a week for every meal? Probably not. Eventually, I’m going to want to go someplace for a triple-A grade steak. I may not necessarily have the traffic flow of McDonald’s, but guess what? The quality is there, and it’s for the distinguished wrestling viewer. People who are wanting something more out of their programming. That’s what I want to provide for people in 2017."

-In an interview with ESPN that was posted on Tuesday, Cena spoke about his return, reflected on his career, and was asked about potentially facing the Undertaker at WrestleMania. While answering the latter question, Cena answered affirmatively that he would want to "be in a high-profile match with one of the most legendary superstars in the industry."

-Stephanie McMahon was prepared for Chicago’s CM Punk chants at last night’s Raw. During the opening segment, she responded to the chants by saying that if the crowd kept it up for two minutes and 15 seconds, they’d last a second longer than Punk did in his fight against Mickey Gall.

-Cody Rhodes spoke out on Twitter about last night’s Raw segment that referenced his father. In the segment, Bayley gave Goldust a Dusty Rhodes teddy bear before Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows interrupted the Golden Truth and Anderson tore the head off of the bear. Cody tweeted after it aired:

“Not gonna' say something mean or blow a whistle. All I can say...is that whoever produced that, I hope they never know what this feels like.”

He also later responded to the reaction he got from the tweet:

“Appreciate all the kind words tonight & even the dissenting opinions. I turned something private to public. I'm not perfect. I just miss him.”

-The WWE revealed the logo for the upcoming United Kingdom Championship tournament at http://www.wwe.com/shows/wwe-united-kingdom-championship-tournament/article/triple-h-reveals-uk-championship-tournament

-In an interview with TMZ Sports that was released today but appears to have been taped last week, Dana White was asked about Brock Lesnar and CM Punk’s futures in the UFC. White said that he doubted that Lesnar would fight again but wasn’t definitive about it. White said that he will figure out Punk’s future with him and needs to talk to him about it, though he seemed more pessimistic than Punk was recently on the MMA Hour about continuing his career in the UFC.

-At http://www.thescore.com/news/1193425-the-rock-shows-off-epic-cheat-meal is a posting of the Rock and his cheat meal.

**UPDATES for Dec.28/16**

-The 205 live match between Cruiserweight Champion Rich Swann and Neville got changed into a non-title match instead at the last moment. Neville won the match to likely become the #1 contender.

-Monday’s episode of Raw averaged 2,850,000 over the three-hours for the post-Christmas edition of the show from Chicago. The key was that they did a decent job of maintaining the audience over the three hours. The show did decline each hour, which has been the pattern since the end of daylight savings time, but the drops weren't too severe.

The show started with 2.97 million for the first hour and then dropped to 2.88 million in the second hour and 2.72 million for the final hour with the main event of Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens for the U.S. title.

The show was down from 2.96 million viewers the prior week but had much bigger competition from the NFL this week.

The Monday Night Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions did a season high MNF audience of 18,605,000, which is up from 11.2 million from the week before. Raw was fifth for the night on cable, beating all news programming, but losing to football related programming. It was probably helped by most of television airing reruns. Ratings should start increasing as Raw enters the new year with Monday Night Football over for the season.

-Mick Foley put out a statement regarding his health status and confirmed the reports that he does need hip replacement surgery but has yet to schedule the surgery. He stated that after missing a payment, he no longer has health insurance the surgery is set to cost $60,000. Foley added that he is on handshake deal with the WWE for the General Manager position and certainly hinted in the Facebook post that it will be coming to an end at some point. He is only on a Legends deal with the WWE and will continue to perform the role for as long as the WWE feels he is needed. Perhaps the most telling part of the statement was stating that he was warned by so many wrestlers when he was an active performer that his style of bump taking would haunt him years later and in fact, it is now haunting him. He also added that if he had not started DDP Yoga and dropped 100 pounds that he didn’t think he could even get through an airport because of the amount of pain he is experiencing.

-The WWE’s post-Christmas house shows continue with both crews on the road tonight. The Raw crew is in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center and the Smackdown crew is in Nashville, Tennessee with John Cena on the Nashville show. Tomorrow the Raw crew is in Boston and the Smackdown crew is in Atlanta.

-EVOLVE has announced that Chris Hero will be working their shows on January 27th and 28th in San Antonio over Royal Rumble weekend. Hero doesn’t have an opponent announced yet for the Friday card but will be facing Zack Sabre Jr. on January 28th. Hero is still awaiting medical confirmation to a new deal with the WWE if it arises.

-Next week will feature Tajiri's return to WWE after it was announced that he would be appearing on 205 Live.

-America Alpha won their first tag team titles since being promoted to the main roster. Dissension between Randy Orton & Luke Harper was teased at the finish. Heath Slater appeared to suffer a leg injury during the match, but tweeted that everything is (mostly) fine on Wednesday.

-DDP spoke in an online interview about his WWE DVD, which is set to be released in March.

**UPDATES for Dec.29/16**

-For the first time during the brand split, SmackDown topped Raw’s audience for the final week of 2016.

The heavily promoted return of John Cena, along with three title matches promoted in advance led to 2,885,000 tuning into SmackDown from Chicago on the USA Network on Tuesday night.

It is also the highest number SmackDown has garnered since the brand split and the second highest number of the year for SmackDown. The most watched episode of SmackDown this year was the “Draft” show with 3,170,000 viewers tuning back in July.

The number beat out Raw’s audience by 35,000 viewers, which was also going against the most watched Monday Night Football game of the season with 18.6 million viewers. The show was third for the night on cable and in the 18-49 demo.

-Regarding something Wrestling Observer got a lot of questions about Tuesday and Wednesday, Paige is still under contract to the WWE.

-After last night's events at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, it was announced a 3/20 Raw in the building with the password BKISRAW with tickets on sale through tomorrow morning.

-Sky Sports has a story on Sam Gradwell debuting with WWE in the U.K. title tournament.

**UPDATES for Dec.31/16**

-The WWE crews get the weekend off and return for Raw on Monday night in Tampa with the return of Bill Goldberg and a Last Man Standing Match between Braun Strowman and Sami Zayn advertised. There is no Smackdown house show on Monday night so it actually would make sense for Smackdown talent to be on the show teasing the Rumble match. It also would have made a good night for the Slammys since most Mondays you can't have the Smackdown talent at the show.

Smackdown and 205 Live are Tuesday night from Jacksonville. The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose for the IC title is on Tuesday.

-The two-hour World of Sport pilot will be airing on ITV in the U.K. on Saturday with Jim Ross and Jim Cornette calling the show. If ITV green lights the show, that will be a major story to follow in 2017 as the WWE and ITV battle for that part of the world and see how aggressive ITV would get in signing talent. This comes two-weeks before the WWE runs their U.K tournament in Blackpool on January 14th and 15th.

- Next week on NXT is another two-hour show with matches from the Melbourne card.

-A major story involving the New York area is that Charter Communications (Spectrum Cable) and NBC Universal are in a dispute. As of right now, if a new deal isn't reached by midnight tomorrow, when the contract expires, then 16 million homes around the country, including much of New York, will be without not only NBC but MSNBC, Bravo, E!, USA and Syfy. There have seen some stuff to rally people against the cable company and in pushing shows people won't be able to see, they have mentioned Raw, Smackdown ad Total Divas. Usually these things get worked out because the contract would expire before Sunday Night Football which is a huge show.

-There is a weird story as a Go Fund Me was set up for John Yurnet, who wrestled on Tuesday night's 205 Live show against Mustafa Ali and apparently blew his knee out. He's trying to raise $10,000 in medical expenses for an MRI and surgery. As of this morning they had raised $1,995. It's weird because WWE usually covers injuries to talent, but Yurnet is not under a WWE contract, although he wrestled in a WWE ring. There is also a lot of talk that Yurnet was injured before the match and not on the first spot of the match as was first said.

-There was a brief injury scare with Bo Dallas last night in Boston. The report was that they stopped his match early and the ref gave an "X" sign, but he seemed okay after because his gimmick all week is that after losing in a multiple person match, he then challenges anyone from the back to come out and refuses to leave the ring. Big Show then knocks him out. And after the match was stopped, he did recover and issued the challenge spot.

-Alberto El Patron and brother Guillermo as El Hijo de Dos Caras arrived Wednesday in Austria for a show today in Leoben. They held a press conference yesterday at the Schwarzenegger Museum in Graz (where Schwarzenegger is from). Alberto then attended the local hockey team's game and had a seminar yesterday. Paige was not on this trip even though he did say on Instagram a few days earlier she was coming. Chris Raaber, the promoter, faces Joe Doering, coming back from brain cancer, in the main event for their title. More than 600 tickets were sold in advance which is a great number for a small Austrian promotion.

-WWE officials have confirmed that Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker are being advertised locally for the January 9th Raw episode in New Orleans and will be appearing on the show

The appearance is expected to build something for the Royal Rumble three weeks later in San Antonio.

Undertaker was largely expected on the show in some form, perhaps in the Rumble itself. The only other role that would make sense, a match with AJ Styles, seems to be set for John Cena instead. The destination for WrestleMania was as of a few days ago most likely Undertaker vs. Cena, but at the time Vince McMahon was not 100 percent with that match but leaning in that direction.

A Michaels appearance at the Rumble in some form was expected because it was being held at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Michaels is the biggest wrestling star who is a native of San Antonio, and is currently working for WWE as a coach in Orlando, Florida.

It is unclear what role Michaels will play in the show. Michaels retired in 2010 after losing to The Undertaker at WrestleMania and has insisted for years that he wouldn't wrestle in another match. There are a number of different roles, from referee to enforcer to a second where he could be a major part of the show if he's not wrestling. Styles had said that he would have liked to face Michaels, but with Cena earmarked for that match, that doesn't appear likely.

-John Cena and Roman Reigns went back and forth on Twitter yesterday after Reigns responded to a video of him laughing in a match with Kevin Owens by saying he was laughing at Owens’ merch check. Cena first sent a tweet to Reigns with a video of him working out at Georgia Tech, where Reigns played football in college:

“While @WWERomanReigns was making fun of what people earn I was at @GeorgiaTechFB to #EarnTheDay #recognize.”

And then Reigns responded to Cena:

"What I #recognize is you have no clue whats going on here. So just power clean and make sure you clean your weights up. #GuestInMyHouse"

-Tommy End spoke in an interview about his background in kickboxing and his road to WWE.

Count down to the year's end and towards the Royal Rumble right here, so don't 'cha dare miss it!
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Happy new year! Here is the first update of 2017!

General sources are as normally credited to http://www.f4wonline.com/ and http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/news.html and http://fightnetwork.com/ and http://www.411mania.com/wrestling and http://www.pwi-online.com and http://www.thescore.com/trending while please also note that all news and rumours are subject to updates and changes.

NXT Takeover on Saturday, January 28, 2017 from San Antonio, Texas

Additional Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NXT_TakeOver:_San_Antonio

*NXT Championship Match: Shinsuke Nakamura (C) vs. Bobby Roode
*NXT Tag Team Championship Match: #DIY (C-Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa) vs. The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar w/ Paul Ellering)
*Fatal Four-Way Match for the NXT Women's Championship: Asuka (C) vs. Billie Kay vs. Peyton Royce vs. Nikki Cross

Royal Rumble on Sunday, January 29, 2017 from San Antonio, Texas - UPDATED PPV CARD

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/royalrumble and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Rumble_(2017)

*2017 Royal Rumble 30-Man Match
NOTE: 15 Raw and 15 SmackDown participants will be entered. The winner gets a world championship match at WrestleMania 33.
Participants Announced: Goldberg (RAW), Brock Lesnar (RAW), New Day's Kofi Kingston (RAW), New Day's Big E (RAW), New Day's Xavier Woods (RAW), Chris Jericho (RAW), Braun Strowman (RAW), Baron Corbin (SD)
*WWE Universal Championship Match: Kevin Owens (C) vs. The United States Champion Roman Reigns
NOTE: Chris Jericho will be suspended above the ring during this match inside a steel shark cage.
*WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (C) vs. John Cena
*Raw Women's Championship Match: Charlotte (C) vs. Bayley

-The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels are both being advertised for Raw on January 9th in New Orleans, Louisiana. Brock Lesnar is being advertised for the January 16th episode of Raw in Little Rock, Arkansas. Along with this week's Raw in Tampa, Bill Goldberg is also advertised for the January 23rd show in Cleveland.

-There is an ongoing carriage dispute between Charter Communications and NBC Universal, which includes the USA Network and E! The dispute has led to NBC mounting a campaign to urge viewers to demand that Charter Spectrum comes to an agreement with NBC or else there will be a blackout that will impact 17 million Charter Spectrum subscribers. On Saturday night, NBC released a statement that the talks have been extended as the deadline was initially set for Midnight on New Year’s Eve. A blackout would have a big impact on Sunday’s NFL games, including the Sunday night game and would affect Monday night’s episode of Raw as well if a blackout is enforced. The latest is that the talks got extended past midnight and negotiations are still ongoing but yet to be resolved.

'NBC statement sent out at 6:40 tonight: "Negotiations with Charter Spectrum for the NBCUniversal portfolio of networks have been extended." '

-Heidi Lovelace did an interview and noted it was her last show with the promotion (she and Kimber Lee are both headed to WWE) and thanked Danny Daniels for giving her the chance to compete and that whatever success she gets in wrestling was because of AAW. She was fighting back tears and thanking people for her being able to call AAW her home promotion. For Lovelace and Lee, it was both of their last indie shows.

-WWE is bringing WrestleMania back to New Orleans in 2018.

F4WOnline.com has confirmed that the city's Superdome will once again be home to WWE's biggest event of the year as WrestleMania 34 takes place in Louisiana. An official announcement is expected shortly.

The building was the location of WrestleMania 30, where Daniel Bryan's journey to the WWE Championship culminated in him first defeating Triple H in the show's opener and then beating Bautista and Randy Orton in a triple threat main event to win the title. That show also featured Brock Lesnar ending The Undertaker's WrestleMania undefeated streak, an in-ring promo segment with Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, and The Rock, John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt, and Cesaro winning the first Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

It seems that WWE liked their time in the city, as they're bringing WrestleMania back just four years later. New Orleans has long been a destination location that people will flock to for big events and the Super Bowl is held at the Superdome fairly regularly.

Before WrestleMania makes its way to New Orleans again in 2018, this year's show will be held at Camping World Stadium (the former Citrus Bowl) in Orlando, Florida on April 2nd.

On Sunday night, Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet first reported confirmation that New Orleans would host WrestleMania 34.

**UPDATES for Jan.3/17**

- Goldberg is currently scheduled to appear after tonight on the January 23rd episode right before the Royal Rumble.

-The WWE Network debuted a new show called “Bring it to the Table” that will be hosted by Peter Rosenberg with Paul Heyman and JBL debating various topics. Rosenberg worked on the pre-show panel prior to TLC last month and works with HOT 97 out of New York and ESPN. They sent out a screen shot of the show via Rosenberg's Twitter account with a PTI style menu of topics that included: Bret Hart and Three Hours of Raw.

The WWE has consistently used the post-Raw time slot on the Network to migrate viewers over from that show to debut new programming. No indication has been given as to whether "Bring it to the Table" will become a regular series at some point. The Network schedule describes the show as:

"Immediately following Raw Peter Rosenberg brings the questions and concerns of the WWE Universe to the table in this fast paced discussion and debate with WWE insiders, Paul Heyman and John ‘Bradshaw’ Layfield."

-It was reported on Sunday by Ryan Satin at Pro Wrestling Sheet that WrestleMania 34 is expected to take place from New Orleans, Louisiana in 2018. The location was decided a few days ago prior but that the announcement is expected for next Tuesday in the city (Raw is in New Orleans next Monday and would make sense timing wise to make the announcement either Monday or Tuesday). It is a quick return to the city as New Orleans hosted WrestleMania in 2014 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

-At Raw shown on screen Jameis Winston and Gerald McCoy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were at ringside.

-Next week it was announced officially that the Undertaker returns to Raw. And Shawn Michaels will be back, as well.

-Paige and Alberto Del Rio were at the Raw show earlier in the day. Del Rio came to pick her up. She was backstage being talked with about how her recovery from her neck surgery is going.

-Regarding the contract issues with Spectrum Cable and NBC, where the contract expired on 12/31 and the sides were apart in talks, both sides are still carrying the shows right now to keep service uninterrupted, so Raw was available in the same amount of the country as usual.

-"Moana," starring Dwayne Johnson opened at No. 2 in Australia with a $5,115,137 gross. In the U.S., even though it's been out six weeks, it was still No. 4 this past weekend.

-Lilian Garcia sang the national anthem at the Los Angeles Rams game on Sunday.

-On SmackDown along with the Intercontinental Championship Match between The Miz and Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles and John Cena will have a contract signing for their WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble PPV.

-Tajiri will return on 205 Live and TJ Perkins takes on Neville.

-Mike Tyson and Sting will be the headliners for The Big Event autograph signing on 3/12 in Queens NY. Also appearing are Jerry Lawler, Billy Gunn, Road Dogg, Cody Rhodes, Sean Waltman, Kamala, Demolition, Gene Okerlund, Lita, Sid Vicious, Abyss, Crazzy Steve, Rosemary, Melina, and Koko B. Ware.

-On SmackDown next week, John Cena will take on Baron Corbin, Nikki Bella takes on Natalya and there will be a Tag Team Championship Rematch between the new champs American Alpha and the Wyatt Family.

-At http://www.bardown.com/wwe-s-braun-strowman-doesn-t-hold-back-on-his-tinder-profile-1.643269 Braun Strowman got a piece about his Tinder profile.

-It had become increasingly apparent over the last year that Jimmy Snuka was unlikely to ever stand trial in the 1983 death of Nancy Argentino.

That was seemingly confirmed on Tuesday when Judge Kelly L. Banach of Lehigh County dismissed the charges of third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter that had been leveled against Snuka.

Judge Banach cited Snuka's deteriorating mental state when dismissing the charges and had previously ruled last June that the former wrestling star wasn't mentally competent enough to stand trial.

After decades of speculation over his involvement in Argentino's death, Snuka was charged in September 2015. The two had been romantically involved prior to her death, which Snuka claimed was the result of her falling down.

The case had been reopened in 2014 due to reporting by the Allentown Morning Call about unanswered questions surrounding Argentino's death. The Morning Call story uncovered an autopsy report that concluded that Argentino's death should have been investigated as a homicide until proven otherwise because of the cuts and contusions found on her body that were potentially signs of "male abuse."

-Finn Balor spoke to ESPN about the upcoming UK Championship tournament and how being in NJPW can help Will Ospreay become a better performer.

-WWE uploaded a clip from last night’s debut episode of Bring it to the Table with JBL and Paul Heyman defending three-hour episodes of Raw.

-Former WWE and ESPN personality Todd Grisham will be joining the UFC broadcast team later this month.

**UPDATES for Jan.4/17**

-At http://www.bardown.com/at-the-age-of-67-wwe-legend-ric-flair-can-deadlift-400-pounds-1.643870 is a piece on Ric Flair still doing weights at age 67.

-Raw ratings on Monday were up to 3.04 million viewers, an increase of seven percent, likely due to a combination of Bill Goldberg's appearance keeping the third hour from too much of a decline and slightly easier football competition.

The one notable difference is that the second hour was the highest instead of the first hour. The usual pattern is first hour highest in the winter and second hour in the summer due to daylight savings time. The difference was the first hour and early second hour went against the Rose Bowl game with Penn State vs. USC which did 15.74 million viewers, which is more than almost all NFL games have been doing against Raw.

Much of the second hour and all of the third hour went against the lower-rated Sugar Bowl game with Auburn vs. Oklahoma, which did 9.52 million viewers, which is lower than most NFL games have been doing on Monday.

Last week's show went against the Cowboys-Lions NFL game that did 18.61 million viewers, the best of the season.

Raw finished 8th for the day on cable, trailing only college football related programming on ESPN, and beating all the news channels, which were way down.

It was the most-watched Raw since the November 28th show headlined by the Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks women's title match.

Next week, going against the college football championship game, will be the last episode against football until the fall. The traditional bounce-back show should be on January 16th.

The three hours were:

8 p.m. 3.04 million viewers
9 p.m. 3.16 million viewers
10 p.m. 2.94 million viewers

-Seth Rollins tweeted about Wrestle Kingdom 11 today:

“Pretty awesome to see professional wrestling on all levels alive and well all over the world. #wrestlekingdom11”

Tyson Kidd, Natalya and Cesaro posted all night that they were also up watching the event live.

-Matching the suspension that he got from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, USADA announced on Wednesday that Brock Lesnar has been suspended for one year for his drug test failures surrounding UFC 200.

**UPDATES for Jan.6/17**

-It is believed that Diamond Dallas Page will be one of the WWE Hall of Fame inductees this year. It's not official yet, but it is expected that "Ravishing" Rick Rude will be a 2017 WWE Hall of Fame inductee.

-WWE announced that four women have reported to its training facility: Kimberly Frankele -- Kimber Lee in the indy world; Dori Prange who is better known as Heidi Lovelace; MaryKate Duignan Glidewell who worked as Andréa; and former mixed martial artist Julia Ho.

-Shawn Michaels will be at Raw next week,, January 9th, at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. He's promoting his upcoming movie The Resurrection of Gavin Stone that hits theaters on January 20.

-At the NXT television tapings on Thursday night, Chris Hero (Chris Spradlin) made his return to the company and will be going by his former NXT moniker of Kassius Ohno.

Ohno interrupted Shinsuke Nakamura at the close of the tapings and confronted him in the ring with the tease of a future match between the two. It is unknown if this will be airing on television or not.

It was first reported in December by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Hero was in the process of having his medical test done by the WWE and if all went well, he would be returning to the company. Hero addressed the rumors at a Pro Wrestling Guerilla show last month and acknowledged the rumors but that nothing was final yet.

He was with the company from 2012 until his release at the end of 2013 and has been one of the top performers in the world over the past three years.

Triple H posted a picture with Hero on Twitter and welcomed him back to WWE. Gabe Sapolsky also announced that EVOLVE would be saying goodbye to Hero at their two shows in San Antonio, Texas over Royal Rumble weekend on January 27th and 28th.

The WWE uploaded video of Hero making his return.

-Also at the NXT tapings, #DIY retained the tag championship to now face the Authors of Pain at NXT Takeover while William Regal announced a fatal four-way NXT Women's Championship match at TakeOver: San Antonio with Asuka defending against Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, and SAnitY's Nikki Cross.

-Following their one-week win over Raw, Smackdown fell back down this week with 2,596,000 viewers watching the show on Tuesday night on the USA Network. Raw was well ahead this week with 3,040,000 watching on Monday night with the football competition reduced without a NFL game and instead faced the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl games. This was the lowest audience number for the show since December 13th, but it was still above the 2.492 million viewers the show has been averaging since moving to Tuesday night.

There was stronger than usual competition from cable, as SmackDown was 10th on the night in total viewers and 3rd in the 18-49 demo with a 0.88 rating. The broadcast networks were also back to original programming after airing repeats the last few weeks during the holiday season.

SmackDown returned to retaining about 85 percent of the week's Raw audience, which the show has been averaging since the WWE draft last summer.

Next week will be a tough one for Raw as they go up against the college National championship game while Smackdown is promoting John Cena’s first match back on television since his return.

-The WWE has announced that Mark Andrews has been added to the U.K. tournament next weekend in Blackpool, England. The tournament will be airing at 3pm Eastern on the WWE Network on Saturday January 14th and Sunday January 15th. Andrews is likely best known to fans in the United States for his time in TNA, where he wrestled for the past few years in the company's X Division as Mandrews. His contract in TNA runs out in a few days.

A native of Wales, Andrews has become one of the many bright stars that the UK scene has produced during its recent revival. He has also wrestled stateside for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla the past two years, featuring in both the 2015 and 2016 Battle of Los Angeles tournaments. When in the UK, he's a regular of popular promotion PROGRESS Wrestling.

The WWE UK Championship tournament is set to take place at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool over two days later this month. It will kick off on January 14th before crowning the inaugural champion on the 15th. Triple H has expressed optimism that the shows could lead to a weekly series from the UK on the Network.

Nigel McGuinness will make his WWE debut on commentary over those two days as he joins Michael Cole in the broadcast booth. At https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWE_United_Kingdom_Championship_Tournament all of the participants can be located.

After adding Mark Andrews to the field, WWE followed up by revealing the full list of competitors for the upcoming United Kingdom Championship tournament.

Another addition was made when WWE released the participants, with Martin Stone joining the 16-person field. Stone was formerly in WWE developmental earlier this decade and is returning after gaining more notoriety on the independent scene. He'll go by his old in-ring name with WWE listing him as Danny Burch.

Missing from those who originally appeared to be possible participants are Tiger Ali, Chris Tyler, Ringo Ryan, and Jack Starz. They are presumably alternates for the tournament.

The two shows will take place on January 14th and 15th at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool with the first UK Champion being crowned at their conclusion. Nigel McGuinness and Michael Cole will call the action live on the WWE Network.

The full list of competitors for the tournament is:

Trent Seven
Danny Burch
H.C. Dyer
Pete Dunne
Wolfgang
Jordan Devlin
Sam Gradwell
Tyler Bate
James Drake
Tucker
Tyson T-Bone
Joseph Conners
Dan Moloney
Roy Johnson
Mark Andrews
Saxon Huxley

-The WWE stock closed at $18.63 on Thursday.

-Presale for the 3/12 afternoon house show in Madison Square Garden is going on now and ends at 10 p.m. tomorrow with the code WWEMSG.

-Along with The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels returning to television, next week's Raw will also feature a handicap match for the United States Championship.

WWE announced on Friday afternoon that Reigns would defend his US title against both Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho simultaneously on Monday's show. Reigns has successfully defended the title against Jericho and Owens individually on Raw in recent weeks.

Reigns is also scheduled to challenge Owens for the WWE Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas later this month. Jericho will be suspended above the ring in a shark cage after the ongoing storyline has seen him interfere in Owens' matches to help him retain the title.

Three matches have also been announced for next week's SmackDown, with John Cena making his in-ring return against Baron Corbin, American Alpha defending their tag titles against The Wyatt Family, and Nikki Bella facing Natalya.

Next week's Raw will take place in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Dave Meltzer noted in this week's edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that the official announcement that the city will host WrestleMania 34 in 2018 is expected to be made at a press conference on Tuesday.

The show will face considerable competition as it goes against the college football championship game between Alabama and Clemson. Last year's game drew 26.2 million viewers and the year before did 33.8 million viewers, about double what the weekly NFL game does.

**UPDATES for Jan.7/17**

-There is a grassroots campaign going on to have the city of Hamilton, Ontario create and erect a statue of "Canada's Greatest Athlete", former WWE star Iron Mike Sharpe.

-The WWE’s Raw crew was in Columbus, Georgia Thursday night for a house show and Montgomery, Alabama on Saturday with Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins vs. Rusev listed. The Smackdown crew started on Saturday night in Bossier City, Louisiana with AJ Styles vs. John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler in the main event for the WWE title.

Sunday has WWE Raw in Mobile, AL and Smackdown in Lafayette, LA. For this weekend, it's basically the usual Raw and Smackdown crews. Chris Jericho is only advertised for Mobile and television, but not the other shows. Randy Orton has the weekend off but will be at television on Tuesday. All the other top stars, including John Cena, are booked for all of the shows.

-The move in timeslot has led to a big increase in viewership for Total Divas. After having last week off, the show returned this week and did a season-high 734,000 viewers on Wednesday night on E! This number topped the season premiere on November 16th by 10,000 viewers.

-The WWE stock closed at $18.46 on Friday.

-Dean Ambrose went back home in Cincinnati on Friday for the Cavalcade of Customs auto show.

-It didn't take very long for Chris Hero to make his WWE in-ring return after returning to the company at Thursday's NXT TV tapings.

Hero wrestled in a WWE ring for the first time in over three years at Friday night's NXT house show in Largo, Florida. Hero was again referred to as Kassius Ohno despite wearing his basketball-inspired Chris Hero ring gear, and defeated Andrade "Cien" Almas in his first match back.

Dave Meltzer reported last month that Hero was set to return to WWE at the start of 2017 if everything went right with his medicals and pre-signing process. Hero confronted NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura at the conclusion of yesterday's tapings before stepping out of the ring without incident. Triple H then posted a picture with Hero on Twitter after the show was over.

What's next for Hero in NXT remains to be seen, but he will be in San Antonio over Royal Rumble weekend as he wrestles his final matches for EVOLVE Wrestling. Hero will face Zack Sabre Jr. in his final EVOLVE match on January 28th. He can wrestle but he's shown on the indys he can also be a great color commentator if they move Corey Graves fully to the main roster and relieve him of his NXT duties.

-With the United Kingdom Championship tournament taking place next weekend, WWE will be airing a preview show on the Network after Raw on Monday that showcases the competitors and focuses on how the tournament came together.

-Nigel McGuinness participated in his first official WWE photo shoot ahead of the tournament.

-WWE’s Michelle Wilson said that the WWE Network offering downloadable content and offline viewing is “definitely on the roadmap.”

**UPDATES for Jan.8/17**

-Earlier this week, WWE Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer Michelle Wilson spoke at the Variety Entertainment at CES. Wilson was interviewed about the evolution of the WWE Network and stated that downloadable content and offline viewing is “definitely on the road map” for the WWE Network and following in the footsteps of Netflix in offering content to be downloaded. Wilson added that the WWE is planning to expand the network into more countries in 2018 as well.

-Tommy End’s new name in NXT is Aleister Black and worked under the name at Saturday’s event in Ocala, Florida.

-The WWE will be returning to Toronto for a Raw house show on Saturday March 11th with tickets going on sale this Friday at the Ricoh Coliseum.

-John Cena got a lot of attention by posting a photo of Kenny Omega on his Instagram account. The note is that he did the same thing last year with a photo of AJ Styles. The difference is that was before the Rumble and it was common knowledge Styles was with WWE and debuting shortly. Kenny Omega's contract with NJPW also wouldn't expire until January 31st this year unless they re-sign him.

-Enzo Amore suffered a legit knee injury on 12/30 in Los Angeles. He was on the road this weekend in Cass' corner but was limping pretty heavily. No timetable for a return past he will be reevaluated in two weeks.

-Baron Corbin has been moved to house main eventer this week. The Smackdown brand main events are now A.J. Styles vs. Corbin vs. John Cena. Dean Ambrose had been in the three-way main events, but he's now working with new heel Dolph Ziggler.

Get all of your news to kick off 2017 on the WWE here, so don't 'cha dare miss it!
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It's a busy week as the road to the Royal Rumble continues. Tonight Raw takes place from New Orleans at the Smoothie King Center (right across the street from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome) and will feature Roman Reigns defending the U.S. title against Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho in a handicap match. The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels are both scheduled for the show tonight as well. Michaels is promoting “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” WWE Studios’ film and ‘Taker is expected to be shooting some sort of angle for the Royal Rumble and would expect that ‘Taker ends up in the Rumble match. Check out the news now leading into tonight's show and the rest of the week1

General sources are as normally credited to http://www.f4wonline.com/ and http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/news.html and http://fightnetwork.com/ and http://www.411mania.com/wrestling and http://www.pwi-online.com and http://www.thescore.com/trending while please also note that all news and rumours are subject to updates and changes.

NXT Takeover on Saturday, January 28, 2017 from San Antonio, Texas

Additional Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NXT_TakeOver:_San_Antonio

*NXT Championship Match: Shinsuke Nakamura (C) vs. Bobby Roode
*NXT Tag Team Championship Match: #DIY (C-Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa) vs. The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar w/ Paul Ellering)
*Fatal Four-Way Match for the NXT Women's Championship: Asuka (C) vs. Billie Kay vs. Peyton Royce vs. Nikki Cross

Royal Rumble on Sunday, January 29, 2017 from San Antonio, Texas - UPDATED PPV CARD

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/royalrumble and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Rumble_(2017)

*2017 Royal Rumble 30-Man Match
NOTE: 15 Raw and 15 SmackDown participants will be entered. The winner gets a world championship match at WrestleMania 33.
Participants Announced: Goldberg (RAW), Brock Lesnar (RAW), New Day's Kofi Kingston (RAW), New Day's Big E (RAW), New Day's Xavier Woods (RAW), Chris Jericho (RAW), Braun Strowman (RAW), Seth Rollins (RAW), Baron Corbin (SD), The Undertaker (SD), Dean Ambrose (SD), The Miz (SD), Dolph Ziggler (SD)
*WWE Universal Championship Match: Kevin Owens (C) vs. Roman Reigns
NOTE: The United States Champion Chris Jericho will be suspended above the ring during this match inside a steel shark cage.
*WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (C) vs. John Cena
*Raw Women's Championship Match: Charlotte (C) vs. Bayley
*WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Rich Swann (C) vs. Neville

-Raw has big competition from the College National Championship game tonight between Alabama and Clemson. Next week Raw is clear of all football competition until September.

- Smackdown has a house show on Monday in Lake Charles, LA.

-Smackdown and 205 Live on Tuesday are from Baton Rouge, LA. Matches on Smackdown will be John Cena vs. Baron Corbin, Jason Jordan & Chad Gable vs. The Wyatt Family for the tag team titles and Nikki Bella vs. Natalya.

-The WWE Network will be airing a preview show for this weekend’s U.K. tournament after Raw tonight.

-The WWE officially announced today that WrestleMania 34 will take place on Sunday April 8th 2018 from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The news was broken last week by Ryan Satin at Pro Wrestling Sheet that the event would be returning to New Orleans after only four-years since the 2014 event. A press conference will be held in the city on Tuesday with representatives from the company on hand. The Times-Picayune in New Orleans stated that Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Governor John Bel Edwards are expected to attend the press conference on Tuesday.

New Orleans got the news only a few weeks ago. City officials went to the WWE in early 2016 with a presentation, which included a taped video using Drew Brees to try and convince WWE officials to give them the bid.

New Orleans city officials pushed that WrestleMania would be promoted by the city as part of its tricentennial year celebration. New Orleans was open to future years, since it just housed the event in 2014, but really pushed the celebration year angle to WWE officials.

The decision was made only a few weeks ago, rather than months ahead of the public announcement, which is why it only recently leaked out.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the event will include an NXT show at the Smoothie King Center on April 6th and Raw on April 9th. It's also expected that there will be a Hall of Fame show on April 7th and SmackDown on April 10th.

A useless trivia fact: April 8th of next year will be the latest that WrestleMania has ever taken place in April. It's to avoid falling on Easter weekend which is funny enough on April Fool's Day that year.

-Very sad news today about the passing of 9-year old Elijah Mainville. He was a WWE fan that sent in a Tough Enough audition video last year and was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma in 2010. The WWE brought him to a Raw taping and did a contract signing before the show with Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and Stardust in the ring in front of the crowd and gave him the name “Drax Shadow”. A lot of wrestlers were tweeting about him on Sunday and it’s a very sad story and one would imagine it will be mentioned on Raw tonight.

-The WWE has released the brackets for the U.K. tournament and will feature the following opening round matches:

*Tyler Bate vs. Tucker
*Danny Burch vs. Jordan Devlin
*Trent Seven vs. H.C. Dyer
*Tyson T-Bone vs. Wolfgang
*Mark Andrews vs. Dan Moloney
*Joseph Connors vs. James Drake
*Pete Dunne vs. Roy Johnson
*Sam Gradwell vs. Saxon Huxley

-Mick Foley posted his comments about the Okada vs. Omega match:

"1) The bar has been set VERY high for 2017 match of the year.
2) This is one of the greatest matches I have ever seen. If the Dynamite Kid vs Tiger Mask and Flair vs Steamboat classics had a baby, it’s name would be Omega vs Okada.
3) Kenny Omega is out of this world. He might be the perfect combination of wrestler/sports entertainer in the business.
4) If there was an award for best performance by a prop, the table in this match would win in a landslide. I don’t think I have ever seen a table better teased or better utilized, leading to one of the greatest payoff crowd reactions I’ve ever witnessed. On its own, it may not stand out from other remarkable table spots – but within the context of the match, it was just incredible.
4) This is probably not the best choice if you are trying to get to sleep late at night. #OmegaVsOkada may be many things, but it is NOT a cure for late night insomnia."

-Kenny Omega would've been the talk of the pro wrestling world after his instant classic against Kazuchika Okada at the Tokyo Dome regardless of what he did going forward.

But following two tweets where he claimed to be "stepping away from Japan" to reassess his future, speculation over what's next for Omega has only increased since the immediate fallout of the Wrestle Kingdom 11 main event.

That speculation grew when John Cena posted a picture of Omega on his Instagram account yesterday. And Cena again seemed to mention Omega on that platform today, while also following him on Twitter.

Omega further elaborated on his future in interviews with Sports Illustrated's Justin Barrasso and Tokyo Sports (thanks to a translation from Japanese Audio Wrestling's Chris Charlton). In the SI interview, Omega addressed what's next for him in wrestling.

“I’m leaving to consider my future options,” Omega said. “Returning so quickly after a huge loss would be unwise. I’m finding my next plan of attack in wrestling rather than blindly rushing forward just to be in a ring.”

Omega also seemed to share a mutual admiration with Cena.

“John Cena is one of the great WWE talents that I respect most,” said Omega. “If I were to end up there, working with someone of his caliber would certainly be a goal and jive with my mission of changing wrestling. I’m glad to be on his radar, but I haven’t made any decisions regarding my future yet.”

While closing the interview, Omega claimed that he hasn't yet signed a new contract with any promotion.

“I fear that everyone has taken my words too literally," Omega said. "Yes, I’m out of the country and off of shows, but I haven’t signed any new contracts yet. After such a huge loss, I didn’t want to just hang around and take part in meaningless matches. I’m only interested in changing the business, so I’m thinking carefully about what’s next.”

No matter what's to come for Omega, all of his comments have seemed to be layered in kayfabe. That was true for the Tokyo Sports interview as well, where Omega noted that he has to rethink things after his Dome loss and said that he would be taking time off from NJPW.

Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez discussed Omega's situation on Sunday night's edition of Wrestling Observer Radio. Meltzer said that he's been told by a number of people that Omega is under contract with NJPW and would be returning to the company in March, but didn't think Cena's social media antics were done without purpose.

If Omega hasn't renewed with NJPW, his original deal with the company had been set to expire at the end of this month.

-Big Damo’s NXT moniker will be Killian Dain.

-Nigel McGuinness spoke to WWE.com about joining the company and serving as a commentator for this weekend’s U.K. tournament. McGuiness stated that as a performer he always believed he would make it to the WWE but in the past 3-4 years when he was retired, he felt that he wasn’t ever going to come to the WWE. McGuinness cited Kevin Kelly and Jim Cornette as people that helped him transition into a broadcasting position with Ring of Honor and finding his own voice as a commentator. It was also a landmark interview as one would believe McGuinness was the first WWE personality to ever quote F. Scott Fitzgerald during an interview.

-The WWE stock closed at $18.76 on Monday.

**UPDATES for Jan 10/17**

-At http://slam.canoe.com/Slam/Wrestling/2017/01/10/22696067.html is a piece on the passing of Rex King who was one half of the tag team Well Dunn in the WWF. Timothy Smith, who wrestled as Rex King and Timothy Well of the tag team Well Dunn in WWF, passed away on Monday at 55 years old. Chris Jericho donated the entire initial goal of $2,500 to a GoFundMe that had been set up by his family.

-Brock Lesnar was at the Winnipeg Jets game against the Calgary Flames last night, wearing a Jets jersey. It can be seen at http://www.bardown.com/brock-lesnar-was-the-special-guest-at-the-winnipeg-jets-game-1.647224

-There is a new international trailer for Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's upcoming Baywatch movie.

-During his segment on Raw, The Undertaker announced he would be the latest entrant in this year’s Royal Rumble match on January 29th at The Alamodome in San Antonio.

The appearance was teased throughout the show with Mick Foley needing to produce The Undertaker or risk failing his job evaluation by Stephanie McMahon and teasing that Foley would be fired.

McMahon confronted Foley and was then interrupted by The Undertaker’s music.

He explained he wasn’t controlled by anyone to get around the brand split and his recent appearance on SmackDown last November before the Survivor Series.

It was also announced earlier in the day that Seth Rollins in also in the Rumble match and joins Bill Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, Braun Storwman, New Day and Baron Corbin.

The announcers noted that it was ten-years ago that Undertaker won the Rumble, which also took place in San Antonio.

-Going up against the College Football Playoff National Championship game, Raw held up fairly well with approximately 2,907,000 viewers watching Monday’s show on the USA Network. This was only down slightly from last week’s average of 3,040,000 viewers.

The show was strengthened through the promotion of The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels appearing on the program with the tease throughout the first two-hours of the show of ‘Taker showing up.

The opening hour averaged 3,014,000 and stayed consistent in the second hour with 3,019,000 and then experienced a drop down to 2,689,000 for the final hour and the main event with Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho.

The football game did 24,391,000 between Alabama and Clemson and way above what any Monday Night Football game does.

Raw is now free of football competition until September when the NFL returns.

Next week’s edition of Raw features Brock Lesnar on the show and then January 23rd episode will feature both Lesnar and Bill Goldberg, prior to the Royal Rumble.

-At http://www.bardown.com/the-xfl-30-for-30-trailer-is-here-and-it-s-incredible-1.647492 is the trailer for ESPN's 30 for 30 trailer on the XFL.

-At http://www.thescore.com/nfl/news/1205268-brady-impersonates-the-rock-while-promoting-his-healing-pajamas NFL New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady does a new healing pyjamas ad imitating the Rock.

-At the first official press conference to hype the upcoming “Triple G” Gennady Golovkin-Daniel Jacobs boxing fight at Madison Square Garden, both the Garden and HBO thanked World Wrestling Entertainment for their flexibility in moving an event already scheduled on March 18.

According to MSG Executive Vice President of Marquee Events and Operations Joe Fisher, to make the fight happen, WWE needed to move a show they already had booked that night in the building.

“A lot of you don’t know this, but I really need to thank the WWE. Everybody says ‘why the WWE?’ Well, we had an event booked on March 18, with the WWE, and they are just tremendous partners. They realized the magnitude of this event. And the fact that we needed to have it here. It had to be at Madison Square Garden. So with their cooperation, and partnership, they were willing to move off the date, and made this date possible. So I really, really want to thank all the great people at WWE.”

Later, Peter Nelson, EVP of HBO Sports, also showed his appreciation, adding, “I want to echo Joel’s moments about the WWE, and the spirit of partnership that they shared in moving an event so that this event could take place in its natural habitat.”

The fight was announced on December 17, and features two guys known for their power. Featuring Golovkin, one of the sport’s top pound-for-pound fighters, the bout could become boxing’s Fight of the Year, as well as its best selling pay-per-view.

**UPDATES for Jan.11/17**

-Vince McMahon was pictured on crutches at the press conference in New Orleans on Tuesday to promote that WrestleMania 34 will be taking place in the city in 2018. WWE uploaded a playlist of videos from the event.

-Brock Lesnar will return to WWE TV in person on next week's Raw. On SmackDown there will be a steel cage match for the Women's Championship between the champion Alexa Bliss and challenger Becky Lynch.

-AJ Styles will be on ESPN Sportscentre on Thursday.

-Universal acquired "The Pact" (which features John Cena in a role) for an April 20th, 2018 release.

-WWE.com has an article on Andy Shepherd, who will be the ring announcer for the UK tournament this weekend.

-Mark Hunt today filed a lawsuit in Nevada District Court against the UFC, Brock Lesnar, and Dana White.

ESPN's Brett Okamoto reported the story. It's a landmark case because Hunt is claiming that the defendants "affirmatively circumvented and obstructed fair competition for their own benefit."

Hunt had been threatening legal action, feeling that his career has been harmed by facing people who have cheated. Hunt was upset because he felt Lesnar was not punished enough for a failed drug test before their fight took place, and that he went into the cage without knowledge that Lesnar had already failed a test, as the result of a June 28th test didn't come back until after the July 9th fight.

The tough aspect of this case is that Lesnar failed for Hydroxy Clomiphene, and not for steroids or another PED. So while there are two failed tests, on June 28th and July 9th, there is no evidence that specifically ties Lesnar to PED usage for the Hunt fight.

Lesnar is currently serving a one-year suspension from UFC competition as well as within commission states that license pro fighters and wrestlers due to the positive tests.

-Fred Ottman -- Tugboat, Typhoon, Shockmaster, etc. -- has been hospitalized. His wife, Sheila, posted an update to Facebook:

"Thank you all for all the prayers. Fred is awake this morning and talking .He is still very weak and sick but will be better in a few days. God is so good to him. Everyone has asked could r hey call or come or send a card .Yes Yes Yes !!! He is at St . Anthony's Hospital in St Petersburg Florida .His address to send a card is 145 5th ave north St Petersburg Florida 33701. Thanks for all the calls and prayers."

-At http://www.bardown.com/shaquille-o-neal-puts-in-intense-workout-before-calling-out-big-show-1.648052 is Shaq promoting the upcoming Wrestlemania match set with the Big Show.

-At http://www.thescore.com/nfl/news/1205807-the-rock-jokingly-slams-brady-s-attempt-to-get-him-to-wear-healing-pajamas the Rock responded to Tom Brady's new ad where he imitated the Rock.

-At http://www.thescore.com/news/1206049-saints-superfan-jarrius-steals-show-at-wrestlemania-34-announcement is a piece on Saints Superfan Jarrius at the Wrestlemania 34 announcement.

-When SmackDown beat Raw in the ratings for the first time since the brand split during the final week of 2016, the immediate question became when the show would do it again.

This week seemed to present an outside chance that it would with Raw going against the college football national title game, but appearances by The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels helped that show stay near normal ratings levels and above SmackDown this week.

Tuesday night's episode was watched by an average of 2.533 million viewers, which was topped by the 2.89 million who watched Raw on Monday night. The difference between viewership for the shows was close to where it is most weeks, with SmackDown retaining 87 percent on the Raw audience.

SmackDown ratings were down slightly from last week's 2.596 million viewers. Tuesday night's show didn't face much sports competition, but the second hour went against President Obama's farewell address to the nation.

-Goldberg is officially being advertised by the Bradley Center in Milwaukee for Fastlane on March 5th. Dave Meltzer reported in last week's edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Goldberg was scheduled to wrestle on the show.

-Jack Gallagher and Ariya Daivari participated in their parley on last night's 205 Live, which resulted in them agreeing to wrestle in an "I Forfeit" match down the road.

-John Cena again seemed to reference Kenny Omega on Instagram today. Cena first posted a picture of an O and then posted another one of Mega Man.

**UPDATES for Jan.13/17**

-Michael Cole is already in the U.K. doing promotional work for Saturday & Sunday's U.K. tournament in Blackpool on the WWE Network.

-There is a very sad video message from former WWE talent Perry Saturn regarding his various health issues. He's attempting to raise money to pay medical bills and keep him from being homeless.

-Shawn Michaels did a TMZ interview where he said what is pretty clear, that he will never wrestle again.

-WWE got a buy recommendation from Guggenheim earlier on Thursday, its second in recent weeks, and the stock is starting to grow again, finishing at $19.14 per share.

-Steve Corino has started working for WWE this week at the Performance Center.

-There is a pre-sale for tickets to the 3/20 Raw show from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn using the code BKRAW. Tickets go on sale to the public on Saturday.

-The major event of the weekend is the WWE’s U.K. tournament from Blackpool, England with the tournament to crown the first U.K. champion. The first show is Saturday at 3pm Eastern on the WWE Network and concludes on Sunday with the same start time. Below are the opening round matches of the tournament:

*Tyler Bate vs. Tucker
*Jordan Devlin vs. Danny Burch
*HC Dyer vs. Trent Seven
*Wolfgang vs. Tyson T-Bone
*Mark Andrews vs. Dan Moloney
*James Drake vs. Joseph Connors
*Roy Johnson vs. Pete Dunne
*Saxon Huxley vs. Sam Gradwell

-The Raw crew is in Topeka, Kansas tonight for a house show and is headlined by Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns and then head to Wichita for Saturday night. The Smackdown crew starts Saturday night in Birmingham, Alabama with John Cena working all the shows this weekend.

-After two big numbers for Total Divas due to the timeslot change, the show came back to its normal levels this week with 584,000 viewers watching on Wednesday night on E! That number is down from 734,000 viewers for last week’s show.

-Mick Foley posted a photo on Facebook with The Young Bucks, Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian after they ran into each other at LAX.

-The WWE stock closed at $19.48 on Friday.

-Regarding rumors of Kurt Angle in the Royal Rumble, as of this morning, there is nothing to them. That isn't a cryptic thing. There's been no discussion as of today. Sometimes they don't call people until the last minute (which is why they sometimes get turned down because many older guys don't have time to get in shape).

It was announced yesterday that Angle will be starring in a movie called "In the Ring" which was described as being a comedy like "Major League" about a group of local misfit wrestlers led by Angle are in a war against a multinational promotion to get a network television contract. Tommy Dreamer plays the role of Vince McMahon. A lot of wrestlers are in the movie including Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, John Morrison, Ken Anderson, Jay Lethal, Joey Ryan, Candice LeRae, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Kevin Kelly, Nick Aldis, Chad Lail, Dalton Castle and the Briscoe Brothers.

-Vince McMahon spoke to the New Orleans Times-Picayune earlier this week and when asked if he was going to retire, said:

"No. No. Never. This is not work for me. I never go to work. Ever. Every aspect of the business, whether it's working with the talent or the writing staff, even on occasion working with the legal guys, it's all a big family. I never go to work."

He also said that he doesn't miss being on television at all. He said he enjoyed it when he did it, but then he couldn't produce and direct the show, which is what he loves to do.

-Tickets for the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony in Orlando at the Amway Arena have been move back to a pre-sale on 1/25 and a public on-sale of 1/27. This is the second time they've moved back the date.

-Paul Levesque, Scott Armstrong and Marty Miller will be overseeing the production of the U.K. shows this weekend. David Finlay is a producer. There will be no Vince McMahon at the show nor his fingerprints on the show. The talent, if left to their devices, want to do all kinds of blow away high spots so we'll see how it turns out.

-Brock Lesnar will be at every Raw in February except the show in Las Vegas. He'll also be on the first Raw in March, on 3/6 in Chicago as well as the 3/20 Raw in Brooklyn and most likely (not confirmed but probable) the 3/27 Raw.

-Mick Foley appears from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow for an autograph signing at the City of Industry, CA at 19649 E. San Jose, Avenue at Frank & Sons Collectibles.

-Paul Levesque held a press conference today in the U.K. to talk about the tournament this weekend. This was his response when asked about Kenny Omega:

"As far as Kenny Omega goes, I'm interested in talent period and if someone is talented as a performer and they want to come work for the WWE. If they want to work for the best in the world. If they want to come to the largest platform where they can truly show what they do off on a global basis then WWE is the choice for them. If they want to work for us and they are very talented then I'm interested in talking to them across the board. I hear a lot of speculation sometimes about well this guy who's been working for a long a time, or they wouldn't have interest or they would, or they're going after football players or this and that. I'm interested in talent at every level. Somebody with charisma, someone with the it factor, that is athletic, can do what we do...I'm interested in them. So, to me, anytime anyone questions me on a talent and if I'm interested in them...the fact that you are questioning me on it means that person is pretty talented so yes I'm interested."

**UPDATES for Jan/14/17**

-For those who were wondering about the identity of CJ Lunde, the wrestler that competed against Carmella on this week's SmackDown, she's an independent wrestler who goes by the name Thunderkitty. She's previously competed in the SHIMMER and SHINE female wrestling promotions. Lunde, of course, is the real last name of WWE Hall of Famer Arn Anderson (Marty Lunde), so her going by that name was likely a nod to Double-A.

-Below are the second round matches for Sunday Day 2 of the UK Championship tourney:

*Tyler Bate vs. Jordan Devlin
*Trent Seven vs. Wolfgang
*Mark Andrews vs. Joseph Connors
*Pete Dunne vs. Sam Gradwell

There was an angle shot at the end of the show where Dunne attacked Gradwell before it went off the air. He continued the attack in a video that WWE streamed on Facebook. WWE posted that Triple H will be reviewing the situation. WWE also posted a video of Danny Burch receiving medical attention after his match with Devlin.

Several UK independent promotions were referenced on today's WWE UK tournament broadcast, with officials from ICW, PROGRESS, and OTT specifically shown in the crowd at the show.

The tournament will conclude on the WWE Network tomorrow starting at 3 p.m. ET.

-Michael Cole tweeted about working with Nigel McGuinness on today's show:

"And where has @McGuinnessNigel been all my life! Way to kick off ur wwe career. #wweukct"

-Jerry Lawler tweeted that he'll be appearing on next week's episode of SmackDown in Memphis, Tennessee. Lawler said that he'll be hosting a King's Court segment. This will be his first WWE appearance since being released.

-AJ Styles was interviewed by AL.com earlier this week.

-Philadelphia 76ers star center Joel Embiid paid tribute to Triple H during his entrance at yesterday's game. The two had exchanged messages on Twitter prior to Embiid's tribute.

**UPDATES for Jan.15/17**

-Neville worked with recent NXT addition Aleister Black who worked on the UK Championship tournament show under his Indy name Tommy End.

-Both the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee and the WWE are advertising Bill Goldberg for the Fast Lane event on Sunday March 5th, which is the next Raw-only pay-per-view and the final big show before WrestleMania.

-Tyler Bate beat Pete Dunne after Dunne attacked his arm in the semifinals to become the first WWE UK Champion. Finn Balor, Fit Finlay and Regal celebrated with Bate when it was over.

-Following a battle with stomach cancer and a myriad of other health issues, Jimmy Snuka has died at 73 years old.

Snuka's death comes nearly two weeks after Judge Kelly L. Banach of Lehigh County cited Snuka's deteriorating health when dismissing third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges that had been leveled against him in the 1983 death of Nancy Argentino.

Judge Banach previously ruled last year that Snuka wasn't mentally competent enough to stand trial.

Snuka's potential involvement in Argentino's death had been openly speculated about for decades before reporting done by the Allentown Morning Call contributed to the case being reopened. The two had been romantically involved prior to Argentino's death, which Snuka claimed was the result of a fall.

The Morning Call uncovered an autopsy report that concluded that the case should have been investigated as a homicide until proven otherwise because of signs of "mate abuse" on Argentino. Snuka was officially charged in September 2015.

At a hearing in the case last December, Snuka's attorney stated that his client's cancer was terminal and that he may only have six months to live.

Snuka's daughter Sarona -- who wrestles in WWE as Tamina -- posted the news on Instagram on Sunday. It was also confirmed by Dwayne Johnson (better known as The Rock) on his Twitter account.

During his career, Snuka started out in Hawaii before becoming one of the WWF's biggest stars of the 1980s prior to the Hulk Hogan era. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996.

WWE acknowledged Snuka's death with an article on their website.

Come back for more news and notes on the WWE, so don't 'cha dare miss it!
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Posted 1/16/17 , edited 1/20/17
Most of the Rumble match spots are filled with more to come. Raw will be Monday night in Little Rock featuring the return of Brock Lesnar. There is also a Smackdown brand house show on Monday night in Jonesboro, AR. So here are the news pieces leading further to the Royal Rumble.

General sources are as normally credited to http://www.f4wonline.com/ and http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/news.html and http://fightnetwork.com/ and http://www.411mania.com/wrestling and http://www.pwi-online.com and http://www.thescore.com/trending while please also note that all news and rumours are subject to updates and changes.

NXT Takeover on Saturday, January 28, 2017 from San Antonio, Texas

Additional Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NXT_TakeOver:_San_Antonio

*NXT Championship Match: Shinsuke Nakamura (C) vs. Bobby Roode
*NXT Tag Team Championship Match: #DIY (C-Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa) vs. The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar w/ Paul Ellering)
*Fatal Four-Way Match for the NXT Women's Championship: Asuka (C) vs. Billie Kay vs. Peyton Royce vs. Nikki Cross
*Tye Dillinger vs. Eric Young (w/ SanitY members Nikki Cross, Killian Dain, and Alexander Wolfe)
*Roderick Strong vs. Andrade "Cien" Almas

Royal Rumble on Sunday, January 29, 2017 from San Antonio, Texas - UPDATED PPV CARD

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/royalrumble and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Rumble_(2017)

*2017 Royal Rumble 30-Man Match
NOTE: 15 Raw and 15 SmackDown participants will be entered. The winner gets a world championship match at WrestleMania 33.
Participants Announced: Goldberg (RAW), Brock Lesnar (RAW), New Day's Kofi Kingston (RAW), New Day's Big E (RAW), New Day's Xavier Woods (RAW), Chris Jericho (RAW), Braun Strowman (RAW), Seth Rollins (RAW), Baron Corbin (SD), The Undertaker (SD), Dean Ambrose (SD), The Miz (SD), Dolph Ziggler (SD), Raw Tag Team Champion Cesaro (RAW), Raw Tag Team Champion Sheamus (RAW), The Wyatt Family's Bray Wyatt, The Wyatt Family's Randy Orton, The Wyatt Family's Luke Harper
*WWE Universal Championship Match: Kevin Owens (C) vs. Roman Reigns
NOTE: The United States Champion Chris Jericho will be suspended above the ring during this match inside a steel shark cage.
*WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (C) vs. John Cena
*Raw Women's Championship Match: Charlotte (C) vs. Bayley
*WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Rich Swann (C) vs. Neville

-Smackdown and 205 Live will be taped live on Tuesday in Memphis featuring Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss in a steel cage match for the women's title, and Jerry Lawler is hosting a “King’s Court” segment.

-Jimmy Snuka passed away Sunday, a story that will no doubt get a ton of mainstream news coverage both because he was such a major star in his heyday and because of the death of Nancy Argentino in 1983 that became a major story due to local newspaper coverage, the persistence of Nancy's sisters and reporter Irv Muchnick, over the past three plus years. Obviously there is a lot to talk about and write on this subject.

WWE made a statement about the passing of Snuka, talking about his match with Don Muraco in Madison Square Garden and calling it one of the most memorable moments in WWE history. It was not acknowledged on the U.K. show. It might get some form of presentation on Raw. Reaction at http://www.bardown.com/the-wrestling-world-reacts-to-the-death-of-jimmy-superfly-snuka-1.650895 came from the pro wrestling community.

UPDATE: Raw did air a graphic about his passing. Most media outlets covered the Jimmy Snuka death, noting both key things, his popularity in pro wrestling in the 80s in WWF and the Nancy Argentino case. Snuka was also one of the plaintiffs in the concussions lawsuit against WWE. Most stories focused on Tweets sent by name wrestlers. The cause of death has not come out but he was suffering from cancer and some serious infections and had been moved to hospice care in Florida on 12/17.

-Wrestlecon has announced a Kliq reunion with Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman for 4/1 in Orlando as part of WrestleMania including a 90 minute Q&A session at 5 PM. that day. For $999, you can get front of the line privileges, a front row seat, a 30 minute limo ride with the four, a group photo with yourself in front of the limo, a poster signed by all four members and more. There are other price structures but to get a photo with all four the lowest price is $299.

-The WWE's XFL Hall of Fame thing took place with a screening of the 30 for 30 documentary that airs on ESPN early next month. They screened it three times at Cooper Union in New York. About 50 people were there.

-Regarding the always asked question about a U.K. PPV show, Paul Levesque said to "Inside the Ropes":

"I think that is a goal of WWE to be here in that way. It's a very difficult process with PPV schedules and coming to the UK or globally to perform live with a live TV component, following that up with Raw and Smackdown. It's a massive undertaking, trying to co-ordinate all that. There were 5 shows going on tonight under WWE. We have somewhere between 18 to 21 trailer trucks that come to our events, it's tough to get them over the ocean. Is it a goal? Yes and I think tonight was one step closer to that goal becoming a reality."

-Brock Lesnar will be on just about every Raw from now until WrestleMania with the exception of one Monday in February.

-The WWE stock closed at $19.48 on Monday.

-Early betting sites got Goldberg, Braun Strowman and the Undertaker as the favourites to win the Royal Rumble.

-The 2017 WWE Hall of Fame class has its headliner -- and it's someone that many doubted would ever be back with the company in any way.

ESPN broke the news on Monday afternoon that Kurt Angle would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31st over WrestleMania 33 weekend in Orlando, Florida. The induction is the first association Angle has had with WWE in over a decade after parting ways with the company in 2006.

"I was shocked. I've been out of WWE for a long time and out of touch with them so I didn't really expect this," Angle told ESPN about the news. "It's a huge honor. This is the only Hall of Fame that I'm not in and probably (the one) I want to be in the most. This is the one that means the most for me. I had a lot of fun entertaining the fans for seven years with WWE, and I'm glad that my hard work paid off."

Angle had spent most of the last decade of his career in TNA Wrestling, while a litany of highly publicized personal and substance abuse issues had kept him out of WWE's good graces since his departure.

“Kurt Angle’s accomplishments both in the Olympics and WWE were extraordinary,” Paul Levesque (better known as Triple H) said in a statement. “He was one of the most gifted athletes to ever enter the ring, and we are honored to welcome him into the WWE Hall of Fame.”

In the ESPN interview, Angle claimed that he was told the news on Monday after having little relationship with the company in the time since he left aside from a conversation with Levesque last year. Dave Meltzer reported in the January 2nd edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Angle had told indie promoters that he wasn't taking any more bookings and would be going back to WWE in April.

It remains to be seen whether Angle will ultimately only be back for the induction or if he'll have any further role in WWE.

"We have not talked about any wrestling," Angle said to ESPN. "Whether we do or not, that remains to be seen...there are no guarantees. I think right now the most important thing is the Hall of Fame -- and I think both sides feel that way."

This will be announced on Raw. Angle will be on ESPN Sportscentre this week after they broke the news.

-WWE Hall of Fame tickets go on sale with a pre-sale moved to Wednesday and public on sale to Friday. This was the third time in recent weeks they've changed the date.

-For tonight's Raw, this is the first week with no football so in theory the rating should be way up. It's it's above 3.3 million, that would be good but any number at 3.3 million or less would be normal for what should be expected. Under 3.2 million would be bad. There is significant competition with the Warriors vs. Cavs, the rematch of the NBA championship, going head-to-head against most of the show, on TNT. Next Monday is supposed to be a loaded show as the Rumble go-home Raw so that'll be the real test as far as how much of the audience is coming back.

-All of the wrestlers who appeared in the WWE U.K. tournament have been signed. They are also able to work U.K. independent dates until or unless WWE starts running a full-time circuit.

-The WWE sent out an e-mail blast to former network subscribers and others on their mailing list offering them three free months of the WWE Network starting today. The promotion is that they would get Royal Rumble, Fast Lane and WrestleMania for free.

-Being Martin Luther King Day they also played a video like every year since Vince is a huge fan.

-The movie Shawn Michaels is in, "The Education of Gavin Stone," comes out Friday and will be getting a major release.

-A contract signing with Shinsuke Nakamura and Bobby Roode will be on Wednesday's NXT show, plus Roderick Strong wrestles Steve Cutler on the show.

-The movie "Countdown," a WWE Studios release with Dolph Ziggler as the star and Kane as a costar has been added to Netflix.

-Another WWE movie, called "Surf's Up 2," will be released on DVD tomorrow which features anime with a number of major stars including Vince McMahon.

-The movie "The Wall," which John Cena is one of the stars in, will be test marketed this month before its 3/10 release.

-WWE on 3/10 has a Raw house show at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, the same site UFC just announced a PPV in. There will be a presale starting tomorrow at 10 a.m. through Thursday at 11 p.m. with the code WWEKBC.

-Progress Wrestling ran a show on Saturday and Finn Balor was at the show, as was Tommy End. Balor did a game of musical chairs. End lost to Jimmy Havoc. Rockstar Spud from TNA also returned on the show which featured Matt Riddle winning the Atlas championship from Rampage Brown.

-The NHL's Florida Panthers announced Pro Wrestling Night on 2/9 for their home game with the Los Angeles Kings. Appearing will be Tommy Dreamer, Christian and Ricky Steamboat. There will be an autograph session with the wrestlers. You can get tickets using the code WRESTLING.

**UPDATES for Jan.17/17**

-Dwayne Johnson's Ballers will be returning for a third season on HBO.

-Jerry “The King” Lawler is apparently opening a second restaurant, this one in Cordova, Tennessee. The first one, of course, is in Memphis.

-On the Main Event tapings, Darren Young appeared to suffer an arm injury that ended his match early with Epico. It happened on the opposite side of the ring from from the majority of the crowd, but it might have happened when he was slammed into the barricade. The ref never threw up an "X," but the ringside doctor called it off.

-Though he just returned to WWE earlier this month, it's unclear when Tajiri will be wrestling for the company next after suffering an injury.

WWE.com posted on Tuesday that Tajiri isn't medically cleared to wrestle after suffering a right knee injury at NXT's latest TV taping. Tajiri teamed with Shinsuke Nakamura against Samoa Joe & Bobby Roode in what may have been a dark match main event on that taping. The conclusion of the match saw Chris Hero make his NXT return as Kassius Ohno to confront Nakamura after it was over.

After featuring in the Cruiserweight Classic last summer, Tajiri made his return to WWE TV earlier this month on 205 Live and started a program with Brian Kendrick. WWE didn't elaborate on the severity of his injury.

Tajiri tweeted about his knee injury that was announced by WWE.com today:

"Now Im getting much much better!! Sorry for 12 billion of TAJIRI fans in the world.I`ll come back to the ring soon."

-Mickie James is backstage at the SmackDown tapings tonight in Memphis, though that doesn't necessarily mean she will debut on the show.

James had been widely speculated to be the eventual person who would be unmasked as La Luchadora. James was not under the mask on the previous shows with that character, but from the start of the angle it was always supposed to be revealed as her.

After appearing in WWE for the first time since 2010 as Asuka's opponent at NXT TakeOver: Toronto last year, she signed a deal to return to the company as a member of the SmackDown roster.

WWE announced that tonight's show would open with Shane McMahon making a major announcement.

UPDATE: For the Elimination Chamber PPV on February 12, SmackDown's WWE Champion will defend the title in the Chamber match against 5 other SmackDown superstars prior to WrestleMania. When Shane announced it, AJ Styles the current champion confronted him furthering rumours that the WrestleMania WWE Championship Match will be AJ Style vs. Shane McMahon.

The only other things announced for the show are a cage match with Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch for the women's title, and a King's Court interview segment featuring the first appearance by Jerry Lawler since he was let go from the company. Lawler, of course, is the legend of Memphis wrestling.

-Kurt Angle spoke to Sports Illustrated about his upcoming WWE Hall of Fame induction. Angle said that Steve Austin is at the top of his list to induct him and called the decision a "no-brainer." Angle will appear on WWE's weekly SportsCenter segment with Jonathan Coachman tomorrow night.

-The "I forfeit" match between Jack Gallagher and Ariya Daivari that was agreed to on last week's show will take place on tonight's 205 Live.

-WWE is holding 2016 year-end awards for NXT that will be announced on the one-hour pre-show prior to TakeOver: San Antonio. The categories are performer of the year, male of the year, female of the year, breakout of the year, tag team of the year, and TakeOver of the year.

-ESPN spoke to William Regal about Chris Hero returning to NXT as Kassius Ohno.

-AL.com has an article about John Cena interacting with young fans at WWE's house show in Birmingham.

-Bray Wyatt made a match for next week on SmackDown between Luke Harper and Randy Orton of the Wyatt Family.

-It was revealed that La Luchadora was as rumoured Mickie James as she helped Alexa Bliss retain the SmackDown Women's Championship.

**UPDATES for Jan.18/17**

-With SmackDown's next brand-specific pay-per-view taking place two weeks after the Royal Rumble, WWE didn't wait until after that show to start building to the Elimination Chamber.

Predictably, the main event of the PPV will see the WWE Championship defended in an Elimination Chamber match. Shane McMahon made the announcement to open tonight's SmackDown after it had been hyped by WWE earlier in the day that he would be kicking off the show with news.

Before the Elimination Chamber, AJ Styles will defend the WWE title against John Cena at the Royal Rumble in San Antonio, Texas. The winner of that will go on to defend their title in the Chamber match.

None of the six participants were announced for the match aside from whoever is champion. The PPV is SmackDown's final one before WrestleMania, which would seem to indicate that whoever walks out as champion will be defending the title in Orlando at WWE's biggest show of the year.

The 2017 Elimination Chamber PPV will take place at the Talking Stick Resort in Phoenix, Arizona on February 12th. The WWE title match is the first officially announced for the event.

-Though the SmackDown Women's Championship steel cage match between Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss was made under the guise of keeping La Luchadora from interfering, the angle only led to the reveal of the woman behind the mask on the show.

In what was hardly a surprise given weeks of speculation and Dave Meltzer's report that Mickie James was backstage at SmackDown in Memphis, James was revealed to be La Luchadora at the conclusion of the show. She was unmasked by Lynch after her interference helped Bliss retain the Women's title.

It was the first time that James played La Luchadora on TV despite ultimately being revealed as the character. James signed a contract last year to return to WWE as a member of the SmackDown roster after being away from the company since 2010.

Before returning on a regular basis, James challenged Asuka for the NXT Women's Championship at TakeOver: Toronto over Survivor Series weekend in November 2016.

It was also announced on SmackDown that Randy Orton would face Luke Harper in a singles match next week after Orton's match against Dean Ambrose led to more dysfunction among the Wyatt Family in their ongoing storyline.

Video of James being revealed as La Luchadora is available to watch.

-In an interview with the Fox Sports' Wrestling Compadres podcast, WWE COO Paul "HHH" Levesque confirmed that a WWE women's tournament is happening this year, likely this summer.

The podcast aired a clip from the interview Wednesday with the full interview set to be released this Friday. Dave Meltzer originally reported the long-discussed tourney was tentatively earmarked for May on the WWE Network.

Levesque said that the difficult thing has been trying to find the right time for the tournament, given their current schedule and the ever-changing landscape of WWE. He mentioned the UK tournament fit perfectly prior to the Royal Rumble and that he is hoping the women's tourney can happen this summer.

The plan is to recruit very similarly to the WWE Cruiserweight Classic where they "scour the globe" and find some talents that may be flying under the radar, increasing the talent pool for WWE as a whole.

Levesque was also asked about intergender matches and while he understands that they may work for some smaller groups as shock entertainment value, he didn't think the WWE fanbase would be ready for a male to be seen beating up a woman in the ring. He prefers the women being able to stand out on their own athletic merits.

-Monday night’s episode Raw was the first week without football competition and averaged around 3,270,000 viewers and would be their highest Raw number since August 29th. The show started with 3.52 million viewers in the first hour and would be the most watched hour of Raw since the brand split began last summer. The second hour dropped to 3.22 million and the final hour did 3.05 million viewers and featured the main event six-man tag. The overall number was way up from last week’s 2,894,000, which went against the Alabama vs. Clemson football game.

Raw was also going against the NBA's two premiere teams against each other, a Warriors vs. Cavaliers game on TNT, which did 4.52 million viewers. Overall Raw was fifth for the night on cable.

The story was a very strong open and a big fade. Whether that was attributable to the idea that people were curious to see Brock Lesnar, and after his appearance, there was nothing plugged for him later, or they just lost interest after the first hour, the ratings pattern wasn't good.

In the 18-49 demo, the first to third hour drop was 14 percent among women and 10 percent among men, so it was a uniform drop, not like the usual mostly female drops as the show goes on. The only group that stuck strongly with the show was teenage boys.

-It was announced on Talking Smack that Jerry Lawler will be calling the Royal Rumble match on January 29th alongside Michael Cole and Corey Graves. Lawler will also be part of the kickoff panel with Renee Young and Booker T. The team of Mauro Ranallo, JBL and David Otunga will be calling the Smackdown matches on the show and presumably Cole, Graves and Byron Saxton will call the Raw specific matches on the show.

-Kevin Nash has decided that he will donate his brain and spinal cord after he dies to the CTE Center at Boston University and Concussion Legacy Foundation. Nash noted that he has experienced short-term memory problems and decided to donate to assist with further research.

-Following this past weekend’s WWE U.K. tournament, Progress Wrestling has announced that Tyler Bate, Pete Dunne, Mark Andrews and Trent Seven will be working the Progress show in Orlando on Friday March 31st over WrestleMania weekend.

-Kurt Angle is launching an app that is designed to assist those with addiction problems. Angle spoke to CBS Pittsburgh and outlined his downward spiral into addiction problems when he became a professional wrestler and citing his numerous neck breaks as the contributor that led to his use of pain killers. He said at his height he was taking 65 Vicodins per day and near overdosed on several occasions. Angle four DUIs within the span of five years and led to Angle finally entering rehab, which he said was the best thing he ever did but there is no after care once you are done. The app is called “Angle Strong” and features Angle being in contact with recovering addicts and checks in that the app provides.

-The WWE stock closed at $19.59 on Wednesday.

-Orton posted a series of tweets in response to an article about a recent altercation he had with a fan at a gym in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Orton tweeted:

"Apparently I hurt a fans feelings when I told him to F off at the gym yesterday. That's news? Been happening for 15 years. #getalife"

-Darren Young tweeted an update about the injury that he suffered at the Main Event taping before Raw on Monday:

"Hyperextension which resulted in a traumatic dislocation & fracture of the coronoid process of the right elbow. #blockthehate #standby"

**UPDATES for Jan.19/17**

-Trish Stratus and her husband Ron announced the birth of their daughter, Madison Patricia; she was born on Saturday in Newmarket, Ontario. Their son, Max, is three years old.

-At http://www.bardown.com/jericho-with-the-fire-response-after-bulgarian-wrestler-rusev-rips-canadian-basketball-1.653781 Rusev went online to critique Canadian Basketball to Renee Young so Chris Jericho came to defend and respond.

-SmackDown averaged 2.652 million viewers for Tuesday night's show, which was headlined by a steel cage match between Women's Champion Alexa Bliss defending against Becky Lynch.

That was up five percent from last week and follows an impressive rating from Monday Night Raw the night before, also on USA Network. The show was 10th for the night in total viewers but first in the 18-49 demo with a 0.9 rating.

Since the brand split, SmackDown has averaged between 80 and 85 percent of the Raw audience from the night before but that percentage had gone up during football season. With football done, SmackDown was down to just under 82 percent of the Raw number, the same average they've been at, removing the weeks of football season from the equation.

The show is now averaging almost 2.5 million viewers since moving to Tuesday nights and airing live, which is way up from the 2.1-2.2 million level they were at on Thursday nights.

-Two promotions in the United Kingdom have announced changes to upcoming cards for FloSlam broadcasts as it seems WWE is setting guidelines for where their UK contracted talent is allowed to appear.

IPW:UK, who will be airing a supershow on FloSlam live on Sunday, posted on Facebook that Pete Dunne will now face Tom Dawkins in a bonus match for the live crowd that won't be streamed on the service. Dunne had been scheduled to face Matt Riddle, who will now face Ryan Smile instead. Joseph Conners has been pulled from the show entirely.

The promotion posted, "Unfortunately in the early hours of this morning we learnt that due to contractual obligations with the WWE, certain wrestlers will be unable to appear on our FloSlam live broadcast this Sunday, namely in this instance, Pete Dunne and Joseph Conners."

In a move that seems to be related given a tweet they posted, Lucha Forever also announced that the main event of their debut show on April 17th would now be Shane Strickland vs. Travis Banks after Strickland had been scheduled to face Dunne, who will still be appearing on the show in some capacity. The promotion recently signed a deal to broadcast events on FloSlam.

Though he recently returned to NXT as Kassius Ohno, Chris Hero's final two matches for EVOLVE during Royal Rumble weekend still seem set to appear on the service.

The news comes during what could be looked back on as a transformative period for professional wrestling going forward as WWE attempts to further expand into the UK market after last weekend's tournament. Dave Meltzer reported on the moves being made in this week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter, including a deal for ICW events to appear on the WWE Network with possibly more to come.

-Linda McMahon's confirmation hearing for her position as the administrator of the Small Business Administration in Donald Trump's cabinet takes place on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.

-AJ Styles was robbed on Monday while wrestling in Jonesboro, AR. Police at Arkansas State University are investigating a theft case as Allan Jones (AJ Styles) reported a bag with $1,000 in U.S. cash and 700,000 yen, as well as an iPhone, a set of Beats headphones, a small screen TV an Xbox 360 and six Xbox 360 games were stolen from him.

-There is a pre-sale for the 3/27 Raw show in Philadelphia, the last Raw before WrestleMania, at the Wells Fargo Center, ending tomorrow at 11 p.m. Brock Lesnar will be featured on the show.

-The WWE website had an interview with Seth Rollins saying he wished Kenny Omega would be in the Royal Rumble. It was taken down from the site, and then put back up.

-The Huffington Post has a note on Kurt Angle.

-Dwayne Johnson has signed on to play Black Adam is a movie that will be come out in 2019.

**UPDATES for Jan/20/17**

-The WWE’s Raw crew is in Binghamton, New York tonight and then go to Indiana, Pennsylvania on Saturday. The SmackDown crew will not feature John Cena or Randy Orton on this weekend’s shows with a Saturday house show in Dayton, Ohio and Sunday are in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The Raw crew features Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Chris Jericho as the top advertised talent and SmackDown has AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt among those advertised.

-Paul Levesque and Stephanie McMahon were in Washington, D.C. today for the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. The confirmation hearing for Linda McMahon a the head of the Small Business Administration is scheduled for next Tuesday at 10:30am Eastern for McMahon’s role in the Donald Trump cabinet.

-Chris Jericho stated on his “Talk is Jericho” podcast this past Wednesday that he just signed a new contract with the WWE. When he was last on The LAW, he had stated he signed a number of short-term extensions throughout 2016 and his original plan was returning in January 2016 was to finish up at WrestleMania and then kept renewing. It is not known the length of this latest deal he has signed but he is obviously figured into WrestleMania plans for April.

-This past Wednesday’s episode of Total Divas averaged 580,000 viewers and down a small amount from 584,000 last week. The show has evened out after two big weeks of numbers at the new timeslot of 9pm Eastern on E!

-The WWE stock closed at $19.43 on Friday.

-Following Thursday's news of contracted WWE UK talents being pulled from FloSlam broadcasts, Friday saw more announcements of wrestlers being removed from scheduled appearances as restrictions regarding where they're allowed to work are put in place.

The "Working a Resthold" podcast announced that Pete Dunne, Mark Andrews, and Trent Seven would no longer be appearing on their live podcast in London on January 28th prior to wXw's show later that night.

The podcast posted:

"Unfortunately, yesterday afternoon, Scott Andrews was informed that due to their new WWE contractual obligations, Trent Seven, Pete Dunne and Mark Andrews are now unable to participate in the show. On behalf of myself, Dannii and Marianne, we'd like to wish all three the very best for the future and would like to thank them for their professionalism."

They have updated their lineup with Eddie Dennis, Chris Brookes, Doug Williams, Jody Fleisch, and Johnny Storm now joining Marty Scurll and Ryan Smile.

Despite William Regal initially claiming that the signed UK talent would face "zero restrictions" regarding where they're allowed to work aside from dates where WWE needs them and some places that have contracts that would present a conflict of interest, it quickly became clear that wouldn't be the case.

WWE has developed relationships with ICW, PROGRESS, and OTT, with Dave Meltzer reporting in this week's edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that a deal for ICW events to appear on the Network is in place along with the possibility of more to come.

In what could possibly be related to Dunne, Andrews, and Seven being pulled from the podcast, Meltzer notes that WWE is bringing some of the UK talent to San Antonio next week for Royal Rumble weekend.

Meltzer also reports that contracted talents will be permitted to perform for certain promotions but the events cannot be distributed (televised, streamed, transmitted or taped) unless authorised. It is said that all talent was told this before signing deals, and is in all of their contracts.

-Raw will be the Royal Rumble go-home show in Cleveland. Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg are both on the show. There will also be a Smackdown show in Saginaw, MI.

Smackdown and 205 Live take place on Tuesday night in Toledo. Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper has been announced for the show.

-Kurt Angle has been pulled from Five Star Wrestling for the show next weekend in Dundee, Scotland. He was going to be a television announcer for the live Spike U.K. broadcast.

-"The Ressurection of Gavin Stone" opens tonight. Variety wrote about Shawn Michaels that he "makes a winning impression as a born-again biker-turned-mechanic and is fairly solid across the board."

-The company has released a Jimmy Snuka Collection today on the WWE Network and promoted it hard today in an e-mail blast. "Celebrate the Life of Jimmy Snuka" is more than a bit too much. Doing charity work and having class are hardly the same thing.

-The company also sent out another e-mail blast about three months free, saying this is the last chance to order it (which would include Rumble, Fast Lane, Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania) to all the people who got the first blast but haven't ordered yet.

-Howard Stern yesterday aired a brief interview from a convention with Ric Flair, who was asked about blood capsules and Fair said that he never used a blood capsule and "Don't insult me." Stern talked about how tough Flair was and they were very respectful toward him.

Tune in for more news and notes, so don't 'cha dare miss it!
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Here is todays WWE BTS news.

http://411mania.com/wrestling/wwe-chief-revenue-and-marketing-officer-says-wwe-vr-may-happen-in-less-than-five-years/

Business Insider reports that WWE’s Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer, Michelle Wilson, spoke at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas about the possibility of WWE using VR technology. Here are highlights:
On the amount of original content WWE produces: “When we look five years ago, we were putting out about 750 hours of original content every year, which is a lot. Fast-forward to today, we’re putting out double that, about 1,500 hours of original content that’s both long-form for TV, but we’re putting out just as much content short-form on YouTube and Snapchat.”

On the use of virtual reality: “I think V.R. is a really interesting thing to watch for us, we know that our fans want to be literally in the ring with our superstars. I think it is absolutely sooner than five years, I’m not sure if it’s quite next year, but we’re definitely testing and evaluating, as we speak. I think a lot of it is us paying attention to our fans and are they adopting to buying the required headsets and the apps.”

On WWE’s digital team: “We have an entire digital team that we’ve brought in a lot of young talent, who are users of those platforms, and it helps them to really think about how to produce content that makes sense, and tell our stories on those platforms. We have a digital team of probably 100-120, that their sole focus is creating content for YouTube, creating content for Facebook Live, and for Snapchat.”

http://411mania.com/wrestling/bray-wyatt-reveals-his-dream-wrestlemania-opponent-and-discusses-facing-the-undertaker-for-the-event/
Sky Sports recently interviewed WWE Superstar Bray Wyatt. Below are some highlights.
Wyatt on being in the WrestleMania main event: “Who deserves to main event WrestleMania more than me? No one. I am the same Wyatt on the inside that I always was – the fire and rage is still there – but I think the reset button has been pushed and everything is coming to fruition. I’ve had the win at Survivor Series and the Smackdown Tag Team Titles and the Rumble is the final piece. I am in my prime.”

Wyatt’s dream WrestleMania opponent: “Daniel Bryan would be my match-up. I could say a lot of names – The Undertaker, Jake “The Snake” Roberts”, Ric Flair in his prime – but I didn’t feel I was finished with Bryan. I felt it was taken from me and I will always feel that way. This year, though, I plan to beat AJ Styles – if he is still the champion – and it would be good if it was a Last Man Standing Match.”

On his match with The Undertaker at WrestleMania: “Surreal. Coming out in the daylight was one thing but anytime you hear that gong and see him walking down, everything becomes non-existent around you – it’s almost as if time freezes. Once you feel the wrath of the greatest Superstar that ever existed, it becomes kind of easy. I have faced him a couple of times and would like to face him a couple more.”

http://411mania.com/wrestling/jim-ross-said-kurt-angle-had-to-stop-making-bad-decisions-to-get-into-the-wwe-hall-of-fame/

– PWInsider recently interviewed WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross for its Straight Shooters podcast on a number of topics, including what he thinks about Kurt Angle joining the WWE Hall of Fame this year. Below are some highlights.
Ross on WWE’s tribute for the late Jimmy Snuka: “I had no issues with it. I was glad they recognized it and recognized his passing. For wrestling fans, for many of them, he meant a lot to a generation of fans. I’m glad that they acknowledged it. It’s the wrong form, in my view, to continue to wear out a topic of a trial that never happened and a court case that’s been dismissed. I don’t know what happened and all this other stuff regarding Jimmy and the lady that was murdered. But golly, there’s a time and place to discuss those issues. And one would think that we’d have enough intelligence to let the family – he had a lot of kids, man. They have friends and they have cousins and I think to just let the family grieve before we go back on this Oliver Stone quest of proving Jimmy Snuka posthumously was a murderer. It’s ridiculous. It’s embarrassing.”

His thoughts on Kurt Angle entering the WWE Hall of Fame: “Kurt and I communicate like everybody else in this world we live in, by text, or direct message or something. So I know he’s been working very diligently to get clean and sober for quite some time. It’s not been easy but he seems to be well on the right road to that sobriety. I think that, I don’t know this, but I would assume WWE made a thorough evaluation of where he was health-wise before they pursued this matter. And some people say, ‘Well, it’s a long time coming.’ Damn right, it’s a long time coming. But it was a long time for him to get his priorities back together and for him to stop making bad decisions. So thank God he’s doing really well. I saw him in England in October. He had a match and looked great. I can see him having a match here and there. Nobody can debate the fact if Kurt Angle can have a match. Of course he can have a match. The issue is how often do you want to saddle him up and run him back out the track and take him back to the barn and bring him back out. I just don’t see the money in that. I see a one-off deal at best. And call it a day. He doesn’t owe anybody four more matches or six more matches or anything. I think that he could have a big match if it was made that way, a significant match for WWE. A one-off deal. But if that doesn’t happen, I wrote about this on my blog on my website, I think that it’s important that we honor his career and not the fact about making this whole thing about one more match.”

Ross on how he courted Angle to the WWE in the late 90s: “Kurt was reluctant after the Olympics. He wanted to do other things. He never was a big pro wrestling fan. He didn’t really have an affinity for the business. He tried sportscasting and was looking at some other opportunities, so we were kind of backburnered. But he knew the door was open and he knew that we were interested, so I think once his other options didn’t materialize to his standards, he got back in touch with us. At that point, it was pretty simple to get everything done and get him in training. He was probably the best, fastest, highest-level transition from amateur to pro in learning everything about false finishes, some ring psychology, and also he had great verbal timing. Real good verbal skills, as we all remember. A very entertaining guy. That was not his natural personality when he first came to us. He acquired that. He let his guard down and started having fun. I saw a lot of great amateur guys in the business, including Lesnar recently, but Kurt Angle had the show-vious side of it down faster and better than anybody I’ve ever seen.”

His thoughts on the Royal Rumble: “Broadcasting the Royal Rumble match is as challenging a task as you’d have throughout the year. It’s going to be over an hour and your stories change at the same intervals that the talents are entered. Then the stories change again when talents are eliminated. So every entry and every exit creates a new story. It’s very challenging thing to mentally put the narrative to the picture you’re seeing. Tazz and I did that event, and he’s never done one. I think if you’d ask him he’d probably tell you we had a lot of fun, it was comfortable, but boy, it’s hard work. It’s really, truly hard work. The thing about making predictions for the Royal Rumble, it’s fun to talk about and shoot the breeze with your buddies or whatever. If you’re serious about creative, it’s hard to do a good job of intelligently predicting Royal Rumble finishes unless you know the card for WrestleMania. If I was in the booking world, by the time I got to San Antonio on Sunday, January 29th, I would make sure I had my WrestleMania card, at least the top half of it, booked.”

http://411mania.com/wrestling/xavier-woods-doesnt-think-the-new-day-failed-in-the-beginning/

In an interview with RauteMusik, Xavier Woods spoke about the early days of the New Day and if he has considered a solo run. Here are highlights:
On who he idolized in the 1990s: “Some of the guys that I liked in the 90s, my favorite wrestler was 2 Cold Scorpio. My favorite tag team was Billy and Chuck. I was really into X-Pac, when he was The 1-2-3 Kid in WWE back in the day. So I was really into more over-the-top, entertaining kind of characters, larger-than-life types of things. That’s the part of wrestling that I really enjoyed.”

On if being booed meant the New Day gimmick failed in the beginning: “[The gimmick] didn’t fail because the point of what we’re doing is trying to get a response from people, whether they are booing you or whether they are cheering for you, as long as they are making noise and they have some sort of emotional attachment, then you have succeeded. Now with us, when we came out, people were booing because they did not like us. We didn’t change anything. We kept doing everything the same as when we debuted. And after a few months, people started cheering for us because, then, they understood what we were and they understood who we were and they realized that they enjoy it. So I wouldn’t say that we failed at all because the crowd definitely felt a certain kind of way about us, which is exactly what we’re trying to do every time we go out there.”

On having Vince McMahon’s support: “[McMahon] was one of the very few people who actually believed in us, that we’d be able to make all this stuff work. And so, having him support us is definitely huge. He helped us out a lot. But yeah, no, he’s definitely happy that his help and his input and his ideas were able to be put to use in this type of way to where it has been as successful as it has been.”


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Posted 1/22/17 , edited 1/29/17
The Royal Rumble kicks off 2017 this week! Here are all the news and notes leading to one of the big 4 PPVs.

General sources are as normally credited to http://www.f4wonline.com/ and http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/news.html and http://fightnetwork.com/ and http://www.411mania.com/wrestling and http://www.pwi-online.com and http://www.thescore.com/trending while please also note that all news and rumours are subject to updates and changes.

NXT Takeover on Saturday, January 28, 2017 from San Antonio, Texas

Additional Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NXT_TakeOver:_San_Antonio

*NXT Championship Match: Shinsuke Nakamura (C) vs. Bobby Roode
*NXT Tag Team Championship Match: #DIY (C-Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa) vs. The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar w/ Paul Ellering)
*Fatal Four-Way Match for the NXT Women's Championship: Asuka (C) vs. Billie Kay vs. Peyton Royce vs. Nikki Cross
*Tye Dillinger vs. Eric Young (w/ SanitY members Nikki Cross, Killian Dain, and Alexander Wolfe)
*Roderick Strong vs. Andrade "Cien" Almas

Royal Rumble on Sunday, January 29, 2017 from San Antonio, Texas - UPDATED PPV CARD

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/royalrumble and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Rumble_(2017)

*2017 Royal Rumble 30-Man Match
NOTE: 15 Raw and 15 SmackDown participants will be entered. The winner gets a world championship match at WrestleMania 33.
Participants Announced: Goldberg (RAW), Brock Lesnar (RAW), New Day's Kofi Kingston (RAW), New Day's Big E (RAW), New Day's Xavier Woods (RAW), Chris Jericho (RAW), Braun Strowman (RAW), Sami Zayn (RAW), Baron Corbin (SD), The Undertaker (SD), Dean Ambrose (SD), The Miz (SD), Dolph Ziggler (SD), Raw Tag Team Champion Cesaro (RAW), Raw Tag Team Champion Sheamus (RAW), The Wyatt Family's Bray Wyatt (SD), The Wyatt Family's Randy Orton (SD), The Wyatt Family's Luke Harper (SD), The Big Show (RAW), Cass & Enzo's Big Cass (RAW), Rusev (RAW), Mojo Rawley (SD)
*No Disqualification Match for WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens (C) vs. Roman Reigns
NOTE: The United States Champion Chris Jericho will be suspended above the ring during this match inside a steel shark cage.
*WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (C) vs. John Cena
*Raw Women's Championship Match: Charlotte (C) vs. Bayley
*WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Rich Swann (C) vs. Neville

*Kickoff Show 6 Women Tag Team Match at 5-7PM EST: The SmackDown Women's Champion Alexa Bliss, Mickie James & Natalya vs. Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and Naomi
*Kickoff Show WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match at 5-7PM EST: Sheamus & Cesaro (C) vs. The Club (Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
NOTE: Two Referees have been assigned to this match.
*Kickoff Show Match at 5-7PM EST: Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax

-The reviews are in for Shawn Michael's new movie, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, and they're mixed. The Chicago Tribune liked it, giving it 2 stars. Variety was particularly complimentary towards Michaels in its review of the film. But The AVClub didn't like it too much, giving it a D-rating. They say that "even David Spade movies have more laughs"

The current estimate is that "The Resurrection of Gavin Stone" will open at No. 18 and gross $1.36 million this weekend, its first weekend of release.

-Raw will be the Royal Rumble go-home show in Cleveland. Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg are both on the show. There will also be a SmackDown house show in Saginaw, MI.

SmackDown and 205 Live take place on Tuesday night in Toledo. Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper has been announced for the show.

-James Ellsworth posted a video with fans outside of Saturday's SmackDown house show in Dayton asking for people to tweet to help get him in the Royal Rumble.

-Dave Bautista responded to a tweet calling his 2014 run in WWE a waste:

"Complete waste? I put your hero @WWEDanielBryan over at Mania and fought to keep Evokution together to put over The Shield. You're welcome!"

-Bray Wyatt was interviewed by Sky Sports earlier this week, where he said that Daniel Bryan would be his dream WrestleMania opponent of anyone from the past or present.

-Triple H tried to explain the logic of the logistics of his feud with Seth Rollins in an interview with Fox Sports' Wrestling Compadres podcast.

-Added to the list of those not on this weekend's Smackdown tour besides John Cena and Randy Orton, were Dolph Ziggler and Nikki Bella (which also meant Natalya since she's Nikki's opponent).

-Paul Levesque, Stephanie McMahon and Linda McMahon were all at Donald Trump's inauguration.

-Alberto Rodriguez and Paige will be hosting a Royal Rumble party this coming Sunday at his La Cantinita Restaurant in San Antonio and they are promoting that WWE stars will be coming to the restaurant after the show.

-British wrestling legend Johnny Saint is currently in Orlando as a guest instructor at the WWE's Performance Center.

-Sheila Ottman posted an update Sunday on Tugboat / Typhoon / Shockmaster Fred Ottman, who has been hospitalized:

"Fred is so much better today .Thank God for his healing power and all the prayers from all of you guys. God is so good to us."

-NXT will be taping TV on the road on Feb.22nd in Orlando on the campus of UCF and have also announced they will be running a show in Miami on Feb.24th. Tickets for both shows go on sale this Thursday.

-wXw out of Germany announced that Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate and Trent Seven will no longer be competing on this Saturday's event in London due to WWE commitments.

From wXw's press release:

"We received information that Tyler Bate, Trent Seven and Pete Dunne are unable to compete for wXw in London on January 28th due to WWE commitments."

"We have received numerous inquiries regarding the future situation of the three wrestlers in question. We have contacted WWE about this matter and are currently waiting on their response. Once we have received further news, we are going to update you on this subject."

Bate & Seven have been replaced by the London Riots in a tag title match against A4. Jody Fleisch will now face Travis Banks instead of Dunne.

In what could be related to the wrestlers being pulled from their appearances this weekend, Dave Meltzer reported that some of the UK tournament competitors are being flown by WWE to San Antonio for Royal Rumble weekend.

PROGRESS Wrestling has yet to announce if their show on January 29th will be affected by the changes. Dunne has been set to defend the PROGRESS Championship against Jimmy Havoc in the main event, while Bate & Seven are the promotion's tag team champions.

WWE did allow Trent Seven and Pete Dunne's matches from Saturday's Revolution Pro show to appear on the RevPro streaming service. So even though it is unlikely RevPro will be on the WWE Network, at this point they appear to be on good terms with WWE. Regarding the talk on the show last night, two interesting notes. It was Trent Seven, not Tyler Bate who was pulled from the next Saturday podcast taped in London along with Dunne and Seven. But Dunne being in San Antonio for the Rumble would be in question since he was advertised for the main event against Jimmy Havoc for Progress Wrestling in London for a sold out show at the Electric Ballroom.

-The WWE will now be doing a two-hour kickoff show from 5PM-7PM EST this Sunday at the Royal Rumble. The panel will consist of Renee Young, Booker T, Jerry Lawler and Shawn Michaels. Lawler has stated that he's doing one-hour on the panel and that would suggest the 6-7PM hour will will feature matches like the added Raw Tag Team Championship Match. Lawler was also on the Cerrito Live show and stated that he has signed a new one-one contract with the WWE and referred to it as an "open ended" contract.

-In an interview at http://www.thescore.com/nfl/news/1215542-cena-i-run-a-parallel-life-with-tom-brady John Cena says his life is parallel to Super Bowl bound and fellow Massachusetts quarterback star Tom Brady.

-This Wednesday on E! is the mid-season finale of Total Divas. It's built around the U.S. version of the Rusev & Lana wedding.

-There isn't a lot of stuff advertised for Raw, but with this being the easiest night of competition for Raw since August, by all rights this should be the most-watched episode in a long time.

-John Cena was back hosting The Today show this morning. What's amazing is he's done this so many times that within wrestling, people don't even see talk about it as a big deal. Even a few years ago, the idea a wrestler, aside from Dwayne Johnson, would be in that kind of a position would be almost unthinkable.

-Mickie James will be doing an interview on Smackdown tomorow explaining her reasons for being La Luchadora.

-After Raw on the WWE Network wil be Corey Graves & Cathy Kelley previewing the next five episodes of Holy Foley with Mick & Noelle Foley. The new episodes go up on Sunday.

-Today's Variety has a story on one of the films at Sundance, "Bushwick," a low budget movie which stars Dave Bautista. The review called it solid B movie excitement, and said, "a surprisingly potent performance from professional wrestler (and "Guardians of the Galaxy" co-star) Dave Bautista should only add to the appeal for a young male audience." The story noted the real star is Brittany Snow, but Bautista should be central to the promotion of the movie. The characters played by Snow and Bautista end up bonding during a military invasion of Brooklyn.

-WWE announced tickets going on sale Friday for a 3/24 show in Montreal at the Bell Centre, a Raw show featuring Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins as the stars and also advertising Charlotte Flair, Cesaro, Sheamus and The New Day.

**UPDATES for Jan.24/17**

-The Smackdown and 205 Live tapings are tonight in Toledo, Ohio at the Huntington Center with Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper advertised for Smackdown and Neville vs. Cedric Alexander on 205 Live. It is the final show before the Royal Rumble and thus far there are 21 announced entrants into the Rumble and still the possibility of 1-2 matches being added to fill out the show.

-Monday night’s episode of Raw did 3,290,000 viewers and would be their highest number since August 29th (the night Kevin Owens won the vacant Universal title in a four-way match) and up from 3,264,000 viewers last week. This week’s show featured Bill Goldberg promoted ahead of time and opened with 3.31 million viewers, grew to 3.46 in the second hour and then dropped to 3.11 for the final hour, which featured Goldberg, Brock Lesnar and a surprise appearance by The Undertaker to close the show.

Even with the push throughout the show where it was clear Goldberg was in the final segment, the third hour was still down, although that doesn't mean it didn't pick up for the overrun.

There was the usual drop for the over 50 audience but less of a drop in other categories, but every demo was down from the second hour to the third hour.

-Linda McMahon appeared in front of the Senate panel on Tuesday for her confirmation hearing for her nomination as the leader of the Small Business Administration within President Donald Trump’s cabinet. Both Paul Levesque and Stephanie McMahon were on hand for the hearing. Both were mentioned multiple times, including in awkward comments by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. Following the question period, a vote will take place and she could be confirmed by next week if she is approved. The Washington Post has highlights of today’s hearing with McMahon.

For those wanting McMahon to be questioned about WWE's business practices, that didn't happen. The entire hearing was cordial with most of the questions focusing on how McMahon would work with them in her role. Recently elected Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois was the only one to bring up how WWE classifies its employees, noting that she talked about the issue with Linda previously. Duckworth didn't pose any questions on the subject during the hearing, but posted on her Facebook account that she has concerns about WWE's labor practices under Linda that she hopes will be addressed as the confirmation process goes forward. Duckworth al

-Bill Goldberg has made a wise choice following Monday’s episode of Raw:

"Going out a limb …. but I’m putting the pre match headbutt on the shelf for now… kinda made me a bit loopy out there."

-Kurt Angle spoke to TMZ Sports and is shutting down the rumors of appearing in the Royal Rumble match this Sunday. He said he has not spoken with WWE about anything beyond the Hall of Fame in March. Angle also posted a reaction to his inclusion into the WWE Hall of Fame on his website.

-The American Airlines Center in Dallas is promoting a singles match between Brock Lesnar and Big Show for the Raw house show on Friday February 17th. The arena is also listing Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman and Seth Rollins vs. Rusev for the top matches on the show.

-The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that John Cena will host the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards on Saturday March 11th.

-The WWE stock closed at $19.53 on Tuesday.

-Roman Reigns did media at ESPN today in advance of the Royal Rumble on Sunday. He was a guest on SportsCenter and the Cheap Heat podcast, as well as appearing on Facebook Live with WWE on ESPN.

-Goldberg was recently interviewed by the Sporting News.

-Alexa Bliss was interviewed by the Akron Beacon Journal about her experiences with anorexia and how she's worked to overcome them.

-Jim Ross posted an apology to anyone who was affected by his remarks about how WWE handled the death of Jimmy Snuka. Ross had said that he had no issues with WWE's tribute to Snuka and called trying to posthumously prove Snuka's potential involvement in the 1983 death of Nancy Argentino an "Oliver Stone quest." His remarks were covered in Sunday's edition of the Daily Update of the Wrestling Observer.

-Netflix has acquired the rights to "Nobody Speak: Hulk Hogan, Gawker and Trials of a Free Press." The documentary looks at the implication of Hogan's legal battle with Gawker.

**UPDATES for Jan.25/17**

-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, the movie that featured WWE superstar Sheamus in a supporting role as Rocksteady, was nominated for Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel in this year’s Razzie’s, which are the unofficial Anti-Oscars, celebrating the worst of Hollywood for the past year

-On the other end of the spectrum, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson won this year’s Peoples’ Choice Award for Favourite Premium Series Actor for his work on his HBO series Ballers (his second such win in a row). Johnson was also nominated for Best Comedic Movie Actor for his role in the movie Central Intelligence, but he lost to his co-headliner in that film, comedian Kevin Hart. In other Johnson news, his animated movie Moana was nominated for the Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Animated Feature.

-EW.com took a peek at the posters for the upcoming Baywatch movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

-The National Post, has a story about Linda McMahon's confirmation as President Trump's choice to run the Small Business Administration: All about the game: Gentle questions at Senate confirmation for Linda McMahon especially after wrestler Triple H shows up.

-SmackDown's Royal Rumble go-home show averaged 2.556 million viewers Tuesday night on the USA Network, down four percent from last week.

The show was 10th for the night on cable in terms of total viewers but third in the 18-49 demo with a 0.86 rating, trailing The New Edition Story and Curse of Oak Island.

It's notable that SmackDown held just 77 percent of the Raw audience from the night before, which is below the usual 80-85 percent level the show is usually at. This could be due to the fact that Monday's Raw was a somewhat loaded episode with Brock Lesnar and Goldberg both advertised.

The only thing advertised for SmackDown this week was a match between Wyatt Family members Luke Harper and Randy Orton, which kicked off the show. The main event of The Miz challenging Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship was set up in the night's opening segment.

Tuesday's total was still above the show's average since moving from Thursday nights. That number now stands at 2.501 million viewers, which is 85 percent of Raw's average of 2.956 million in the same time frame.

-ESPN's sports business reporter Darren Rovell interviewed John Cena for an article about Cena's value as a brand and business entity.

-The WWE announced on last night's 205 Live that Akira Tozawa would be debuting on next week's episode of the show.

-During his appearance on SportsCenter yesterday, Roman Reigns said that Ronda Rousey could make a successful transition to WWE if she wanted to.

-Nikki Bella impersonated AJ Styles on the Bella Twins' YouTube channel.

**UPDATES for Jan.26/17**

-Triple H (Paul Levesque) did various interviews at [ur]http://slam.canoe.com/Slam/Wrestling/2017/01/26/22699866.html and http://www.f4wonline.com/wwe-news/audio-hhh-nxt-takeover-wwe-uk-talent-restrictions-matt-riddle-229076 from his regular press conference. Some notes:

*The topic of conversation quickly turned to what restrictions the newly signed wrestlers face after some have been pulled from appearances in recent weeks.

"There's a lot of confusion based on that." Levesque said. "A lot of the confusion is based on people's refusal to acknowledge the reality of the situation. We signed talent as a part of this UK tournament and are looking forward to doing hopefully what will become a weekly show over there. The talent knew going in what the deal was, they knew what the restrictions were, and they knew what the restrictions weren't. We're not restricting them from working for anybody, as long as it's not distributed. As long as there is no distribution outside of the live event."

*When asked about the differences in format between the UK tournament and Cruiserweight Classic, Levesque said that what works best depends on the goal of the tournament and what they're trying to accomplish. He expressed optimism in 205 Live, but noted that incorporating the cruiserweights has been a work in progress. He said that he still believes in the show and has high hopes for it, and likes the synergy between 205 Live and Raw.

*"The idea for me is to be able to take a weekly show in the UK and be able to run live events off of it, but to also be able to support some of the other groups that are over there as well through that process, and to be able to have these guys work," Levesque said. "But they have to be quality places for guys to work, you know what I mean? And I've said this, and I'll say it again, I want to work with guys that cultivate talent, not use talent, and there is a difference."

"Cultivating talent means these guys work with them, they have regular shows where they work with the same talent or they have storylines, and they're progressing talent's careers, and trying to help them progress in those careers, helping them become better at cutting promos, helping them become better at storytelling, progressing them."

*Levesque responded to a question from Dave Meltzer about EVOLVE star Matt Riddle by noting that they saw Riddle's talent when he previously tried out for the company. He referenced the issues that led to Riddle's exit from the UFC by saying that he believes in second chances, but said that people have to go through a period of time where they prove themselves.

Without getting into the details, Levesque said that he helped nudge along the process to get Riddle taken care of and to a place where he could be cultivated as a wrestler. He said that Riddle was just promise during his tryout, but he's a talented kid and is doing very well.

*Levesque noted in the opening of the call that the build to this TakeOver was unique because of challenges presented by WWE's strategic changes that affected NXT's schedule.

While previewing the TakeOver card, Levesque had praise for everyone on the show. He said that you can't say enough about Shinsuke Nakamura's talent and charisma, while Bobby Roode is hell-bent on proving that he's the star he's always said he is.

-The WWE is bringing the Royal Rumble back to Philadelphia next year.

Though much of this week's focus is on Sunday's show at the Alamodome, Philly.com broke the news on Thursday morning that the 2018 Royal Rumble will take place at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The event will be held on January 28th of next year.

In addition to the Rumble, the arena will also host three other WWE shows that week, with NXT TakeOver taking place on Saturday, Raw on Monday, and SmackDown on Tuesday. Holding four straight nights of shows in the same city is WWE's plan for their "big four" pay-per-views going forward.

“WWE has enjoyed a very special relationship with the city and its fans over decades, and that important heritage made Philadelphia a very natural choice to host this unprecedented four-night celebration,” WWE’s executive vice president of special events John Saboor told Philly.com. “Our decision to place next year’s Royal Rumble celebration in Philadelphia is truly another exciting and important step in the continued growth of WWE’s four largest annual events.”

Philadelphia was last home to the Rumble in 2015, where the fans were vocal in their opposition of Roman Reigns' win in the main event. The city has been in the running to host WrestleMania in recent years, but lost out to New Orleans for 2018's event.

-Very busy weekend coming with Bellator tomorrow night, a somewhat loaded Arena Mexico show as well, plus UFC on FOX and NXT Takeover Saturday and the Royal Rumble on Sunday. The UFC main card and NXT Takeover will be going head-to-head.

-There will be an NXT Awards show on WWE Network prior to Takeover at 7 p.m. Saturday night.

-CBS Sports has a story on the first Royal Rumble in St. Louis.

**UPDATES for Jan.27/17**

-Despite the Royal Rumble on Sunday, the WWE a full schedule of house shows this weekend and begins with the Raw crew in Hobbs, New Mexico with Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns advertised for the main event and Rusev vs. Seth Rollins listed. The Raw crew is in Abilene, Texas on Saturday and the Smackdown crew is in San Angelo on Saturday.

-The NXT crew has a house show tonight in Dallas at the South Side Ballroom with all the major NXT talent advertised on the eve of Takeover.

-The mid-season finale of Total Divas averaged 696,000 viewers this past Wednesday on E! Since moving to the 9pm timeslot, the show has averaged 659,800 as compared to 579,800, which the show averaged for the first five episodes of the season of 8pm.

-Shawn Michaels confirmed on Friday’s “Talk is Jericho” show that he is living in Florida but also owns a place in Texas. Michaels said he is down at the Performance Center but isn’t running anything and is in discussions about a possible role for him within the Orlando system

-Mada Abdelhamid, who was a participant on last year’s Tough Enough series, announced today that he has asked for and been granted his release by the WWE. Abdelhamid was offered a deal after the conclusion of the show and was sent to the Performance Center in Orlando. He stated that he had to make a decision to what was best for his family as his reasoning for requesting his release.

-Democracy Now recently spoke to Brian Knappenberger, who is the director of “Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press”, which is the documentary that Netflix recently purchased the rights to and covering the Gawker Media vs. Hulk Hogan case.

-Right now nobody knows when the first match goes into the ring, but probably between 5:30 and 6 p.m. Eastern time.

-Monday will be Raw in Laredo, TX for what is likely to be one of the highest rated episodes of the show this year. Brock Lesnar is advertised. Bill Goldberg is not advertised for the show and as of right now is not booked on the show. There will also be a Smackdown house show in Hidalgo, TX.

Smackdown and 205 Live will be taped on Tuesday in Corpus Christi, TX.

-There will also be another NXT TV taping at Full Sail University on Wednesday, starting the build for the WrestleMania show in Orlando. The WWE will be taping one week of NXT programming tomorrow night before they go on the air, at about 7 p.m. in San Antonio.

-The tryout match with the NXT women's four-way done last night in Houston was not good. Both the crowd didn't get into it and it was a sloppy match. They will likely be working it again tonight in Dallas to get ready for Sunday.

-Pete Dunne, Mark Andrews and Trent Seven are all working on Sunday for Progress Wrestling at their show in London at the Electric Ballroom. They had been pulled from a show in London as well as a podcast the day before. Five of the wrestlers in the U.K. tournament were being brought to San Antonio this weekend including the final four. So that looks to have changed. Tyler Bate is not listed for anything this weekend in the U.K. Dunne defends his Progress title against Jimmy Havoc in the main event.

-As of a few days ago, Jason Jordan & Chad Gable, even though tag team champions, had not been told they were in the Rumble.

-Nikki Bella has been named Executive Producer of Total Divas going forward.

-The WWE has moved the women's six man match on Sunday's Royal Rumble show to the preshow. Given the main show is four hours and has five matches, that would indicate maybe a surprise segment, as well as very long matches.

-The Los Angeles Times has some interviews with WWE talent. Dean Ambrose talks about being overlooked in WWE's Royal Rumble.
Bayley discusses facing Charlotte at the Royal Rumble on Sunday.

-AJ Styles talked to Sporting News about his first year in WWE, the Royal Rumble, chemistry with John Cena, possibly extending his career and more.

-Kurt Angle has been pulled out of appearing at WrestleCon over WrestleMania weekend.

-The WWE's Twitter account posted the following injury update after NXT aired this week:

"INJURY UPDATE: After last week's battle against #TheRevival, #TM61's @ShaneThorneWWE will be out of action for 7-9 months. #WWENXT"

**UPDATES for Jan.28/17**

-At http://www.bardown.com/michael-jordan-wwe-congratulate-serena-williams-with-fantastic-gifts-1.660007 WWE's Triple H posted a photo of a new custom championship belt for Aussie Open winner Serena Williams.

-Corey Graves stepped down as an NXT announcer and will be replaced by Nigel McGuinness. He'll takeover on TV as Tom Phillips, Tom Phillips and Graves called the NXT Takeover show.

-Here are the awards for the NXT Awards:

Breakout Stars Of The Year: Peyton Royce & Billie Kay
NXT Match Of The Year: DIY vs The Revival from NXT TakeOver: Toronto
Tag Team Of The Year: The Revival
Female Competitor Of The Year: Asuka (which was stolen by Peyton Royce and Billie Kay)
Male Competitor Of The Year: Shinsuke Nakamura
Overall Competitor Of The Year: Shinsuke Nakamura

-Samoa Joe, new UK champion Tyler Bate and Michael Hayes were at the NXT Takeover show but in the crowd. Matt Riddle of EVOLVE who had one of Chris Hero's last independent show matches this weekend was also in the crowd. Hero will return as Kassius Ohno to NXT.

Chris Hero had what's scheduled to be his final independent wrestling match at EVOLVE 77 today against Zack Sabre Jr. Hero gave a farewell speech putting over Sabre after the match and talked about the importance of having support, saying that he couldn't have returned to NXT without the support he's gotten in his time away.

-Seth Rollins appeared from out of the crowd and announced he was taking over the NXT Takeover show. He demanded Triple H come out. He stated that this is where he started and he knew Hunter was here and would not leave until he came out.

HHH came out and teased finally getting the confrontation that had been teased since August, but he sent security down instead. Rollins destroyed 4 security guards, but got taken down by 7. So for future reference, 7 is the optimum number of security guards.

-Wolfgang from the UK tournament worked a dark match before the NXT Takeover show. Bate worked the TV tapings done for future shows.

-Chris Jericho posted:

"Just checked out the @WWENXT show in the locker room at #wweabilene...everybody is working hard and kicking ass! Congrats #NXTCrew!"

-Philly.com has an interview with Graves about how he's enjoying his current role in WWE.

-Fox Sports has an interview with AJ Styles in advance of the Royal Rumble on Sunday.

**UPDATES for Jan.29/17**

-Tonight is the 30th annual Royal Rumble (the 29th anniversary of the first televised version from 1988 in Hamilton) and takes place from The Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. As a live event, it’s going to be a big success compared to the last time they ran The Alamodome in 1997. While the attendance will be similar to 1997, tickets are so much more expensive for this year’s version and the gate will be one of, if not the highest non-WrestleMania events the company has ever draw. Outside of WrestleMania, the major non-WrestleMania shows would include the 1992 SummerSlam event from Wembley Stadium, a 2002 Colonial Stadium event in Australia and the Big Event from Toronto in 1986.

The Rumble match itself is one of the best built Rumbles in years as you have more major names than usual with different directions of how things can go. The most logical outcomes would narrow the field to Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton and Chris Jericho and in the case of Orton, you could do a surprise with Bray Wyatt and still arrive at the same destination but that is the WrestleMania direction with Orton and Wyatt. There is more wiggle room with two world title matches at WrestleMania, as the option could be there to have Lensar win the Rumble and turn the Goldberg vs. Lesnar match into a title match at WrestleMania and Goldberg wins the title in March at Fast Lane. Jericho is another option if the Kevin Owens vs. Jericho feud will be for the Universal title.

There is one slot that at last word for a NXT wrestler. There could be more as well as surprise entrants with 8 unannounced spots left.

-Prior to the NXT Takeover show, they taped three matches that presumably will make up this week’s episode and features the following matches that were taped:

*Ember Moon vs. Aliyah
*Tyler Bate vs. Oney Lorcan
*Elias Samson vs. No Way Jose

-Chris Jericho spoke to the Metro outlet in the U.K. and stated that he will be putting wrestling on hold come May to focus on Fozzy and that you can’t do both at the same time. Jericho also recently stated that he signed a new contract with the WWE (which have all been short terms deal extensions since he returned last January).

-Right at the time of the PPV, Randy Orton was the -2000 favorite which stems from Wednesday's Observer. The number dropped earlier today with a lot of people betting on anyone but Orton at +600, betting on the idea Vince McMahon changes his mind based on the finish getting out. But money started to come in strong this afternoon on Orton once again.

-With many protests at airports as well as celebrities and athletes speaking out, the recent Muslim travel ban by US President Obama also affected the WWE since Sami Zayn is Syrian in ancestry. He himself is not affected, in the sense if he left the country he would have no trouble coming back in. But, understandably, he is furious about this.

-UFC champion Conor McGregor gave a "Never say never, I know there's been conversations (ongoing)," answer yesterday when doing his live interview PPV from Manchester, England when Ariel Helwani asked him about the WWE. Earlier, Conor on Instagram in building up the PPV did a F*** UFC, F*** WWE and F*** boxing thing to garner attention to the idea he'd rip on everyone, which he didn't do.

-As far as Google searches go, Royal Rumble was already No. 3 for the day as of this morning with 100,000 and it'll likely end up near 1 million. Valentina Shevchenko was No. 6 at that point today. For yesterday, UFC was No.6 with 100,000. Nothing from NXT placed.

-There are new WWE title belts being made by Orange County Choppers.

-There was a huge line at a Toys R Us in San Antonio this morning for an A.J Styles signing, including a lot of fans who camped out the night before.

-A lot of the WWE Twitters were hacked yesterday.

-The WWE brought the entire crew in from Orlando to see the Takeover show and the Rumble this weekend.

-In the prime weekly slot of right after Raw, the WWE Network will be airing a new WWE 24 documentary on this past WrestleMania behind the scenes.

Tune in for more news and notes leading to the Royal Rumble, so don't 'cha dare miss it!
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With the Rumble in the rear view mirror with Randy Orton winning the match to main event Wrestlemania, there are 2 brand PPVs beforehand. WWE Elimination Chamber for SmackDown is up first in 2 weeks so here is the build and news for it.

General sources are as normally credited to http://www.f4wonline.com/ and http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/news.html and http://fightnetwork.com/ and http://www.411mania.com/wrestling and http://www.pwi-online.com and http://www.thescore.com/trending while please also note that all news and rumours are subject to updates and changes.

SmackDown presents WWE Elimination Chamber on Sunday, Febrauary 12 from Phoenix, Arizona

Additional Source: http://www.wwe.com/shows/eliminationchamber and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elimination_Chamber_(2017)

UPDATED CARD:

*Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship: John Cena (C) vs. AJ Styles vs. Bray Wyatt vs. The Miz vs. the Intercontinental Champion Dean Amborse vs. Dolph Ziggler
*Nikki Bella vs. Natalya
*Tag Team Turmoil Elimination Match for the Tag Team Championship: American Alpha (C-Chad Gable & Jason Jordan) vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) vs. The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) vs. The Vaudevillains (Aiden English & Simon Gotch) vs. Breezango (Fandango & Tyler Breeze) vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno
*Women's Championship Match: Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Naomi

Raw Presents WWE Fastlane on Sunday, March 5 from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/wwefastlane and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fastlane_(2017)

UPDATED CARD:

*To be announced

-The WWE posted a story that AJ Styles will be in the Elimination Chamber match along with John Cena on February 12th. The other participants in the match will likely be made on this week’s Smackdown episode.

-The WWE has announced NXT live events for Columbus, Ohio on March 2nd, Cleveland on March 3rd and Youngstown for March 4th with tickets going on sale this Friday.

-Ric Flair was in San Antonio at the Royal Rumble and was interviewed following John Cena’s title win over AJ Styles.

-The WWE stock closed at $19.57 on Monday.

-Goldberg will be on Raw in Portland next week to respond to Brock Lesnar's Wrestlemania match challenge made on Raw.

-Those disappointed that Samoa Joe didn't appear at the Royal Rumble didn't have to wait very long for him to make his main roster debut.

While appearing on Raw for the first time, Joe attacked Seth Rollins in the main event segment of Monday night's show. The face-to-face confrontation between Rollins and Stephanie McMahon that had been advertised going into the night led to a promised collision between Rollins and Triple H later, but Joe blindsided Rollins before he could meet Triple H in the ring.

The segment ended with Rollins passing out to the Coquina Clutch.

Joe's debut had been speculated about for weeks as he's been in a holding pattern in NXT since dropping the brand's title to Shinsuke Nakamura for the second time last December. His only appearance at NXT TakeOver: San Antonio was when he was shown on camera sitting in the audience.

-Smackdown and 205 Live will be taped on Tuesday in Corpus Christi, TX. The new WWE Champion John Cena is advertised to appear.

There will also be another NXT TV taping at Full Sail University on Wednesday, starting the build for the WrestleMania show in Orlando.

-Regarding the Royal Rumble PPV, the odds shifted greatly two hours before the show started to Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson beating Cesaro & Sheamus, to where they were immediately 15-to-1 favorites after being slight underdogs an hour earlier. So smart money did come in on every match and all the favorites won.

-There were a lot of issues regarding the Royal Rumble. There were more complaints about buffering issues than in a long time. There was a glitch at one point where you couldn't get a replay of the Rumble with the idea is was blacked out due to restrictions. That's the case in India due to the contract, but somehow people in the U.S. for a period of time due to some issue were believed to be in India and couldn't watch the replay.

-There were also complaints regarding people getting their seats moved and problems with seating and were making their way around social media. The complaints included the usual disabled parking lot being shut down by the building as WWE made it exclusive for talent, so disabled veterans and handicapped people who are used to parking there and were directed there by unknowing people working at the entrance had to park elsewhere. The WWE said they were not aware of that issue.

Below is an e-mail sent out on Monday via a Wrestling Observer reader about the issues at the building:

"As best I can explain, this is what happened to some fans in the 300 Level of the Alamodome at the Royal Rumble last night. We had cheap seats up on the 300 Level of the Alamodome, behind camera side. A friend has purchased a group block of tickets so we could all watch together and I had purchased 2 seats of this block from him. My companion and I got in line early and were at our section entrance at 3:45pm or so, (doors opened at 3:30). All of the entrances to the seats on this half of the upper deck were blocked off. Eventually some Alamodome employees explained that part of this section (which included our seats) was closed off for "cameras and sound" and we would be provided with new tickets. The section was covered with black curtains as WWE normally does to make the building look full. This occurred at about 4:00pm. There were literally hundreds and hundreds of people in the hallway, unable to be seated.

The crowd became increasingly unhappy for obvious reasons and then several San Antonio Police officers were brought in to maintain order. The Police officers were admittedly very professional, if as unhelpful as the Alamodome staff. We were told by some members of the Alamodome staff to go to the first floor. Then by others the second floor, and ultimately back up to the upper section.We ran around the Alamodome for almost an hour being sent on one fruitless pursuit after another just to ultimately return to the section of our tickets, where our seats were no longer available.

We were told multiple times over the next 80-90 minutes that we would be given new seats, but no time-table was provided. We missed both the Tag Title pre-show match (I missed a damn title change) and the Smackdown Women's 3v3 tag match completely. Eventually, an official from the Alamodome brought up a bundle of tickets and started exchanging them with the crowd of people waiting. There was a massive rush to the table of people just trying to sit down and enjoy the event. It was a borderline mob environment. We received these replacement tickets at about 5:20pm, more than 90 minutes after arriving at our section of seating,

We got tickets for the lower section behind all of WWE's production rigs. Our view was obscured by both the scaffolding they set the main static camera's on and the "snake" of control wires for the overhead lighting and sound rigs. These seats are the ones normally blacked over because they are an obscured view. Ultimately, because we were relatively early in moving down to this section, we moved to better seats that were less obscured and hoped for the best in terms of not being asked to move because our seats didn't match the replacement tickets.

The Alamodome staff were uninformed and unhelpful for the entirety of this debacle. I called their customer service line from in the building and was told they could not help me. We even sent an email to their customer service last night and the response was to contact someone at WWE. It was a mess on the part of everyone involved and could have been easily prevented by making the decision to cover those sections long before the event started. "

The WWE did make a statement regarding this, saying:

“As with any major live event, not to mention one with more than 52,000 attendees, you can expect to receive some number of complaints. The 20 complaints we received is much less than any event of its size. Nonetheless, WWE will, as always, do everything possible to accommodate our fans."

-There was a plan to make a bigger deal of John Cena tying Ric Flair's record but it was rewritten out of the show. So many people know it's not a real number (16) for Flair's titles, plus from a history perspective, as great as last night's match was, a short title reign is kind of weak for the record setter which may be why it's being downplayed. That also could be an argument not to have done it, but that was the long-term plan when it was supposed to be a big deal.

-Chris Jericho suffered a minor ankle injury last night when he and everyone else was being thrown around by Brock Lesnar.

-The 4/10 Raw TV taping will be at the Nassau Coliseum, the first event in the new renovated arena. That will thrill the talent to no end, since Nassau isn't exactly the favorite city to do television in because of a history of bad crowd reactions.

-WrestleMania Fan Axxess tickets are on sale today using the code WWEAPP

**UPDATES for Feb.1/17**

-Monday’s episode of Raw did a strong number with approximately 3,610,000 viewers watching the three-hour show and would be their highest Raw number since the day after WrestleMania last year.

The show wasn’t at the level of last year’s show coming out of the Rumble, which did 4,091,000 viewers. For a comparison, it was a 12 percent year-to-year decline. That show was up 18 percent from the week before, and was bolstered by an appearance by Dwayne Johnson.

The heaviest competition was from a variety of cable news outlets doing big numbers.

Monday’s Raw from Laredo did 3.63 million in the opening hour and stayed consistent with 3.64 million in the second hour and only a slight drop to 3.57 million for the final hour of the show, which built to Triple H’s first appearance on Raw since last August.

The three hours were:

8 p.m. 3.63 million viewers
9 p.m. 3.64 million viewers
10 p.m. 3.57 million viewers

-WWE posted a clip from the WWE 24 documentary that aired after Raw last night that features Shane McMahon embracing Vince McMahon after Shane's Hell in a Cell match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 32.

-King Jerry Lawler's Memphis BBQ Company opened in Cordova, Tennessee on Monday night. Lawler is an owner of the restaurant.

-In an interview with Fox Sports during the NHL's All Star weekend, CM Punk said that he's working hard on getting his next fight and is throwing names for opponents at Dana White. Punk said that he'll continue fighting even if his next fight isn't in the UFC.

-Word is that Nikki Bella will be officially retiring from wrestling after WrestleMania. Rumours swirl though about this and what type of match it could be including a mixed tag involving her and John Cena vs. the Miz and Maryse, or a women's championship match.

-Speaking of WrestleMania, UFC champion Connor McGregor has said that he has had talks with WWE about appearing at the big show in Orlando.

-Seth Rollings posted online a status update about a possible injury again:

"Wanted to take a second to thank everyone who has reached out to me over the last two days. Life doesn't always go your way, but that is no excuse to surrender. If anything, obstacles exist to help us grow and evolve. This reinjury to my surgically repaired knee is real and a lot is up in the air right now, but one thing remains constant: my resolve. This doesn't end for me until I've reclaimed the throne. And for me, fighting and defeating Triple H is the only way. I will work harder than I ever have and push myself beyond what I know. This isn't over. The only way to wear the crown is to slay the king. I know what must be done and there's nothing that can stop me."

The WWE posted a video of Seth Rollins leaving the arena on crutches from this past Monday’s edition of Raw. According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, it is a legitimate knee injury to the same knee that he injured in November 2015 and ended up missing seven-months of action. Rollins will be re-evaluated later this week to determine how significant the injury is and if it will require time off. Based off the angle on Monday, it would seem likely that Rollins would be working against Samoa Joe at the Fast Lane event on March 5th.

Dave Meltzer reports that Rollins suffered the injury on Raw in his brawl with Samoa Joe. WWE confirmed the news in an announcement on their website that played into Rollins' storyline with Triple H and Joe.

If Rollins is out for an extended period of time, it would be a blow to the WrestleMania 33 card after Rollins' previous knee injury kept him out of last year's show in Dallas.

Rollins had been set to face Triple H at WrestleMania in Orlando for months before their storyline finally reignited over Royal Rumble weekend. Rollins called out Triple H at NXT TakeOver: San Antonio on Saturday, leading to Joe ambushing Rollins before he could meet Triple H in the ring on Monday.

Joe posted an in-character tweet about Rollins' injury:

"@TripleH I believe I have delivered as requested."

Finn Balor tweeted a get well card to Rollins.

-ESPN will be premiering the 30 for 30 documentary on the XFL Thursday night at 9pm Eastern and have released a full trailer for the doc. It appears all the key people were interviewed with the major ones being Vince McMahon and Dick Ebersol (his son Charlie directed the documentary). Other interview subjects from the trailer include Jesse Ventura and Jonathan Coachman. For those in Canada, the XFL 30 for 30 documentary will premiere on TSN2 on Wednesday February 8th at 8pm Eastern.

-The Madison Square Garden website is promoting a singles match between Brock Lesnar and Kevin Owens for the March 12th house show at the arena. They are also listing John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose, Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper, American Alpha vs. The Usos, Apollo Crews vs. Dolph Ziggler, Alexa Bliss & Mickie James & Natalya & Carmella vs. Nikki Bella & Becky Lynch & Naomi & Tamina and Rhyno & Heath Slater & Kalisto vs. Tyler Breeze & Fandango & Curt Hawkins.

Madison Square Garden's website lists a "special attraction WWE Universal Championship match" between Owens and Lesnar for the venue's SmackDown brand house show on Sunday, March 12th. If that does happen, it would be the first time Owens and Lesnar have faced each other.

Despite it currently being listed as a title match, that could change with Owens defending his Universal Championship at Fast Lane on March 5th.

The inclusion of the two Raw stars is the most noteworthy thing about the advertised MSG card, but some of the show's other matches could give an indication on SmackDown's post-Elimination Chamber booking.

-The WWE is advertising a singles non-title match between John Cena and Randy Orton for next Tuesday’s Smackdown in Seattle.

-Mick Foley has provided an update on his pending hip replacement surgery. Foley had posted recently that he no longer had health insurance and was delaying his surgery as a result. Since that time, he was fixed his insurance issues and is now awaiting a break in his WWE schedule so he can have the procedure, which will restrict him from flying for six-weeks. Foley will require a complete replacement of his right hip and cited his years of diving off the apron with elbow drops as the major factor.

-The upcoming autobiography from Jim Ross is scheduled to be released on October 3rd. The book is titled “Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling” and is written by Ross and Paul O’Brien.

-The WWE stock closed at $19.61 on Wednesday.

-Following the best ratings number Raw has posted since last year's episode after WrestleMania on Monday night, SmackDown had a big jump as well for their post-Royal Rumble show on Tuesday.

The show averaged 2.817 million viewers. That is up 10 percent from last week's total and is the best number for the brand since December 27th, which was the return of John Cena to television after a lengthy absence. It was the third best number SmackDown has done since the live draft special last July.

SmackDown finished ninth for the night in total viewers on cable but was first in the 18-49 demo with a 1.02 rating.

Tuesday night's episode retained 78 percent of the Raw audience from the night before, which was the exact same percentage as last week. That would seem to indicate the same post-PPV bump that Raw received coming off of the Rumble.

-ESPN interviewed Nikki Cross about her career and being a last-minute addition to SAnitY.

-Heidi Lovelace worked at the NXT Tapings with Mandy Rose. UK Champion Tyler Bate defended his title against Trent Seven and Pete Dunne took on Mark Andrews too.

**UPDATES for Feb.2-3/17**

-On Twitter the WWE posted the following on Thursday:

"It was awesome, shocking, and revolutionary...
Don't miss the @30for30 film #ThisWasTheXFL TONIGHT at 9/8c on @ESPN!"

-The Squared Circle Sirens web site noted a number of names at the current 42 women WWE tryouts this week. Among the names there are Nicole Matthews, Miranda Salinas, Hyaneyoung, Renee Michelle, Anna Theresa (who won the Ms. New York beauty pageant this past year), fitness competitor Stephanie Rowe and Lei'd Tapa.

-David Otunga will be appearing on the CBS TV show "Criminal Minds" on 2/8, playing a nightclub bouncer.

-While John Cena is not in a Super Bowl commercial, his voice will be in this commercial on Sunday.

-Hulk Hogan is opening up a second store in Orlando to be ready for WrestleMania weekend, which probably tells you what everyone already knows. The store will be located on I-Drive.

-At http://www.thescore.com/nfl/news/1224002-ric-flair-hypes-up-falcons-at-wing-bowl talks about Ric Flair continuing his current support for the Atlanta Falcons to win the Super Bowl on Sunday at the recent Wing Bowl in Philadelphia.

-The WWE starts their tour with the Raw crew running a show Friday night in Broomfield, Colorado with Seth Rollins obviously off the shows. Saturday night, the Raw crew is in Salt Lake City with Brock Lesnar working that show. On Saturday, the Smackdown crew will be running Grand Forks, North Dakota and Winnipeg on Sunday. John Cena and Randy Orton are not scheduled for this weekend’s house shows.

For the WWE house shows this week, Roman Reigns was originally off the cards, but with the injury to Seth Rollins, he's been a late addition in Broomfield and Eugene. He's not listed for Salt Lake City, but if he's going to be in Colorado on a Friday and Oregon on a Sunday, going home in between doesn't make a lot of sense. Chris Jericho is also not listed for this weekend.

-Both Bill Goldberg and Brock Lesnar are being advertised for the February 27th episode of Raw from the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This is the final Raw before the Fast Lane event, which Goldberg is also advertised for but not Lesnar at this time.

-Bret Hart says he is 100% recovered from prostate cancer surgery that he had a year ago and stresses the early detection of the cancer as saving him. Hart spoke to Sportsnet in Calgary and said that unfortunately his brother Smith did not detect it in time and may only have one year left to live.

-The WWE stock closed at $19.70 on Friday.

-Raw will be Monday night from Portland, OR. Both Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg are scheduled on the show. There is also a Smackdown brand house show in Abbotsford, BC.

-Tuesday has the Smackdown & 205 Live tapings in Seattle, with John Cena vs. Randy Orton in a non-title match, plus the plan was for a Neville title defense on the show as well.

-The "This was the XFL" special last night on ESPN did 917,000 viewers, which is a good number for such a show.

-The only thing new on Seth Rollins is that his situation is to be discussed on Raw.

-Cody Rhodes talks WWE wrestlers' knowledge of the indie scene. On leaving WWE on his own accord:

"I've done everything and more I was hoping to do, a lot of these independent groups come across like independents, they come across as brands. It's cool that I've done the more smaller independent shows, but also the larger companies too, last year I wrestled at WrestleMania, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla's Battle of Los Angeles, TNA's Bound For Glory, Ring of Honor's Final Battle and then obviously I did New Japan Pro Wrestling's Wrestle Kingdom, so the statistic is rather staggering for me, to have a period of these events coming so fast in a featured way, it ways heavily on my mind because you want each to be good."

-Jim Ross promoted his WrestleMania weekend show in Orlando. On WWE using older wrestlers to build the product:

"They’re using some guys with some miles on the tires -- I’m not saying if the tires are treadless or not. But there’s two ways to use those veterans.You can use them against each other, get more eyeballs on the product and expose the younger talents in other ways, or you can figure out the way for the veterans to best give the rub to younger guys. WWE is doing a nice job of that right now."

**UPDATES for Feb.4-5/17**

-NXT referee Danilo Anfibio was given a sendoff at Friday night's house show in St. Augustine, Florida as he moves up to the SmackDown roster.

-Charles Robinson revealed in an interview on WWE.com that he tore his plantar fascia while refereeing John Cena vs. AJ Styles at the Royal Rumble and reflected on what it was like to be there for Cena's 16th title win. The plantar fascia is the largest ligament in the foot. Dominick Cruz suffered a partial tear of his plantar fascia prior to the T.J. Dillashaw fight last year. The Robinson injury happened 7 minutes into the match and had another 17 minutes to go with the injury.

-Friday night's Raw brand house show in Broomfield, Colorado was main evented by Kevin Owens vs. Big Show in a non-title street fight since both Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns weren't on the card.

-Hideo Itami continued teasing his return to NXT on Twitter:

"See you soon. @WWENXT"

-WWE.com has an article on the wrestlers at this week's Performance Center tryouts. Heidi Lovelace, Kimber Lee, and Andrea spoke about starting with WWE.

-The WWE Network on its hidden gems is apparently releasing two never before seen items from the 90s. One was a TV pilot that Konnan was in charge of when he was in WCW for a Latino-based television show where the Mexican stars would be the headliners. That lasted all of one taping. The other was a tribute to Stu Hart show in the 90s that featured major stars of different promotions, held in Calgary with Dory & Terry Funk vs. Bruce Hart & Brian Pillman. Also being released include a 1952 Killer Kowalski vs. Mr. Moto & Duke Keomuka handicap match, a 1966 Dallas match with Joe Blanchard & Cowboy Bob Ellis & Duke Keomuka vs. Bob Geigel & Waldo Von Erich & Gary Hart; a cage match with Bruno Sammartino vs. George Steele from MSG (date listed is July 29, 1970, but there was no MSG show on that date), Bill Watts vs Terry Funk (listed at 1975 from Mid South Wrestling, but it would be Leroy McGuirk's Championship Wrestling as Mid South wasn't even formed until years later), an Antonio Inoki vs Stan Hansen match from Calgary in 1979, Ric Flair vs. Buddy Rogers from 1979 in the Carolinas, Kerry Von Erich vs Ernie Ladd from 1981, Lighting Kid vs. Jerry Lynn from GWF in 1992, Edge & Christian vs. Nova & Frankie Kazarian from UPW (I was at that show), Leviathan (Batista) vs. Brock Lesnar from OVW, and a three way from FCW with Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns.

-Bill Goldberg is doing a three-date series of U.K. talk shows called "You're Next: An Evening with Bill Goldberg" on 6/26 in Glasgow, 6/27 in Manchester and 7/2 in London. Inside the Ropes is promoting this. tickets go on sale at Noon on Friday.

-Even though John Cena vs. Randy Orton was advertised for Tuesday's Smackdown tapings in Seattle, the WWE sent out a mailer for tickets this weekend that lists Cena vs. AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz as the double main event for the show. Just the usual plans change situation.

-John Layfield will be doing a new "Legends with JBL" show on Wednesday talking with Stan Hansen. Those shows are always interesting.

The quick build to the Elimination Chamber PPV continues, so don't 'cha dare miss it!
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Tonight’s episode of Raw takes place from the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon with Bill Goldberg appearing on the show to answer Brock Lesnar’s challenge for WrestleMania. Goldberg is advertised for the Fast Lane event on March 5th as both Lesnar and Goldberg are booked for Raw. Meanwhile SmackDown is live from Seattle tomorrow headlined by a non-title match between the WWE Champion John Cena and Randy Orton on the way to the Elimination Chamber this Sunday. The rest of the news of the week is next.

General sources are as normally credited to http://www.f4wonline.com/ and http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/news.html and http://fightnetwork.com/ and http://www.411mania.com/wrestling and http://www.pwi-online.com and http://www.thescore.com/trending while please also note that all news and rumours are subject to updates and changes.

SmackDown presents WWE Elimination Chamber on Sunday, Febrauary 12 from Phoenix, Arizona

Additional Source: http://www.wwe.com/shows/eliminationchamber and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elimination_Chamber_(2017)

UPDATED CARD:

*Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship: John Cena (C) vs. AJ Styles vs. Bray Wyatt vs. The Miz vs. the Intercontinental Champion Dean Amborse vs. Dolph Ziggler
*Nikki Bella vs. Natalya
*Tag Team Turmoil Elimination Match for the Tag Team Championship: American Alpha (C-Chad Gable & Jason Jordan) vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) vs. The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) vs. The Vaudevillains (Aiden English & Simon Gotch) vs. Breezango (Fandango & Tyler Breeze) vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno
*Women's Championship Match: Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Naomi
*Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James
*Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper
*2-on-1 Handicap Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. Kalisto & Apollo Crews

*Kickoff Show Match: Mojo Rawley vs. Curt Hawkins

Raw Presents WWE Fastlane on Sunday, March 5 from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/wwefastlane and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fastlane_(2017)

UPDATED CARD:

*WWE Universal Championship Match: Kevin Owens (C - w/ Chris Jericho) vs. Goldberg
*Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
*Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville (C) vs. Jack Gallagher

Wrestlemania 33 on Sunday, April 2 from Orlando, Florida

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/wrestlemania and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WrestleMania_33

UPDATED CARD:

*Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. Goldberg
*WWE Championship Match: 2017 Royal Rumble Winner Randy Orton vs. The Winner and Champion from the Elimination Chamber

**WWE Hall of Fame Class Presentation (Ceremony on April 1): Kurt Angle (Presenter TBA), The Rock 'n' Roll Express of Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson (Presenter TBA)

-The Rock'n' Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) are the latest names announced for the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame. Morton and Gibson are credited as one of the greatest babyface teams of all time with Morton as the ultimate study tool for the babyface in peril and working their matches around Morton’s selling and gaining sympathy from crowds. The two were paired together for the first time in the Memphis territory and would migrate to Mid-South in 1984 just a few months after the Midnight Express entered the Mid-South territory. The Express feud would be the one most synonymous for the Rock ‘n Rolls and would feud throughout the 80’s. Both teams would end up in Jim Crockett Promotions in 1985 at the time that Dusty Rhodes was booking the territory and JCP was on fire as a national touring company with weekly television on TBS. The two were most recently featured in the Tag Team Apocalypto match on Impact Wrestling in December.

The announcement that Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson would be joining the Hall of Fame was made by CBS Sports, with WWE also posting an article about it on their website. Morton & Gibson were voted into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame in 2014.

"It was a surprise," Morton said to CBS Sports. "I had a message on my phone (from WWE) to call the number back. I think they got a hold of Robert at the time. When they called, it was just like a sucker punch. It just knocked us off our feet."

"It's an honor for Ricky and me to go into the Hall of Fame," Gibson said.

The 2017 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony is set to take place on Friday, March 31st at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida as part of WrestleMania weekend in the city. It was already announced that Kurt Angle would headline this year's class.

-The latest trailer for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that has former WWE star Batista was released during the Super Bowl.

-A big focus on the show tonight will be how they address the knee injury to Seth Rollins and how they will proceed with the Triple H angle. It is tricky because the timeline suggests that Rollins should be okay for WrestleMania and there is little to no doubt that Rollins is going to attack his rehab aggressively to make sure he is as close to 100% for the show as possible. You can’t forecast how the rehab will go but it’s not as though he tore his ACL or is delaying major surgery, it is the same knee he hurt in 2015 but it’s a much less significant surgery. The assumption is that obviously the Fast Lane match is scrapped and they will proceed with the idea that Rollins is facing Triple H at WrestleMania. The knee injury should definitely be incorporated as a major part of the lead up to the match and allows Joe to have a major post-WrestleMania program with Rollins.

In all honesty, you could put Joe as a killer on Raw stemming from this angle and he becomes a new monster and gets the Rollins match at WrestleMania, but don't hold your breath on that one. It would start Joe off on a hot note, he’s fresh and you’d have a mega match coming out of WrestleMania if Joe were to beat the injured Rollins and you have a rematch down the road and also have Joe in a position to challenge for the title coming out of Mania with either Lesnar or Goldberg.

Rollins went back to Birmingham yesterday for more evaluation. For now it seems to be a MCL injury but he's being evaluated to be sure.

-The Smackdown crew has a house show tonight in Abbotsford, British Columbia with AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt as the top talent advertised. John Cena and Randy Orton did not work the house shows this past weekend but are scheduled for television on Tuesday night in Seattle.

-Dana Warrior, the widow of the Ultimate Warrior, announced that she signed a contract with the WWE on January 27th to become a brand ambassador for the company. This is part of continuing to market the Ultimate Warrior name, have her be part of the annual Ultimate Warrior Award, etc.

-From http://www.thescore.com/nfl/news/1226131-patriots-receiving-custom-plated-title-belt-from-wwe is news that the new Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots will receive a custom plated title belt. Triple H posted the belt on Twitter with a post:

"A never-say-quit team, a football dynasty, and an amazing #SB51.
Congrats @Patriots, this title is coming to New England!!"

-Rich Swann missed the weekend shows due to an ankle injury. The original plan was Neville vs. Swann on 205 Live on Tuesday. So that may be changed. Cedric Alexander replaced him in his spot last Tuesday and all weekend.

-The company announced yet another event over Mania week, a 4/5 NXT taping at Full Sail University. This will be the day after the Smackdown tapings at the Amway Arena.

-The Pittsburgh City Paper had a story about Trump's immigration restrictions and Bruno Sammartino.

-Tajiri is backstage in Portland, OR, so may be on Raw tonight. He's been out of action with a knee injury.

**UPDATES for Feb.7/17**

-In an update on Rollins status, Dave Meltzer reported on Wrestling Observer Radio that Rollins is considered “good” for WrestleMania and the company is moving forward with their original plans for the event (Rollins vs. Triple H). It was “touch and go” for Rollins last week after being injured at the end of RAW last week in the angle with Samoa Joe. He was told that he would be out of action between 6-8 weeks.

As noted, Rollins returned to Birmingham, Alabama ahead of Monday’s episode of RAW. If he returns again in a few weeks, that would be an indication that his injury is not as serious and he won’t need surgery. For now, we can assume he will be present for Wrestlemania 33. Only time will tell if he'll be wrestling or not.

-205 Live will have a Fatal 5-Way Elimination Match to crown a new #1 contender for the Cruiserweight Championship to be defended by Neville at Fastlane. This comes after Rich Swann's injury keeping him on the shelf. In the #1 contender match will be Cedric Alexander, Noam Dar, Tony Nese, Jack Gallagher and TJ Perkins.

-Charlotte Flair will be defending her Women's Championship against Bayley at next week's Raw in Las Vegas, Nevada.

-Goldberg will be facing Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 33 in Orlando, Florida, but only after challenging Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship at Fastlane.

Both matches were officially set on tonight's episode of Raw as Goldberg interrupted a segment with Owens and Chris Jericho in the ring. Goldberg quickly accepted Lesnar's challenge for a rematch at WrestleMania before setting his sights on the Universal title.

Owens said that Goldberg vs. Lesnar would be perfect for the undercard of WrestleMania as he claimed that the Owens vs. Jericho match that the two had been setting up would be the main event. Goldberg then challenged Owens to a Universal title match at Fastlane, which Jericho accepted on behalf of Owens after Goldberg took Jericho's list out of his hands.

Another match was also set for Fastlane on Monday night as it was announced that Roman Reigns would be taking on Braun Strowman at the upcoming pay-per-view. That match became apparent as their storyline continued at the Royal Rumble with Strowman costing Reigns his shot at the Universal title. Reigns then returned the favor as Strowman challenged Owens last week.

Fastlane will take place on March 5th at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It will be WWE's last PPV before WrestleMania 33 on April 2nd.

-Monday’s episode of Raw was down with approximately 3,110,000 watching the three-hour show on average. This show featured Bill Goldberg’s appearance to answer Brock Lesnar’s challenge and confirm their rematch for WrestleMania and set up his Fastlane match with Kevin Owens for the Universal title. The show also featured Samoa Joe’s first match on the main roster that built to throughout the show for the main event slot with Roman Reigns.

The first hour did 3.34 million viewers and then dropped to 3.17 in the second hour and then the third hour drop fell to 2.84 million. This third hour was the first hour of Raw to dip under 3 million viewers since January 9th.

The number is down from last week’s average of 3,610,000, which was the night after the Royal Rumble.

Next week’s show in Las Vegas will not have Bill Goldberg or Brock Lesnar on the show and is being promoted around Charlotte’s title defence against Bayley, the debut of Emmalina and a “Festival of Friendship” segment involving Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho.

To put that number into perspective, only five shows in 2016 outside of football season were lower, and this was with a fairly loaded show with Bill Goldberg and a fresh main event with Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe, although in fairness, expecting Joe to pull a good rating in the main event this early wasn't likely to happen and it's more an investment of positioning him strong to start.

The overall audience fell 14 percent from last week. It wasn't competition either, as there was nothing strong on cable out of the ordinary and no show on the networks hit 8 million viewers.

With the exception of two shows in August against the Olympics, two June shows against major NBA playoff games, and a Monday that fell on July 4th, this week's number was lower than any non-football Raw of 2016.

-Paige's life story could soon be making its way to the big screen.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson announced on Facebook on Tuesday that his Seven Bucks Productions company is producing a film based on WWE wrestler Paige (real name Saraya-Jade Bevis) and her family. The movie was inspired by a documentary that aired on Channel 4 in the UK that chronicled Paige and her family's career in the wrestling business.

Based on the documentary, the film will be titled "Fighting With My Family."

"Years ago (2012) while shooting Fast & Furious in London, I was up at 3am (too much caffeine) and stumbled upon a documentary on a UK station about a local wrestling family and their daughter's unlikely journey into the global spotlight," Johnson wrote.

"That daughter, is current WWE Women's Superstar, Paige. The family element I saw in the doc, is what grabbed my attention. That no matter how crazy life gets, no matter how dysfunctional our families can sometimes be and especially regardless of how much we fight -- we're always there for each other when it counts. That's what families do."

Stephen Merchant will write and direct the film, with Johnson noting that Merchant grasped how gritty and heartfelt the comedy-drama should be. Johnson also noted that they would be partnering with WWE Studios and Film 4 on the project.

The Hollywood Reporter's story on the film said that Florence Pugh and Jack Lowden have been tapped for starring roles, with Johnson making a cameo as himself in addition to his position as executive producer.

Paige's wrestling career is currently on hold after she underwent neck surgery last year. She was also suspended by WWE twice for wellness policy violations in 2016.

-WWE issued an update on Shinsuke Nakamura's storyline knee injury, noting that there were no tears in Nakamura's knee and that he wouldn't require surgery.

-The custom WWE Championship that WWE sent the New England Patriots after their Super Bowl 51 win was heavily featured during the team's victory parade today. Rob Gronkowski posted a picture with the title before the parade began and it appeared several times on the TV broadcast.

-Sami Zayn spoke to ESPN about wanting to help change how Muslims and Arabs are portrayed in American media.

-Triple H posted a tweet welcoming WWE's newest Chinese recruits to the Performance Center.

-John Cena will be on ESPN Sportscentre on Thursday at 9PM with Jonathan Coachman.

-David Otunga will be on Criminal Minds tomorrow night on CBS.

-At http://www.bardown.com/the-rock-congratulates-rob-gronkowski-on-super-bowl-victory-with-comical-baywatch-promo-1.666669 The Rock congratulated New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski, who is also friends with Mojo Rawley, via a Baywatch promo.

-The WWE continued building to its next two brand-exclusive pay-per-views on Tuesday night by adding matches to both the Fastlane and Elimination Chamber cards.

Jack Gallagher capped off the night on 205 Live by becoming the number one contender for Neville's WWE Cruiserweight Championship. Gallagher defeated TJ Perkins, Mustafa Ali (subbing in for Tony Nese after a qualifier match), Cedric Alexander, and Noam Dar in a fatal five-way elimination match to get the title shot and will challenge Neville at Fastlane.

Earlier in the night on SmackDown, two more matches were added to the Elimination Chamber card as well. It was announced that Randy Orton would be facing Luke Harper at the PPV as part of the ongoing storyline with the Wyatt Family. Dolph Ziggler will also be involved in a handicap match at Elimination Chamber as he takes on both Apollo Crews & Kalisto.

Elimination Chamber and Fastlane are WWE's final two PPVs before WrestleMania 33. Elimination Chamber will take place at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona this coming Sunday, while the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin will host Fastlane on March 5th.

**UPDATES for Feb.8/17**

-Tuesday’s episode of Smackdown averaged 2,627,000 viewers on the USA Network with the show promoted around the first Smackdown singles match between John Cena and Randy Orton. The number was down from last week’s number of 2,817,000 coming out of the Royal Rumble. The number is a slight disappointment as they promoted the Cena vs. Orton match for a full week and they had a good chance of at least equalling last week’s number, if not topping it.

SmackDown was 10th for the night in cable viewership but first in the 18-49 demo, with a 0.91 rating.

It should also be noted that all of the major networks ran original programming against SmackDown as well, with the biggest competition coming from CBS' NCIS and Bull which did 15.6 million and 10.8 million viewers respectively running head-to-head with SmackDown.

-Former WWE announcer and performer Mike Adamle recently spoke to the NBC affiliate in Chicago about why he has been away from his work as a newscaster. Adamle has been diagnosed with dementia and could be suffering from CTE (it is not possible to diagnose CTE while somebody is alive) and believed to be a result of his years of playing football. Adamle stated he is not in any physical pain but deals with problems with memory loss.

-Darren Young has announced that he will be undergoing surgery for his elbow injury. Young stated the surgery will be performed by Dr. Jeffrey Dugas in Birmingham, Alabama and there is no timetable on when Young will be able to return to action.

-Following 205 Live, there was a dark match in Seattle with Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz and Daniel Bryan served as the special guest referee.

-Gran Metalik (the former Mascara Dorada) will make his 205 Live debut next Tuesday in Anaheim, California.

-Robyn Christensen-Roussimoff, the daughter of the late Andre the Giant, was backstage at the Smackdown tapings on Tuesday night in Seattle.

-Sam Roberts will be working on the pre-show panel this Sunday during the Elimination Chamber kickoff show with Renee Young and Booker T.

-The WWE stock closed at $19.28 on Wednesday.

-Lena Headey and Nick Frost have been added to the cast of "Fighting With My Family," the film that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's production company is producing based on Paige and her family.

-Paige and Alberto Del Rio were interviewed by TMZ Sports, with Paige saying that she'd consider trying out MMA when her time with WWE comes to an end.

**UPDATES for Feb.9/17**

-WWE announced its year-end business numbers at a conference call on Thursday morning, as the company finished 2016 with $729.2 million in total revenue at $33.8 million in profits. The numbers were up from the $658.8 million in revenue and $24.1 million in annual profits from last year.

Revenue numbers are the highest in company history. Profits are still well below the pre-Network levels, although most projections are they will be at or ahead of those levels in 2017 due to an increase in TV rights fees and lower tax rates.

Most of the year was actually somewhat even in profits except that last year in the fourth quarter the company lost $1.2 million and this year's fourth quarter profits were $8.0 million. Total revenue in quarter four was $194.9 million, up from $166.2 million in quarter four of 2015.

Wall Street gave a thumbs up to the numbers as the WWE stock at this writing is trading at $20.94 per share, up from $19.28 at its close yesterday.

The key takes are that there were 1,403,000 Network subscribers at the end of December, although that has grown to 1.5 million in January due to the season growth for the Royal Rumble. They did not predict a WrestleMania number but will give a number after the show. Last year they increased 237,000 in subscribers over WrestleMania season. If they do that this year they'll be at 1,640,000 subscriptions the day after WrestleMania.

U.S. subscriber numbers at year-end were 1,033,000, up from 940,000. However, the Network division overall decreased in profitability for the year from $48.4 million to $36.9 million, due to increases in costs of the Network programming and a major decline in PPV.

Virtually all significant profit growth comes from television rights fees. Profits were up on television from $88.0 million in 2015 to $114.8 million in 2016, even though revenue increased by $10.6 million. Some of that is misleading, in the sense that they expense some things to the Network that were formerly expensed to television.

In the main take, Vince McMahon spoke of touring the 205 Live wrestlers with their own house shows, similar to NXT, as well as a European outpost with regular touring, stemming from the U.K. special. He didn't give any timetable as to when this would happen.

The idea of a U.K. or Europe based satellite group is something that has been talked about a lot, but the idea of doing house show tours with the cruiserweights is something that is new. If all groups are running and there are two NXT shows, that would leave the company with as many as six events every Saturday night.

If there was a hidden negative, it's that live event attendance, while up overall due to running more shows, decreased in profitability as well as average attendance.

For the main brand shows, the average paid attendance in quarter four was 5,300, down from 6,300 in the same quarter last year. That doesn't factor in NXT events. The total profits for all fourth quarter shows, including NXT events, fell from $7.3 million to $6.2 million in the fourth quarter.

-Wall Street liked the news since the stock was up to $20.96 per share at its close today, even though profits for the year ended below market expectations.

-Elimination Chamber tickets for Sunday in Phoenix are going strong. It is possible the event could sell out.

-The Miz will be cohosting ESPN Sports Nation on 3/2 and 3/16.

-Alberto Del Rio (El Patron) & Paige joined Busted Open radio and Alberto commented on his time with WWE and why he left and said that their inability to let lucha libre show their style is a big reason why left, he also said “The WWE needed me more than I needed them.

Paige commented on the movie about her family that was announced yesterday being produced by The Rock and the WWE. Alberto discussed how they ended up dating and says Paige should be back in the ring in April or May.

**UPDATES for Feb.11/17**

-The Raw crew is in Anchorage, Alaska on Saturday night with Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns and Chris Jericho advertised. The SmackDown crew begins Saturday in Las Cruces, New Mexico with John Cena on the show. Obviously no Seth Rollins, but the full Raw crew, other than Samoa Joe (not advertised) are scheduled for the first trip to Alaska in three years. John Cena and Randy Orton are both scheduled for the Smackdown tour.

-Raw will be on Monday from Las Vegas. Neither Bill Goldberg nor Brock Lesnar are scheduled for the show. There is also a SmackDown brand house show in Oakland, CA at the Oracle Arena.

Smackdown will be Tuesday from Anaheim, CA.

-Former WWE wrestler Vladimir Kozlov (Oleg Prudius) has a very brief cameo in the new John Wick sequel.

-The WWE has added a singles match between Mojo Rawley and Curt Hawkins for the kickoff portion of Elimination Chamber this Sunday at 7pm Eastern. The storyline between Zack Ryder's current and former tag team partners was set up on Twitter and in a video where Hawkins mocked Rawley's friendship with New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

-Darren Young underwent surgery on Thursday for his injured right elbow and is now recovering. Young had the surgery in Birmingham, Alabama under Dr. Jeffrey Dugas.

-The WWE stock closed at $21.97 on Friday after receiving a nice bump from the earnings report on Thursday.

-Viacom announced this week that Spike TV will be going through a re-branding in early 2018 and will become The Paramount Network. The current incarnation of the network launched in 2003 after previously incarnations as The Nashville Network and later The National Network. Under the Spike branding, the company geared their programming around their centerpiece of Monday Night Raw, which they acquired the rights to and began airing in the fall of 2000 when the program was on fire. It was in 2005 that Spike launched the Ultimate Fighter with Raw serving as their lead in on Monday nights with WWE programming serving as a key reason why TUF took off to the level it did. Viacom was very public announcing in early 2005 they were withdrawing from negotiations with the WWE and led to the promotion striking a less favorable deal with the USA Network and returned to USA in October 2005. Spike TV became the unofficial UFC network during that time with their schedule revolving around UFC from 2005 up until their exit from Spike at the end of 2011. Spike was able to air UFC programming from their library for the following year providing they didn’t air any other MMA programming as they began running Bellator on MTV 2 and in 2012 moved Bellator to Spike with Viacom purchasing a majority stake in the promotion.

-On a list posted at http://www.thescore.com/mma/news/1229421-lesnar-larkin-among-dozens-of-fighters-removed-from-ufc-roster Brock Lesnar was one of many names cut from the UFC roster.

-Dwayne Johnson in step one apparently, is upset with Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank (Johnson has a shoe line with Under Armour) for his public support of Donald Trump, saying Plank's comments were divisive and lacking in perspective. Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson joined basketball player Stephen Curry and professional ballerina Misty Copeland in criticizing Kevin Plank, the CEO of sports apparel company Under Armour for praising President Donald Trump. After Plank called Trump "an asset to the country" during an interview with CNBC, Johnson sent out a statement on social media calling Plank's words "divisive and lacking in perspective."

-Even though they are doing a knee injury angle on television, NXT "rules" are that injuries don't count except on the TV show, so Shinsuke Nakamura headlined Thursday night in Upper Darby, PA and headlined Friday night in Asbury Park and Saturday night in Albany.

-Some feel the smart money is already in for Sunday's Elimination Chamber.

Randy Orton is at -4500 (45-to-1) favorite over Luke Harper
American Alpha is at -4500 to win the Tag Team Turmoil
Dolph Ziggler is an underdog in the handicap match but odds are short
Naomi's odds are dropping and it's now just about even odds with Alexa Bliss after Bliss was a heavy favorite
Natalya's odds are dropping greatly but Nikki Bella is still a favorite
Becky Lynch was also a significant underdog but the odds are closing to almost even in her match with Mickie James
Bray Wyatt is at -1350 to win the Chamber match

-Natalya will be doing a regular column in the Calgary Sun. Her ex-uncle Bret for years had a column in the newspaper. In fact, the current back issue of the Observer has, in hindsight, perhaps the most important one he ever wrote.

-Mick Foley will be writing a Christmas book called "Saint Mick" this year for release during the Christmas season.

-Chavo Guerrero Sr., the father of Chavo Jr. and brother to Hector, Mando and the late Eddie, has passed away.

The news was announced by his son on Saturday morning with Chavo Jr. stating that his father was diagnosed with liver cancer last month.

Guerrero was one of the pioneers for junior heavyweights in the industry and working a style that audiences in the United States rarely saw.

Guerrero was probably best remembered for his run in California and the feud with Roddy Piper in the 70s. The promos by Piper were heavily racist in tone and drew significant heat from the Latino audience that Guerrero represented.

For modern fans, they would remember Guerrero from his 2004 run in the WWE as “Chavo Classic” for angle with Eddie and Chavo Jr. Chavo Sr. appeared on Smackdown to try and smooth things over between Eddie and Chavo after they had split as a tag team and then Sr. turned on his brother and aligned with his son. Chavo Sr. became a very entertaining act and even started wrestling for the company and won the Cruiserweight title in May of 2004 and held it for a month before dropping it to Rey Mysterio.

Guerrero Sr. recently appeared during Season 3 of Lucha Underground in a similar angle to the one done in 2004. Rey Mysterio was getting ready for a “Loser Leaves Lucha Match” with Chavo Jr. and Chavo Sr. tried to play peacemaker and then turned on Mysterio during the match but Mysterio still ended up winning as a way to write Chavo Jr. off the show.

Guerrero was 68 years old.

The WWE acknowledged Chavo Guerrero Sr.'s death with an article on their website. Triple H also posted a tweet about Guerrero Sr.:

"Chavo Sr. was one of a kind. He did things his own way & entertained fans for 20+ years. My thoughts are with the entire Guerrero family."

John Darnielle, the frontman of The Mountain Goats, posted some thoughts on Twitter about the death of Chavo Guerrero Sr. Darnielle wrote:

"Chavo Guerrero, Sr. has died. Champ, when we met, you were gracious, kind, open, & giving. It has been an honor over the past few years, to be in touch with you -- to hear from you at holidays, to see what a true champion you were in life. I will miss you so so much."

The Mountain Goats released the song "The Legend of Chavo Guerrero" in 2015 as part of their pro wrestling-based concept album "Beat the Champ."

-Madison Square Garden's website is now advertising that AJ Styles and Shane McMahon will be making "special appearances" at WWE's house show at the arena next month. Brock Lesnar vs. Kevin Owens is also scheduled for that show.

-HoHo Lun welcomed the WWE's newest Chinese signees to Orlando as they started at the Performance Center.

-Shinsuke Nakamura teamed with Kassius Ohno against Bobby Roode & Andrade "Cien" Almas in the main event of last night's NXT house show in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

**UPDATES for Feb.12/17**

-Here are the odds going into the PPV from betting sites: Apollo Crews & Kalisto are -1545 favorites. Becky Lynch is the -2045 favorite. Nikki Bella is a -350 favorite. American Alpha's Jordan & Gable are -5100 favorites. Naomi is a -5075 favorite to get her hand raised. Randy Orton is a -4500 favorite. Bray Wyatt is a -8500 favorite. Basically this is the only result that if Vince McMahon changes it, he has to revamp WrestleMania main event plans as well. All the other results don't matter at all in the big picture.

-Bill Goldberg has been added to both the 2/27 and 3/6 Raw shows. He would be expected on 2/27 since that's the Fast Lane go-home show and he's headlining that card. The 3/6 show is the day after, the first show with the hard push for Mania, and he and Brock Lesnar are the key match on that show.

-Pro Wrestling Sheet reported Tessa Blanchard and Thea Trinidad have roles in the movie "Fighting with My Family," put on by Dwayne Johnson's Seven Bucks Entertainment, about Paige. The movie is currently filming in Los Angeles.

-The T-shrits Baron Corbin wears on television are from the husband of Rosa Mendes' company.

-The final episode of Legends with JBL, an interview with Jimmy Hart, will be airing on Tuesday on the WWE Network.

-A teaser for Raw tomorrow night plugged a "Festival of Friendship" with Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens on the kickoff show.

All of the Elimination Chamber card will be filled this week, so don't 'cha dare miss it!
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Posted 2/13/17 , edited 2/19/17
Tonight Raw from Las Vegas kicks off the week with a Women's Championship match between Charlotte Flair and Bayley, and the Festival of Friendship with US Champion Chris Jericho and Universal Champion Kevin Owens! Check out the build towards Fastlane, Wrestlemania and more in the news.

General sources are as normally credited to http://www.f4wonline.com/ and http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/news.html and http://fightnetwork.com/ and http://www.411mania.com/wrestling and http://www.pwi-online.com and http://www.thescore.com/trending while please also note that all news and rumours are subject to updates and changes.

Raw Presents WWE Fastlane on Sunday, March 5 from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/wwefastlane and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fastlane_(2017)

UPDATED CARD:

*WWE Universal Championship Match: Kevin Owens (C - w/ Chris Jericho) vs. Goldberg
*Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
*Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville (C) vs. Jack Gallagher

Wrestlemania 33 on Sunday, April 2 from Orlando, Florida

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/wrestlemania and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WrestleMania_33

UPDATED CARD:

*Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. Goldberg
*WWE Championship Match: Bray Wyatt (C) vs. The Winner of a Battle Royale on SmackDown

**WWE Hall of Fame Class Presentation (Ceremony on April 1): Kurt Angle (Presenter TBA), The Rock 'n' Roll Express of Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson (Presenter TBA), Teddy Long (Presenter TBA)

-They are promoting the return of Emmalina but you know how that joke has gone so far so don't hold your breath on it.

-The Smackdown crew has a live event in Oakland tonight with all the major stars advertised, including John Cena and Randy Orton.

-A feature length documentary on the late Andre the Giant (Andre Rousimoff) is set to be produced by Bill Simmons, HBO Sports and the WWE. The announcement was made today but no production schedule or release date was announced. Simmons launched the very popular “30 for 30” documentary series during his time at ESPN and was a huge wrestling fan at one point. The fact that the WWE is involved is another big coup for the company coming just a week after the announcement of WWE Studios working with Seven Bucks Productions and Dwayne Johnson to produce a movie on the family of Paige. The involvement of the WWE will make all the key people available to appear in the documentary but will no doubt lead to many tall tales, which any story on Andre becomes tough as there are so many tales out there and he is treated within wrestling as a mythological character. Andre first gained notoriety in Montreal and was promoted by Frank Valois and later Vince McMahon Sr., where Andre was sent to various territories and became a prototype of how to properly book a giant with frequent appearances and not being overexposed in a territory for too long. His most high-profile run came during the late 80’s when his body was breaking down and the WWF turned him heel for the WrestleMania 3 program with Hulk Hogan. The rematch set a cable record for pro wrestling in North America in 1988 with over 33 million people tuning into NBC. The rematch featured Andre winning the WWF title after the reveal of Dave Hebner’s evil twin brother Earl to make the fast count and end Hogan’s four-year title reign. This angle led to the title being vacated and setting up the tournament for WrestleMania 4 in March 1988.

-The WWE has added Teddy Long to this year’s list of Hall of Fame inductees and joins Kurt Angle and The Rock ‘n Roll Express. Long began attending matches in the 80’s alongside his son and then ended up working at shows by carrying robes to the back and any task that was thrown at him. This opened the door for Long to become a referee and ended up being one of the mainstay officials for Jim Crockett Promotions during the 80’s and later became a manager. He managed numerous acts in WCW with the most synonymous group that Long was associated with being Doom (Ron Simmons and Butch Reed). Long then went through a similar cycle in the WWE as he began as a referee in 1998 and eventually was put back as a manager for the likes of Rodney Mack, Mark Henry, Jazz and others and was always a very gifted speaker with memorable quotes like “Holla If Ya Hear Me” and “Homey Don’t Play That”. In 2004, Long became the Smackdown General Manager and ended up holding an authority figure position for the majority of the next nine years. Long would serve as GM of Smackdown and ECW during this time period and then returned to Smackdown as the GM in 2009. Long was eventually written off in 2013 and released by the company the following year. Over the years, it has become the joke to everyone that Long would always interrupt a segment to make an impromptu tag match.

The WWE chose Fox Sports to break the news, with an article also appearing on their own website.

"Well, I was really surprised, you know? I had thought about being inducted into the Hall of Fame and I thought ‘well, if they’re going to do that, I’m pretty sure my time will come one day.’ And that’s what did happen," Long told Fox Sports. "I was real excited, it’s such an honor to be a part of something like this. To go into the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame...man, it’s just great. It don’t get no better than that."

-The WWE is advertising Bill Goldberg for the February 27th episode of Raw in Green Bay (the final Raw before Fast Lane) and the March 6th episode in Chicago at the Allstate Arena.

-Rosa Mendes (Milena Roucka) announced her retirement today and comes one year after giving birth to her first child. Roucka was signed by the WWE in 2006 after she participated in that year’s Diva Search contest and has been with the company ever since. She was last seen on television in 2015 and had been managing Fandango and then the two broke up on television.

-This year the Money in the Bank event will be a Smackdown-only show and takes place on Sunday June 18th from St. Louis, Missouri. Tickets for the show go on sale this Friday at the Scottrade Center.

-The WWE stock closed at $22.66 on Monday and is riding a wave of momentum from last week’s year-end earnings report.

-Linda McMahon's Senate confirmation, which is expected to be a basic rubber stamp approval as there is no major opposition to her in the role as head of the Small Business Administration, is set for tomorrow morning.

-Contenders Clothing, a men's active lifestyle apparel company, has partnered with WWE to co-brand WWE boxer briefs called the WWE Contenders Collection. There will be adult and youth boxer briefs of John Cena, Roman Reigns, AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Randy Savage, Ric Flair and Steve Austin. They will be available for order on 2/21.

-After years of staying out of the state for TVs and PPVs (they have run house shows) due to issues with the commission and its rule about stopping matches if there is blood, after the state changed the law, WWE has announced a Smackdown TV taping on 4/18 at the Yum Center in Louisville.

-The WWE network announced a New Day "Feel the Positivity" collection that is being released.

-UFC sent out a release stating that UFC 205 on 11/12 in Madison Square Garden had $37.4 million in economic impact for the area. That's significant, although for a comparison to WrestleMania, that show has been topping $100 million in economic impact.

-The New York Post has a long article about the death of Chyna.

-Washington Nationals player Bryce Harper was shown in the crowd at Raw.

-Gillberg made an appearance for the Festival of Friendship.

**UPDATES for Feb.14/17**

-Monday’s episode of Raw averaged approximately 3,070,000 viewers on the USA Network with the show built around the women’s title match as Bayley defeated Charlotte to win the title. The number was down by a small margin from last week’s show that did 3,115,000 with Bill Goldberg on the show.

The first show had 3.20 million viewers and then dropped to 3.15 in the second hour and 2.91 million in the third. On the surface, it is a downward pattern but they did retain a higher amount of viewers for the final hour than last week did.

The last time the women’s title match was promoted all show long was back in November when Sasha Banks defeated Charlotte. The November show averaged 3,107,000 with the final hour doing 3.04 million viewers but that was up against a Monday Night Football game with over 13 million viewers.

Brock Lesnar is scheduled for all the remaining Raw episodes from now until WrestleMania with Bill Goldberg next scheduled for the February 27th show in Green Bay prior to Fast Lane.

It was the least-watched Monday Raw that didn't go up against a major sports event or fall on a major holiday, dating back to 1997.

Raw was third for the night on cable, trailing only the O'Reilly Factor (4.18 million viewers) and Tucker Carlson Tonight (3.47 million viewers), the best placing Raw has had on cable of late.

-Cruiserweight Champion Neville takes on TJ Perkins on 205 Live. Gran Metalik is scheduled to make his 205 Live debut tonight as well.

-Shawn Michaels met the Pittsburgh Penguins' HBK line on Monday.

-A report at http://www.thescore.com/mma/news/1211787-report-brock-lesnar-retires-from-mma says Brock Lesnar, after being released by the UFC recently, has retired from MMA.

While nobody has said anything publicly, Marc Raimondi of MMA Fighting reported today that Brock Lesnar told the UFC that he was retiring from mixed martial arts.

The story used Ryan Madden of USADA as a source in saying that Lesnar voluntarily removed himself from the UFC's drug testing program. Lesnar's name was quietly removed last week from the UFC's active roster.

Lesnar, 39, is currently under both a Nevada and USADA suspension after testing positive for Clomiphene. By being active, he was open to continual drug tests by USADA, even while suspended. Two suspended fighters in recent weeks were tested and failed tests once again.

What this means is that if Lesnar was to change his mind, he would have to sign with the company, and then be open for a minimum of four months of drug testing before he would be allowed to fight.

The fact Lesnar remained open to drug testing until recently seemed to indicate an interest in fighting. But this move, as he goes into his most active run as a pro wrestler since his return five years ago, indicates he's no longer interested in fighting after his suspension ends in July.

Lesnar defeated Mark Hunt via decision at UFC 200, but the result was overturned to a no contest because Lesnar had failed two drug tests, one before the fight and one the night of the fight.

-After Bray Wyatt's WWE Championship win at Elimination Chamber, the only thing that stood in the way of the official announcement of his WrestleMania match against Randy Orton was clearing up some loose ends on television.

One of those will be cleared on Tuesday night as Wyatt defends the WWE Championship against John Cena on SmackDown. The match was announced on Monday night during commercials that aired on Raw and by WWE on Twitter.

Wyatt won the title from Cena in an Elimination Chamber match in the main event of Sunday's pay-per-view after eliminating both Cena and AJ Styles at the end of the match.

Though there are still seven episodes of SmackDown before WrestleMania, the build to WWE's biggest show of the year should pick up steam on Tuesday night now that Elimination Chamber is out of the way.

Cena's direction for WrestleMania should become apparent in the coming weeks, with WWE seemingly already starting the early build to the Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse mixed tag team match that Dave Meltzer has reported on in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

Mickie James will also face Becky Lynch in a rematch from Elimination Chamber on tonight's show.

-In what was a formality given how the process had gone up until this point, Linda McMahon was confirmed as administrator of President Donald Trump's Small Business Administration on Tuesday morning.

The United States Senate voted on McMahon's nomination and confirmed her by a vote of 81-19. She was previously approved out of the Senate's Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee by an 18-1 vote.

McMahon received a healthy amount of bipartisan support, though all 19 of the votes cast against her came from the left. Independent Vermont Senator and former Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders joined 18 Democrats in opposing her nomination.

In the committee hearing that took place last month, McMahon largely faced cordial questions about her view of the role of the SBA and how she would work with members of the Senate in her position. WWE's business practices were only brought up briefly, with recently elected Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth noting that she discussed her concerns with McMahon when meeting with her.

McMahon was chosen to lead the SBA by then President-elect Trump last December. The McMahon family have been longtime friends and occasional business associates of Trump, including donating $7 million to political action committees supporting his presidential campaign.

-The Emmalina gimmick is reportedly done. According to Pro Wrestling Sheet, last night’s segment in which Emma appeared and that she was now undergoing “the makeover from Emmalina to Emma” was due to the fact that producers realised after several rehearsals that the gimmick just wasn’t working.

The site reports that the point of the character was to be a throwback to the likes of Sable and The Kat but officials felt like Emma wasn’t committing enough and have no just decided to let her be evil again. Producers are still big fans of the character though and may hold onto it for another female wrestler in the future.

-Bobby Roode vs. Kassius Ohno for the NXT title is being advertised for next week's NXT TV tapings at the University of Central Florida. Shinsuke Nakamura returns to TV on that show as well.

-Vince Vaughn has been tapped for a role in "Fighting with my Family," the film that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's production company is producing about Paige and her family. Vaughn will play an "80's wrestling star who squandered his money and opportunities because he didn't have the capacity to handle his fame."

-The WWE announced Braun Strowman vs. Big Show for next week's Raw.

-Kelly Kelly was backstage at Raw, with WWE posting a video on their YouTube channel teasing her making an appearance at WrestleMania.

-Heath Slater and The Ascension's rental car was broken into during WWE's trip to Oakland for a house show on Monday.

-Bray Wyatt got the custom plates for his WWE Championship. Troy University also has an article on Wyatt becoming WWE Champion.

-On Talking Smack and posted at http://www.wwe.com/shows/smackdown/article/battle-royal-will-determine-no-1-contender-to-wwe-championship?sf56349543=1&utm_source=t.co&utm_medium=referral the following news has come out:

"Following the proclamation by 2017 Royal Rumble winner Randy Orton that he refuses to battle WWE Champion Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania, SmackDown LIVE General Manager Daniel Bryan journeyed to WWE Talking Smack with a blockbuster solution for the void he created.

Next week, SmackDown LIVE will feature a No. 1 Contenders’ Battle Royal. The winner of that colossal contest will challenge The New Face of Fear on The Grandest Stage of Them All."

**UPDATES for Feb.15/17**

-Nikki Bella and Natalya will have a Falls Count Anywhere match next week on SmackDown Live.

-Kelly Kelly (Barbie Blank) was backstage at Raw in Las Vegas on Monday night and hinted she might one day return to WWE.

-On Tuesday, McMahon and her entire family were present at The White House and posed for a photo with the President. Vince, Shane, Linda, Stephanie, Paul Levesque and all of their children were present in the photo. They also had a photo of Vince McMahon’s head being shaved by Trump at WrestleMania 23 in April 2007 at Ford Field.

The entire immediate McMahon family visited Washington, DC yesterday as Linda McMahon was confirmed and sworn in as the new administrator of the Small Business Administration, which produced what will become a memorable photo in the Oval Office with President Donald Trump. As has been noted, nearly half of the people in the picture, including the President of the United States, have been recipients of at least one stunner from Steve Austin.

-Tuesday’s episode of Smackdown did 2,626,000 viewers on the USA Network and was virtually identical to last week’s number of 2,627,000. As has been the case with episodes following brand-specific pay-per-views since the roster split, there was no PPV "bounce back" this week following Sunday's Elimination Chamber show.

SmackDown finished eighth for the night on cable in total viewership, and was down to second this week in the 18-49 demo after finishing in first the last few weeks.

The show was headlined by a triple threat WWE Championship match with Bray Wyatt defending against former champs John Cena and AJ Styles, which Wyatt won to retain his title. That main event had been advertised as a singles match between Wyatt and Cena going into the night.

SmackDown retained 85 percent of the Raw audience from the previous night for the second week in a row, which is slightly higher than usual since the brand split.

-The newest update for the WWE app enables users to now watch content on the WWE Network through Chromecast, which had been a frequent question ever since the network launched.

-AJ Lee (April Mendez Brooks) will be releasing a book about her life and career this coming April. The book is called “Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules” and will detail her time in the WWE and struggles she went through while in the company and the character she crafted while in the company. It will be interesting to see how much insight she provides to her husband’s decision to leave the WWE in January 2014 while she remained with the company for over a year after he departed. The book comes out April 4th.

-The WWE stock closed on Wednesday at $22.62.

-The WWE also began to set up tension between AJ Styles and Shane McMahon with Styles complaining that he didn't get a one-on-one rematch for the title and Daniel Bryan not taking responsibility for the decision.

-The WWE is publishing an official rule book.

-A new WWE.com video series premieres tomorrow. The show is called "My Son is a WWE Superstar," and the first episode features Finn Balor and his parents.

-The Tampa Bay Times has an article featuring wrestlers from the area sharing Andre the Giant stories following the announcement that HBO would be partnering with WWE to make a documentary about Andre's life.

**UPDATES for Feb.16-17/17**

-WWF Legend George Steele (Jim Myers) is in poor health right now and is currently in hospice care.

UPDATE: George "The Animal" Steele passed away at age 79. A piece on his life can be found at http://slam.canoe.com/Slam/Wrestling/2017/02/17/22704839.html Steele is a character that was widely recognized beyond just professional wrestling and spanning a pair of generations. He was a strong heel throughout the 70’s for the WWWF but it was as the loveable cartoon version of the mid 80’s that many remember because of the exposure the WWF had. One of the reasons he connected to such a degree is because of the visual performance he provided. The mixture of the hairy back and chest, green tongue and biting of the turnbuckle pads made him easily identifiable and a staple of the WWF’s expansion period and boom throughout the 80’s through Saturday Night’s Main Event and his famous feud with Randy Savage.

-According to Pro Wrestling Sheet, the movie "Fighting with my Family" will be shooting wrestling scenes on Monday night at the Staples Center, likely before or after Raw.

-Nicole Bass, who was a well-known female bodybuilder who later went into pro wrestling passed away today at the age of 52.

Bass suffered a massive stroke earlier in the week and never recovered. Her Facebook page noted that that she got very sick a few days ago and they did everything they could to help her in the hospital but there was no more they could do.

Bass was a giant muscular woman, 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, and was controversial in bodybuilding circles because of her size. Although bigger and more muscular than any other woman of her era, she never won a major contest until a few years after her start of competition. By 1995, she was starting to place highly in contests and eventually won the NPC nationals.

Her being the butt of jokes about really being a man led her to be regularly featured on the Howard Stern show and she had achieved a measure of cult celebrity status before pro wrestling.

After Chyna became a star in the WWF, other organizations tried to copy her success by hiring woman bodybuilders. Paul Heyman hired her for ECW on the guise they had someone much larger and more muscular than Chyna.

Bass was actually bigger than most of the men in the promotion and more muscular than any of them, but was put in the ring with limited training and she never picked up the in-ring. Still, she was hired by WWF in 1999, a bad decision because she was much bigger than Chyna and it worked against the Chyna gimmick.

Bass never got the wrestling end down and her stay in WWF was short before she was let go. She later sued WWE claiming sexual harassment, a case that went to court but she lost.

She had battled health problems for the past decade.

-Bryce Harper got into some heat with the media after donning a NFL Dallas Cowboys cap at this week's Raw show in his hometown of Las Vegas as he plays baseball for the Washington Nationals.

-The WWE is missing a lot of talent on this weekend’s house shows. The Raw crew begins tonight with a card in Dallas, Texas at the American Airlines Center and will feature Brock Lesnar against Big Show in the main event. Both Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho are not being advertised for this weekend’s shows.

The SmackDown crew starts Saturday with a show in Edmonton, Alberta with AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler advertised. John Cena, Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt are not being advertised on the WWE website for any of the SmackDown shows on Saturday or Sunday but all three are listed for the Monday night house show in San Diego.

Raw will be Monday in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. Brock Lesnar is scheduled for the show and Big Show vs. Braun Strowman is the only match announced.

Smackdown and 205 Live will be taped on Tuesday in Ontario, CA. Announced for the show is a Battle Royal for the WrestleMania title shot, which is some sort of an angle situation, Nikki Bella vs. Natalya falls count anywhere and Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss for the women's title.

-The WWE stock closed at $22.14 on Friday.

**UPDATES for Feb.18-19/17**

-Oreal Perras, who wrestled for over 30 years as Ivan Koloff, has died.

It had come out recently that Koloff was in bad shape after being diagnosed with liver cancer a decade ago. The cancer had taken a larger toll on Koloff over the past few months to the point that he could barely get around.

Born in Canada, Koloff would begin wrestling in 1961 as Red McNulty and it was when he worked in Montreal that he was given the name that he would wrestle under for the majority of his career.

It was in the WWWF that Koloff was part of one of the most famous matches of any generation. Om January 18th 1971, Koloff was the man to finally pin Bruno Sammartino inside Madison Square Garden and end Sammartino’s eight-year title reign. Sammartino has often described the moment in various interviews that he felt he lost his hearing because it was silent. It is a type of reaction that will probably never be duplicated with the closest comparison for a modern fan being the night Brock Lesnar ended The Undertaker’s streak at WrestleMania in 2014.

Koloff would only keep the title for three-weeks as a transitional heel champion and serve as the bridge between Sammartino and Pedro Morales. They didn’t do any rematches between Sammartino and Koloff until years later during Sammartino’s second title reign.

He would travel to many different territories and was in featured positions for the AWA and Mid-South.

Koloff was also well remembered for his role as the leader of The Russians unit with Nikita Koloff and Krusher Khruschev. The three-man team were a staple of Jim Crockett Promotions from 1984-1986 and Koloff remained with the promotion until early 1989.

Koloff continued to work into the 90’s but it was sporadic with appearances and matches for Eastern Championship Wrestling and Smokey Mountain Wrestling among them.

He had written a book a number of years back and went into detail about his struggles with drugs and alcohol that led him to becoming a born again Christian. Oreal Parris was 74 years old at the time of his passing on Saturday. More on his story can be read on a piece at http://slam.canoe.com/Slam/Wrestling/2017/02/18/22705083.html

-A study at http://www.f4wonline.com/wwe-news/looking-effects-brand-exclusive-ppvs-wwe-ratings-230246 takes a look at the effects of the brand exclusive WWE PPVs to TV ratings.

-The WWE acknowledged the deaths of George "The Animal" Steele and Ivan Koloff with articles on their website. The New York Times also posted an article on Steele passing away, and Mike Mooneyham wrote about Steele and Koloff for the Charleston Post and Courier.

-Nickelodeon released a commercial for the Kids' Choice Awards that features John Cena. Cena will host the event on March 11th.

-Baron Corbin was interviewed by the Phoenix New Times. He spoke about not paying attention to the audience's reaction to him:

"No, because I don't really care. And that's why I'm good at what I do, that's why I'm good at my job, that's why I'm successful. I've never really cared what people think of how I'm doing or what I'm doing. If they have a problem with it, they can either change their mind or they can tell me how they feel, but it's just falling on deaf ears. And that's what's funny right now, too, is all these people who hated me and then I go out there and I think we steal the show at TLC [with Kalisto] and now people are like, 'Oh wait, Baron Corbin's good.' I don't want them to change their opinion because someone else did. All those people who are negative can stay that way. It doesn't fill my pockets more with their respect. Their respect doesn't pay my bills. So I'm just going to continue to go out there and do what I do every single night."

-Samoa Joe made his house show debut as a full-time member of the main roster against Sami Zayn Friday night. The show took place in Dallas, Texas and also featured Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman in the main event with Kevin Owens not on the card.

-The WWE posted video of Brock Lesnar wreaking havoc on a lower card tag match on the house show before facing Big Show.

-Billie Kay spoke to the Miami Herald about her friendship with Peyton Royce and her road to the WWE.

-Thea Trinidad is playing AJ Lee in "Fighting with my Family."

-David Benoit was at the WWE Smackdown house show in Edmonton on Saturday.

-Tamina Snuka was back with WWE Saturday night on the SmackDown brand. She worked as a face teaming with Natalya, who, because they were in Edmonton, also worked as a face.

-For the weekend searches, Bellator was No. 11 yesterday with 50,000, Ivan Koloff was No. 13 yesterday with 50,000, while George Steele was No. 3 on Friday with 200,000 and Nicole Bass was No. 8 on Thursday with 100,000.

-There is a Goldust tribute drag racing car.

Show your love this week for the WWE and come back to check for news from it, so don't 'cha dare miss it!
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Posted 2/20/17 , edited 2/26/17
Raw is in Los Angeles at the Staples Center, where Brock Lesnar is scheduled for the show and Big Show vs. Braun Strowman is the only match announced. The Rock as noted is on site to film for his new movie as well. The news of the week coming off a long weekend comes next.

General sources are as normally credited to http://www.f4wonline.com/ and http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/news.html and http://fightnetwork.com/ and http://www.411mania.com/wrestling and http://www.pwi-online.com and http://www.thescore.com/trending while please also note that all news and rumours are subject to updates and changes.

Raw Presents WWE Fastlane on Sunday, March 5 from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/wwefastlane and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fastlane_(2017)

UPDATED CARD:

*WWE Universal Championship Match: Kevin Owens (C - w/ Chris Jericho) vs. Goldberg
*Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
*Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville (C) vs. Jack Gallagher
*Tag Team Championship Match: The Club (C-Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows) vs. Enzo & Cass
*Women's Championship Match: Bayley (C) vs. Charlotte Flair

NXT TakeOver: Orlando on Saturday, April 1 from Orlando, Florida

Additional Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NXT_TakeOver:_Orlando and http://www.wwe.com/shows/wwenxt

*Women's Championship Match: Asuka (C) vs. Ember Moon
*Triple Threat Elimination Tag Team Match for the Tag Team Championship: The Authors of Pain (C-Akam & Rezar w/ Paul Ellering) vs. The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) vs. #DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa)

Wrestlemania 33 on Sunday, April 2 from Orlando, Florida

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/wrestlemania and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WrestleMania_33

UPDATED CARD:

Hosted by The New Day (Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston & Big E)

*Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. Goldberg
*WWE Championship Match: Bray Wyatt (C) vs. The Winner of a Battle Royale on SmackDown

**WWE Hall of Fame Class Presentation (Ceremony on April 1): Kurt Angle (Presenter TBA), The Rock 'n' Roll Express of Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson (Presenter TBA), Teddy Long (Presenter TBA), Diamond Dallas Page (Presenter TBA)

-Finn Balor is on the ads for live events in March, like March 10 in Buffalo, and March 11 in Toronto.

-This Monday brought another addition to the WWE Hall of Fame with the announcement that Diamond Dallas Page would be part of its 2017 class.

Rolling Stone was given the news by WWE and conducted an interview with Page. He is the fifth officially confirmed member of this year's class, joining Kurt Angle, Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson of the Rock 'n' Roll Express, and Teddy Long.

In the interview with Rolling Stone, Page said he got the call from WWE telling him that he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame all the way back in October.

"They handed me the phone and said, 'Boss wants to talk to you,'" Page said about finding out the news. "It's HHH. I called him a couple weeks earlier and he hadn't gotten back to me yet, so I thought this was that return call. So we're talking about casual stuff, and then I start to hear him talk about my career and where I've been and how I got here, and then it hits me -- is this that call? I'm not a guy who has trouble talking, but I couldn't talk. Tears are running down the sides of my cheeks and I just said, 'Bro, I love you man.'"

DDP is best known to wrestling audiences for his run as one of the bigger stars in WCW in the late 90s through the closure of the promotion. He also had a brief stay in WWE after WCW went out of business, though he failed to reach the heights that he did during his WCW tenure.

Page didn't find wrestling stardom until fairly late in his life and has since worked with wrestlers like Jake Roberts and Scott Hall on their physical health and substance abuse issues after developing his DDP Yoga program.

-Besides the live Raw tonight, there will also be scenes shot for the movie "Fighting with My Family" at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

They'll be shooting the in-ring wrestling scenes with the lead characters.

The movie is based on the Bevis family in England, which includes father, wrestler and promoter Ricky Knight, mother Sweet Saraya Knight, as well as Paige and her brothers. The movie, a comedy, likely builds to Paige, played by Florence Pugh, going after the Divas champion, who is played by former TNA wrestler Thea Trinidad. While no one knows this, it would make sense that scenes for a match between them would be shot tonight. If this is part of the filming, and it probably is, they are doing a Thea Trinidad vs. Tessa Blanchard match tonight. Trinidad has a role in the movie and Blanchard is the stunt double for Florence Pugh, who plays Paige in the movie.

Dwayne Johnson is hands on with the making of the movie and will be at the Staples Center. It would make it very easy for him to appear on Raw although it has not been confirmed that he will be.

Johnson tweeted that they would be filming Pugh's "big scene" after Raw goes off the air. He said said he would be coming out before the crowd at 4:45 p.m., which means 15 minutes before Raw starts that may indicate only being live for the fans in attendance.

-No word on Chris Jericho, who was advertised to return tonight and is also advertised for the Germany tour.

-Given their status as one of the most prominent acts in WWE, it figured that The New Day would be playing a featured role at this year's WrestleMania.

That role was announced on Monday as Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods revealed on TMZ that they would be hosting WrestleMania 33. The news puts into doubt whether the trio will be wrestling on the show.

Hosting duties have previously been handled by Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 30 and The Rock at WrestleMania 27.

Since dropping the Raw Tag Team Championship after the completion of their record-breaking reign and falling out of the title picture, The New Day have taken a bit of a step back on television. All three members were entrants in the Royal Rumble and have been involved in a storyline with Titus O'Neil.

Big E, Kingston, and Woods teamed against Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, and Rusev at last year's WrestleMania, which led to a segment with Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, and Mick Foley after the match.

WrestleMania 33 takes place at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida on April 2nd.

-Smackdown and 205 Live will be taped on Tuesday in Ontario, CA. Announced for the show is a Battle Royal for the WrestleMania title shot, which is some sort of an angle situation, Nikki Bella vs. Natalya falls count anywhere and Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss for the women's title.

NXT will be taped at the University of Central Florida Gym on Wednesday night. This will be all of the shows leading into WrestleMania, so we should have the full Takeover card on Wednesday night.

The Raw crew leaves right after the show for Dusseldorf, Germany for a four-show tour that starts on Wednesday. There will be a Raw house show on Wednesday night from Dusseldorf, Germany.

-Pete Dunne pulled out of the Preston City Wrestling shows on 2/25 and 2/26. He claimed it was due to "insensitive comments from the promoter." There was controversy with the promoter's arguing with fans who complained to him that this weekend's shows, the Kris Travis tournament isn't a benefit show for Travis, a popular and talented wrestler who died of cancer. Preston City did a benefit show for Travis in 2015. A few weeks ago, after the comments were made, Dunne said he'd donate his purse to a local cancer charity. He pulled out today but said he would still donate money to the charity. He also said that he was supposed to face Pentagon Jr. on the Saturday show in the first round of the tournament, but would now face him for Revolution Pro in Portsmouth on Friday night. Given this was to be taped for DVD release, I'm not sure how he'd have been able to be in the tournament in the first place but he claimed this had nothing to do with WWE pulling him. There were people who had expected him to pull out since the tournament was being taped for DVD release.

-It is official that the Payback PPV will take place on 4/30 in San Jose at the SAP Center. Tickets will go on sale Friday. This will be a Raw PPV.

-Best wishes to Charles Robinson, who underwent surgery on Friday for the foot that he injured in the John Cena vs. AJ Styles match at the Rumble. He's expected back for WrestleMania.

-Starting after WrestleMania, ProSieben MAXX in Germany will start airing Raw on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. and Smackdown on Thursday night at 10 p.m. It had been airing on Thursday nights and Friday nights.

Carsten Schaefer, who has been the WWE's German TV announcer for almost 30 years, will be stepping down as host of the German language version of Raw. He will continue to work with Calvin Knie and Tim Haber on the big four PPV broadcasts.

-The WWE will have a Smackdown live event on 10/21 in Santiago, Chile, so they will probably be doing a few shows in South America in late October.

-Armando Montalvo, the obsessed Lita fan who was shot in front of the Performance Center by police after he kept banging on the glass door and came at officers threatening, was denied bail. In court, he tried to claim he was the victim because he was shot. Montalvo's father noted that he was mentally ill and without medication, tends to have outbursts. He was arrested again last month outside a bar, and charged with battery. He took a vacuum hose and put one end in his pants and the other up a woman's skirt, and was arrested and held with no bond. The judge ruled he had to stay in jail until his trial.

-Brian Pillman Jr. is beginning a career in pro wrestling.

-As posted at http://www.f4wonline.com/wwe-news/video-rock-attempts-call-cm-punk-after-raw-230486 with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson at Raw for the filming of scenes for "Fighting with My Family," there was naturally speculation that Johnson would make a surprise appearance on television.

That didn't happen, but Johnson did appear twice in front of the live crowd at the Staples Center. He got on the mic before Raw went on the air, with Vince McMahon even leading him off stage at the end of the segment.

Johnson came back after the conclusion of the show and before the filming of a scene where Paige (played by Florence Pugh and with Tessa Blanchard as a stunt double) wins the Divas Championship for the movie based on Paige and her family's life that Johnson's production company has partnered with WWE Studios and others on.

The presence of the fictional AJ Lee (played by Thea Trinidad) for the scene inspired the Los Angeles audience to chant for CM Punk, which led to Johnson attempting to call Punk. The two ultimately weren't able to find a connection, but Punk did tweet a thank you to the crowd after Johnson left a voicemail.

Punk also offered the explanation that it was his dog's birthday for why he didn't answer the call.

**UPDATES for Feb.22/17**

-Naomi was forced to relinquish the SmackDown Women's Championship on Tuesday night, and the brand already has a new champion.

While equating the situation to when he had to give up the WWE Championship, Daniel Bryan claimed in SmackDown's opening segment that Naomi wouldn't be able to defend the title within 30 days due to an injury and asked her to vacate it.

Naomi suffered a knee injury at Elimination Chamber while doing a split-legged moonsault at the finish of her title win against Alexa Bliss, but Dave Meltzer reports that the injury is not believed to be that serious. She wouldn't have been able to wrestle this week but it is considered a minor injury by wrestling standards.

Naomi eventually relinquished the title after mentioning that she could be losing her opportunity to wrestle at WrestleMania as well.

Bliss then came out to demand that Bryan give her the title back, which led to him announcing Bliss vs. Becky Lynch on SmackDown to determine a new champion. Bliss won that match and regained the title after using underhanded tactics.

-A sit-down interview with Seth Rollins addressing Triple H, Samoa Joe, and his status for WrestleMania will air on next week's Raw. Goldberg and Brock Lesnar are also scheduled to be on Raw.

-After Shinsuke Nakamura said that he would like to face AJ Styles at WrestleMania, Styles responded on Twitter:

"@ShinsukeN how's this? Sorry, but I do have a match at Wrestlemania. N fact, I'll be headlining Wrestlemania after tonight."

-Steve Austin was backstage at Monday night's Raw recording an episode of his podcast with Kevin Owens.

-Diamond Dallas Page spoke to ESPN about his career and his post-wrestling projects after news broke that he would be part of the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame class.

-Monday’s episode of Raw did approximately 3,210,000 viewers for the show from Los Angeles and would be the highest number since the night after the Royal Rumble. The number has to be looked at as a positive given there was no Bill Goldberg and were also without Chris Jericho and Seth Rollins.

The first and second hour each averaged 3.26 million viewers and then third hour drop was minimal with 3.13 million. The main event between Braun Strowman and Big Show has to be credited for the strong third hour performance. In fact, it was the fourth highest third hour Raw has done since the brand split (the only ones to top it were the Monday after the brand split, the vacant Universal title match in August and the night after the Royal Rumble).

Raw was second for the night on cable in terms of total viewers, trailing only The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News. It was also second in the 18-49 demo, with a 1.16 rating, trailing Love and Hip Hop.

-Dwayne Johnson posted the following message regarding his impromptu phone call to CM Punk after Raw went off the air at the Staples Center on Monday:

"I work off instinct, always listen to the people and try to give em something special. Huge positive feedback from @WWE Universe. Fun night"

Some fans and media have been clamouring online for his dismissal and firing from the WWE for the incident. Some reports also claim Vince McMahon was very upset the company's #1 enemy in CM Punk was even mentioned let alone called up by the Rock.

Also Johnson posted a photo on Instagram with Kevin Owens from Monday night and shared a story about asking Curt Hawkins who Owens was when he was still Kevin Steen and wrestling on the indies.

-AJ Brooks tweeted in response to a video of Thea Trinidad playing her in "Fighting with My Family":

"Whoa haha. I’ve never looked hotter..."

-NXT is holding their television tapings in Tampa tonight at on the campus of UCF. These tapings should provide a clear picture with regards to the direction for Takeover on WrestleMania weekend. Bobby Roode is scheduled to defend the NXT Championship against Kassius Ohno at the tapings. Shinsuke Nakamura also returns to the ring following his storyline knee injury and will be facing TJ Perkins, and WWE is promoting a live appearance by Finn Balor for the crowd. Heidi Lovelace was given the name Ruby Riot in a dark match against Kimber Lee at the tapings.

-The WWE stock closed at $21.64 on Wednesday.

-After SmackDown's battle royal main event ended in controversy with WWE claiming that AJ Styles and Luke Harper's feet touched the floor at the same time, it was announced that Styles would be facing Harper next week. The match will supposedly determine a new number one contender for the WWE Championship as part of the storyline where Randy Orton refuses to face Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania.

-Mick Foley tweeted about the finish of the battle royal:

"Come on, if we did that on #Raw, we would be eviscerated for it by #Smackdown fans."

-The WWE also announced that John Cena would be appearing on Miz TV with The Miz and Maryse next week, which should ramp up the build to Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse at WrestleMania after that direction was furthered last night.

-The New Day would like to see Conor McGregor make an appearance in WWE.

**UPDATES for Feb.24/17**

-Asuka has stepped in to replace Naomi at WWE’s Madison Square Garden house show. The arena has updated the card for the March 12th show, with Asuka taking the former Smackdown Women’s Champion in an eight-woman tag team match alongside Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch and Tamina against Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, Natalya and Carmella

-Tuesday night's SmackDown on the USA Network was up to 2.792 million viewers, the show's third-best showing since last July's brand split.

The show featured a previously announced battle royal to supposedly determine a new number one contender for the WWE Championship in the main event. The night also opened with a SmackDown Women's Championship match between rivals Alexa Bliss and Becky Lynch after Naomi was forced to relinquish the title and a well-promoted grudge match between Nikki Bella and Natalya.

SmackDown finished fifth for the night in total viewers on cable, higher than it does most weeks, and it was second in the 18-49 demo with a 0.95 rating. It also retained a slightly higher than usual portion of the Raw audience from the night before, at 87.5 percent.

There was no big sports competition on Tuesday with the NBA on its All-Star break so that likely helped the rating, although all the major networks did have first-run programming.

-The WWE is booking Tyler Bate, Pete Dunne, Trent Seven, Wolfgang, Joseph Conners, T-Bone, Mark Andrews, James Drake, Dan Moloney Sean Gradwell, Saxon Huxley, Tucker and Jordan Devlin on its May tour of the U.K. WWE will be using the U.K. contracted talent on the May house show tour with six-man tag matches on both tours.

-Finn Balor returned at the NXT tapings doing a run-in to save Shinsuke Nakamura from a double-team attack from Bobby Roode and Andrade Cien Almas. This was likely just done for the live house in Orlando. Balor said he wasn't fully cleared, but he's expected back within two weeks.

-The WWE Network sent out a survey asking how interested people were in each match at Fastlane, if they were going to watch Fastlane and their overall opinion of the lineup.

-The Raw crew continues their tour of Germany with a card in Hannover today and wrap up the tour in Regensburg on Saturday and then return for the Monday’s episode of Raw in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Bill Goldberg's return is being promoted for what is the go-home show for Fast Lane. Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman are also booked on the show.

-The SmackDown crew is in Moline, Illinois on Saturday night with Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena vs. AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin advertised for the main event. There will be a Smackdown brand house show on Monday night in Dubuque, IA.

Smackdown and 205 Live will be Tuesday from St. Paul featuring an AJ Styles vs. Luke Harper match which supposedly will be for the WrestleMania title shot. John Cena and Nikki Bella are being invited to be guests on Miz TV as well.

-The WWE stock closed at $21.45 on Friday.

-WWE Hall of Famer (celebrity wing) Mr. T will be joining the cast of Dancing With the Stars when it returns to TV on March 20.

-There is a petition to get Dick "Destroyer" Beyer in the WWE Hall of Fame. It's the only Hall of Fame that he's not already in.

-Today is the third anniversary of the debut of the WWE Network, the tenth anniversary of the first Pride show in the U.S., and 39th anniversary of Bob Backlund beating Superstar Billy Graham for the WWWF title.

-The WWE is promoting a George Steele collection on the network. With the exception of a 1973 title match with Pedro Morales from Madison Square Garden, and a 1977 match with Bruno Sammartino, it's all 1983 or later. But the collection does have matches with Bob Backlund and Hulk Hogan. Nothing from Ivan Koloff, but that's not a surprise.

-It feels like WWE may not be so sure about the Big Show vs. Shaquille O'Neal match at WrestleMania from this interview with Show on the web site which says:

WWE.COM: Last question: You’ve been very vocal about wanting a match with Shaq at WrestleMania, and you just called him out on Twitter over karaoke and doughnuts.

BIG SHOW: I mean, here’s the thing. We shot this off at the ESPY Awards, Shaq said he’s in, I thought this would be a good match for fans to see two giants go at it. And I see Shaq riding around, singing karaoke and stopping in at Krispy Kreme. I’m like, “Hey! If you’re not gonna take it serious, find something else to do!” I’ve given 22 years of my blood, sweat and tears to this business and I’m doing this favor to Shaq. This could be my last WrestleMania. He needs to step up. I’m not trying to be mean, but my time’s valuable. I get it. I don’t have foot powder commercials, car commercials, insurance commercials. I get it. He’s a busy man. But if he’s gonna step in the ring, in my business, at our biggest event of the year? Show me you’re serious. If anything, talk a little trash. Let me know you’re motivated. Because right now? I just get the feeling he’s terrified. He shot his mouth off, he’s in over his head and he’s trying to back out. So just let me know what’s going on, brother.

**UPDATES for Feb.26/17**

-In an article on their website and a video on Instagram, the WWE promoted an angle where Kevin Owens attacked Chris Jericho at a house show in Germany. They've been doing the angle on the shows this tour, but it appears that this could at least be acknowledged on TV with WWE saying that Owens may face fallout for his actions. The WWE finished up the Germany tour yesterday and the crew is flying into Green Bay for the show tomorrow.

-There was apparently a possible incident involving Tom Phillips on a flight where he was found to be messaging to another person in a pretty lewd affair. Screenshots of his tablet have appeared online.

-WWE.com posted an updated list of the 100 best matches on the Network in celebration of the streaming service's third birthday.

-Alexa Bliss and her parents were profiled on WWE's "My Daughter is a WWE Superstar" video series.

-Casey Michael of Squared Circle Sirens reported that Canadian weightlifter Isabel Lahela has signed with WWE and will be starting at the Performance Center in April.

-Goldberg tweeted a congratulations to Asuka on having 149 wins in a row.

-Mashable interviewed John Cena about his first impressions of the Nintendo Switch and his favorite video games as a child.

-Mike Mooneyham wrote about WWE missing the opportunity to induct Ivan Koloff into their Hall of Fame while he was still alive.

-AJ Styles is off the weekend Smackdown house shows. He was advertised. It was an ad mix-up as he had the time off and will be back to wrestle Luke Harper on Tuesday night in St. Paul.

-Ric Flair celebrated his 68th birthday in Los Angeles doing a signing at Frank & Son's Collectibles. There were hundreds of people singing Happy Birthday to him when he arrived.

-Kurt Angle will make a non-wrestling appearance at Harley Race's WLW show on 3/11 in Troy, MO. It will be Angle's first time with the promotion and his first time ever appearing in Troy. He will do a meet and greet from 1-4 p.m. that day at the Race Wrestling Arena.

Come back for more news, so don't 'cha dare miss it!
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Posted 2/27/17 , edited 3/5/17
Raw will be live on Monday from Green Bay, WI. Bill Goldberg's return is being promoted for what is the go-home show for Fastlane. Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman are also booked on the show. Seth Rollins will do a sit down interview as well to update his status. Check out the week leading to the PPV, everything happening on SmackDown and more next!

General sources are as normally credited to http://www.f4wonline.com/ and http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/news.html and http://fightnetwork.com/ and http://www.411mania.com/wrestling and http://www.pwi-online.com and http://www.thescore.com/trending while please also note that all news and rumours are subject to updates and changes.

Raw Presents WWE Fastlane on Sunday, March 5 from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/wwefastlane and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fastlane_(2017)

UPDATED CARD:

*WWE Universal Championship Match: Kevin Owens (C - w/ Chris Jericho) vs. Goldberg
*Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
*Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville (C) vs. Jack Gallagher
*Tag Team Championship Match: The Club (C-Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows) vs. Enzo & Cass
*Women's Championship Match: Bayley (C) vs. Charlotte Flair
*Sami Zayn vs. Samoa Joe
*Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks
*Rusev (w/ Lana) vs. TBA
*Jinder Mahal vs. TBA

*Kickoff Show Match: Noam Dar (w/ Alicia Fox) & The Brian Kendrick vs. Rich Swann & Akira Tozawa

NXT TakeOver: Orlando on Saturday, April 1 from Orlando, Florida

Additional Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NXT_TakeOver:_Orlando and http://www.wwe.com/shows/wwenxt

*NXT Championship Match: Bobby Roode (C) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
*Women's Championship Match: Asuka (C) vs. Ember Moon
*Triple Threat Elimination Tag Team Match for the Tag Team Championship: The Authors of Pain (C-Akam & Rezar w/ Paul Ellering) vs. The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) vs. #DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa)

Wrestlemania 33 on Sunday, April 2 from Orlando, Florida

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/wrestlemania and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WrestleMania_33

UPDATED CARD:

Hosted by The New Day (Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston & Big E)

*WWE Universal Championship Match: Goldberg (C) vs. Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman)
*WWE Championship Match: Bray Wyatt (C) vs. AJ Styles or Randy Orton

**WWE Hall of Fame Class Presentation (Ceremony on April 1): Kurt Angle (Presenter TBA), The Rock 'n' Roll Express of Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson (Presenter TBA), Teddy Long (Presenter TBA), Diamond Dallas Page (Presenter TBA), Beth Phoenix (Presenter TBA)

-TNA is not renewing the deals for Drew Galloway (Drew McIntyre when he was in the WWE) and the Hardy Brothers and there are various rumours they might be signed by the WWE. TNA claims it an economic issue and that TNA cannot compete with WWE when it comes to cost. The talks appear to have broken down over the weekend and the decision was made to go separate ways.

The big argument right now is who owns the rights to the Broken Hardy character as TNA claims ownership and that they would not be allowed to keep the character in the WWE. Matt claims, as reported by Pro Wrestling Sheet, that TNA owns the rights to anything filmed for TNA but he owns the names and all the characters.

With the contracts of Matt & Jeff both expiring this month, they can start anywhere immediately. Those in TNA believe they are WWE bound, knowing that they are a hot act and at their age, the window would close if they don't think about going now.

-Adam Cole the ROH champion's deal is up in April and is another name rumoured to be in pursuit by the WWE.

-As the WWE gets closer to WrestleMania with each passing week, the company revealed another member of this year's Hall of Fame class on Monday afternoon.

USA Today was chosen to break the news that Beth Phoenix will be inducted into the 2017 Hall of Fame class. She joins Kurt Angle, The Rock 'n' Roll Express, Teddy Long, and Diamond Dallas Page as the already announced members of the lineup.

“To hear they find my career was worthy enough and that I did well enough in the ring to be honored among the greatest of all time was incredible and the biggest compliment I could ever ask for,” Phoenix told USA Today. “It’s still sinking in and is very surreal.”

With Phoenix's husband Adam "Edge" Copeland having previously been inducted in 2012, the couple are now the only spouses currently in the Hall of Fame.

“He was like, ‘Oh, Ok.’ He wasn’t shocked by it at all,” Phoenix said about her husband's reaction to the news that she would be joining the Hall of Fame.

“He’s like, ‘Of course, you deserve it.’ I was shocked by that response, too. I said, ‘You think I deserve this? Is this the right time?’ He was 100 percent confident and he made me feel like a million bucks about it. He is super excited. We’re still celebrating it and looking forward to seeing everyone at WrestleMania and enjoying the experience.”

Phoenix is both a former Women's and Divas Champion and was one of the better workers in the division prior to the current period that WWE has dubbed as the "women's revolution." She debuted on the main roster in 2006 after a stint in Ohio Valley Wrestling before retiring in 2012.

-Chris Jericho is advertised on the website for the Raw show but he was also advertised last week and kept off. The crew is coming off a tour of Germany, which wrapped up on Saturday and Jericho was on the tour but didn’t wrestle. He did do an angle where Kevin Owens attacked him and this might air on TV.

-Finn Balor is being advertised for the WWE’s house show in Buffalo on Friday March 10th and also for the Toronto house show the following night.

-The WWE stock closed at $21.46 on Monday.

**UPDATES for March 1/17**

-Monday’s episode of Raw averaged approximately 3,080,000 viewers and a drop of 128,000 viewers from last week’s episode. The opening hour wasn’t very strong in comparison to most weeks with 3.13 million viewers and would be the third lowest opening hour of the year (the two opening hours that were lower were on January 2nd and 9th going against the Rose Bowl and College Football Championship games respectively).

The second hour grew to 3.23 million and the third hour drop took the audience down to an average of 2.92 million viewers. Unlike last week, Braun Strowman being featured in the closing segment of the show did not retain to the same degree it did last week for his match with Big Show). Raw was second for the night on cable, trailing only the O'Reilly Factor, which did 3.81 million viewers. Other Fox News shows that have been beating Raw were below it this week.

-Brock Lesnar did appear in front of the live audience in Green Bay after Raw went off the air. Lesnar came out with Paul Heyman and cut a promo before Lesnar faced Big Show and won.

-The WWE stock closed at $20.98 on Monday. The WWE stock closed at $20.87 on Wednesday.

-One of WrestleMania 33's planned matches seems to be in serious doubt.

While responding to rumours surrounding his scheduled WrestleMania match against Big Show, NBA Legend Shaquille O'Neal said on his podcast this week that the bout "probably" won't be happening.

"It's not going to happen?" Shaq asked. "That's probably right. It's not my fault, that's all you need to know. It ain't my fault. Oh, it ain't my fault."

Shaq went on to say that the plans likely falling through have nothing to do with him or his management. He said that it isn't definitive that the match is off yet, though things aren't looking good. He claimed that he's still training like it's going to take place and challenged Big Show to meet him wherever he wants to meet, leaving the door open for this to be part of a storyline if the match does occur.

Big Show vs. Shaq had long been pencilled in for WrestleMania in Orlando. Shaq appeared at WrestleMania 32 last year as a surprise entrant in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, where he had a face off with Big Show. They also did an angle where Shaq accepted Big Show's challenge at the ESPY Awards last summer.

Much of the build for the match had been done on social media and based around the two attempting to get in shape for WrestleMania. But speculation that the match could possibly be off began to increase over the last couple of weeks.

In a WWE.com article about his recent weight loss, Big Show said that Shaq not taking the match seriously was why it may not be happening.

"I mean, here’s the thing. We shot this off at the ESPY Awards, Shaq said he’s in, I thought this would be a good match for fans to see two giants go at it. And I see Shaq riding around, singing karaoke and stopping in at Krispy Kreme. I’m like, 'Hey! If you’re not gonna take it serious, find something else to do.'"

In an interview with the Sporting News, Big Show was asked about Shaquille O'Neal claiming that their WrestleMania match "probably" won't happen and said that he still doesn't know whether the match is off yet.

-John Cena spoke to Sports Illustrated's Justin Barrasso and reflected on previously being critical of The Rock's pursuits outside of pro wrestling.

-Dave Meltzer tweeted that Finn Balor is due back any day now.

-ESPN's Brian Campbell interviewed JBL for a profile on his career.

-A new trailer for the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2 was released this week. The movie, coming out this May, stars WWE legend Dave “Batista” Bautista, reprising his role of Drax.

-Tuesday’s episode of Smackdown averaged 2,566,000 viewers on the USA Network with the second hour going up against President Trump’s address to Congress. The audience is down 8% from last week’s number and would imagine it bounces back next week without a major speech going against the show.

The show retained just over 83% of the Raw audience from the night before, matching the 2017 average. Last week's show did the third-best viewership number since the July 2016 brand split.

With all of the coverage by cable news networks of the speech, SmackDown didn't crack the top 10 in overall cable viewers. Instead, they were 7th for the night in the 18-49 demo with a 0.86 ratings but ahead of all non-speech coverage.

The main event was Luke Harper vs. AJ Styles to determine the SmackDown world title challenger at WrestleMania and closed with a memorable angle featuring Randy Orton burning down the Wyatt Compound.

-Jack Swagger (Jake Hager) announced on Chael Sonnen’s Beyond the Fight podcast that he has requested his release from the WWE.

Swagger cited a frustration over the years of start-and-stop pushes over the course of his eight-years on the main roster.

Swagger wrestled for the University of Oklahoma but was always a fan of professional wrestling growing up and was signed to a developmental deal in 2006 and went through Deep South, OVW and FCW before making his main roster debut in 2008.

Swagger won the ECW title within his first six-months on the roster when he defeated Matt Hardy and held the title until April 2009 and was moved to the Raw brand shortly afterwards.

Swagger’s biggest push came in 2010 when he won the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at WrestleMania 26 and defeated Chris Jericho two-days later to win the World title on Smackdown. His reign didn’t last long and would drop the title in June that year. His career faltered after this point with a mid-card position for the next several years and never got back to the main event scene.

He received a big push at the start of 2013, being paired with Zeb Colter as heel American patriots with the slogan “We the People” and was programmed with Alberto Del Rio for a title match at WrestleMania that year. Right as the push began Swagger was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and drug possession. He was eventually fined $500 and placed on probation for six-months. Swagger lost to Del Rio at WrestleMania and was again moved down the card and started teaming with Cesaro as The Real Americans.

Last summer, he was drafted to the Raw brand but then jumped to Smackdown with the storyline that his contract expired. He had a brief feud with Baron Corbin and has been non-existent on television since that point.

"As of yesterday, Chael, I asked for my release from WWE," Swagger said. "It's still kind of an ongoing process right now. Basically, it came down to contract negotiations and we were way off. They didn't value me at what I thought I was valued at. So, you can be angry about it because wrestling is something that you get so passionate about, but this was a business decision. They weren't giving me the opportunity to make the full amount of income I could for my family, so when you put it like that it's time to go."

Swagger said that the start-and-stop nature of his booking was frustrating, but noted that it's something that happens all of the time and that there are two people in a room in WWE who determine who the best wrestlers are even though the crowd may like others more.

When asked what his plans are going forward, Swagger noted that he's young and is leaving because he wasn't getting opportunities.

In the interview, Swagger stated he will continue wrestling and said there are plenty of opportunities out there and mentioned working in the U.K. and Mexico and is also open to the idea of fighting in mixed martial arts.

-WWE will be releasing "Fight Owens Fight: The Kevin Owens Story" on DVD in July. The company posted a teaser for the DVD on Twitter.

-John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. James Ellsworth & Carmella has been announced for next week's SmackDown.

-After the angle where Randy Orton turned his back on Bray Wyatt last night, there was a segment on Talking Smack that furthered tensions between AJ Styles and Shane McMahon with Styles still demanding to challenge for Wyatt's WWE Championship at WrestleMania.

**UPDATES for March 2/17**

-WWE superstar Goldberg shares with GQ the diet that keeps him unstoppable at 50 years old.

-A piece on Big Show's weight loss is at http://www.bardown.com/the-big-show-has-lost-so-much-weight-he-now-has-six-pack-abs-1.685714 along with photos. Another story at http://www.thescore.com/news/1244318-shaq-big-show-wrestlemania-33-match-up-in-the-air looks at how the match at WrestleMania with Shaquille O'Neal is up in the air.

**Brian Fritz of the Sporting News spoke to Big Show (Paul Wight) earlier this week and Show provided the following statement on the status of a match with Shaquille O’Neal at WrestleMania next month in Orlando:

"It is a little frustrating because my contract ends in February 2018. So I don’t know what’s going to happen between now and then. I don’t know if there will be an opportunity for me next year at WrestleMania or not. I don’t know because there’s a lot of new Superstars breaking out and I’ve done my time. This was my perhaps my last opportunity to have a featured match at WrestleMania. And I would have had a good time working with Shaq.

But this is a situation where, obviously, it’s above my paygrade. It’s between Shaq and WWE. Whatever their situation is, who knows. Either that or he say the fact that I was starting to get in really good shape and he got scared and decided that he wants to bail out. It’s real easy to talk about stepping in the ring but once you do actually step in the ring, it takes a lot of courage and mental fortitude to do what we do. I understand the fact that if it’s something that he doesn’t want to do, that he’s scared of, that’s fine but don’t put the blame on me because it isn’t me. Just own up to it and say you’re scared and that’s that.

That’s just me talking trash. Shaq is one of the greatest big men of all-time in the NBA, without a doubt. I love him as a basketball player and he’s a really good dude. This is a little bit frustrating on my end because this is an important thing for me. At the same time, I know that if this opportunity doesn’t happen, I know that as long as I’ve been in this business I’m sure I can stir up trouble somehow at WrestleMania and get involved in something. There’s somewhere I can make an impact and make it memorable. And if it turns out that I don’t get to be in WrestleMania, at the same time, that’s OK too. I’ve been in a few memorable moments at WrestleMania and WrestleMania is a ‘Showcase of the Immortals’. The guys that are on there deserve to be on there, have worked hard to be on there, and are going to give the best show that they can. I’ll be there. Shaq lives in Orlando, right? I’ll drive over, show up. I’ve got three moves. I’ve said it before — I’ve got a headbutt, a chop and a chokeslam. Show up and I’ll be more than happy to give you all three."

-Filming for the HBO / Bill Simmons / WWE documentary on Andre the Giant is scheduled to begin in April. They are planning to shoot in Montreal, Japan and Europe and interviewing key people involved in Andre’s life and career.

-The WAW group out of Norwich, England has announced that Jack Swagger (Jake Hager) will be working for them next weekend. The promotion is run by Paige’s family. This would appear to signal his request to be released by the WWE has either been granted or is about to.

-The WWE stock closed at $20.52 on Thursday.

-There was significant betting today for Sunday's Fastlane show that turned odds around completely in two matches. Nia Jax is now -1500 against Sasha Banks, and Braun Strowman is now -2000 against Roman Reigns.

-There is a documentary on the Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Hell in a Cell match.

-There is a pre-sale going on for the Extreme Rules PPV on 6/4 in Baltimore at the Royal Farms Arena with the code: EXTREMERULES

-Kurt Angle was on ESPN today talking WWE Hall of Fame.

-A pre-sale for the 5/15 Raw from Newark, NJ is going on with the code: WWERAW

-The Hollywood Reporter today noted that actress Haley Lu Richardson ("Split") has been added to the movie "The Pact," a comedy where John Cena is one of the stars. The movie is set for release on April 20, 2018. It's about three parents, one of which was Cena, finding out that their daughters have all planned to lose their virginity after the prom and they go out and try to stop that from happening.

**UPDATES for March 3/17**

-The WWE has issued a statement regarding the status of Jack Swagger and stated that he has not been released yet and if he is, would have a 90-day no compete clause. It was announced on Thursday by the WAW group out of England that Swagger would be working for them next weekend and the WWE’s statement would indicate he is prohibited from working with any outside group at the moment.

-A singles match between Randy Orton and AJ Styles has been announced for next Tuesday’s episode of Smackdown in Indianapolis with the winner receiving the WrestleMania title shot. Also for the show will be John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. James Ellsworth & Carmella.

-The Raw doesn’t have any house shows this weekend prior to the Fast Lane event on Sunday night in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Smackdown crew starts Saturday night in La Crosse, Wisconsin. John Cena and Randy Orton are not advertised for the show on Saturday.

-NXT is on the road this weekend with a card in Cleveland tonight at the Agora Theatre and in Warren, Ohio on Saturday night at the W.D. Packard Music Hall.

-The WWE stock closed at $20.97 on Friday.

-Raw will be Monday night in Chicago at the All-State Arena. Brock Lesnar, Bill Goldberg and Chris Jericho are all advertised for Monday's show. There will also be a Smackdown brand house show Monday night in Bloomington, IL. No John Cena or Nikki Bella advertised but Randy Orton is advertised.

-It's highly doubtful that John Cena or even Nikki Bella will be on the road for next weekend since Cena is hosting the Kids Choice Awards on 3/11. This is all subject to change since the ad department isn't always aware of what's going on as last weekend shows.

-Jerry Lawler will be in Milwaukee to do the post-fight show after Fast Lane on the WWE Network.

**UPDATES for March 4/17**

-In an interview with ESPN, Big Show blamed Shaquille O'Neal's weight for why their planned WrestleMania match may not happen.

"It's on Shaq," Big Show said. "He has to figure things out in his own camp. Maybe he is just too scared to show up because he's too busy riding around singing karaoke with John Cena and going to Krispy Kreme and getting fatter every week."

-Corey Graves filmed an interview with Kurt Angle, which will air on an episode of "Bring it to the Table" on the WWE Network on March 13th.

-Charlotte Flair appeared at last night's Milwaukee Bucks game and interrupted the mascot race with a steel chair. The Bucks play at the Bradley Center, which is where Fastlane will take place on Sunday, and Charlotte was also interviewed before the game.

-Sasha Banks spoke to Mirror Online about her Hell in a Cell match with Charlotte.

-Dana Brooke competed at the Arnold Classic last night.

-Mary Kate (formerly known as Andrea on the indies) and former Seattle Seahawks running back Demitrius Bronson made their NXT house show debuts at last night's show in Crystal River, Florida.

-Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson continued to post pictures on his Instagram account from his time backstage at Raw last month. He had positive words for Samoa Joe, Bayley, and Enzo Amore.

-Extreme Rules will be a Raw-exclusive pay-per-view.

-The La Crosse Tribune has an article on Mojo Rawley's life in pro wrestling after football.

-The Orlando Sentinel spoke to Shawn Michaels about his role at the WWE Performance Center.

**UPDATES for March 5/17**

-Becky Lynch was shown on the UFC 209 broadcast and was at the arena to support her boyfriend, Luke Sanders. She was also at the weigh-ins on Friday. Lynch was shown on screen on FS1 and identified.

-F8: The Fate of the Furious, which is the last Fast & Furious movie, with Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel, opens on 4/14 in the U.S. Australia gets the open on 4/12. That means Johnson should be in heavy movie promotion mode at WrestleMania time. They haven't pushed his name on the show of late, but he's shown up to do angles without being promoted in the past.

-There will be an episode of Ride Along in the post-Raw time slot tomorrow night on the WWE Network. It'll have Cesaro, Sami Zayn and Neville travelling together in the most underrated car on the circuit.

Come back for more news, so don't 'cha dare miss it!
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The road to WrestleMania truly begins in Chicago for Raw. Here are the news and notes of the week with a month left before the big PPV.

General sources are as normally credited to http://www.f4wonline.com/ and http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/news.html and http://fightnetwork.com/ and http://www.411mania.com/wrestling and http://www.pwi-online.com and http://www.thescore.com/trending while please also note that all news and rumours are subject to updates and changes.

NXT TakeOver: Orlando on Saturday, April 1 from Orlando, Florida

Additional Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NXT_TakeOver:_Orlando and http://www.wwe.com/shows/wwenxt

*NXT Championship Match: Bobby Roode (C) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
*NXT Women's Championship Match: Asuka (C) vs. Ember Moon
*Triple Threat Elimination Tag Team Match for the NXT Tag Team Championship: The Authors of Pain (C-Akam & Rezar w/ Paul Ellering) vs. The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) vs. #DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa)

Wrestlemania 33 on Sunday, April 2 from Orlando, Florida

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/wrestlemania and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WrestleMania_33

UPDATED CARD:

Hosted by The New Day (Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston & Big E)

*WWE Universal Championship Match: Goldberg (C) vs. Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman)
*WWE Championship Match: Bray Wyatt (C) vs. Randy Orton
*WWE United States Championship Match: Chris Jericho (C) vs. Kevin Owens
*Triple Threat Match for the WWE Raw Women's Championship: Bayley (C) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair (w/ Dana Brooke)
*WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match: The Club (C-Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows) vs. Cesaro & Sheamus or Enzo & Big Cass
*The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale
Participants Announced: Mojo Rawley (SmackDown), Apollo Crews (SmackDown)
*Mixed Tag Match: John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
*Multi-woman Match for the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship: Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Mickie James vs. Becky Lynch vs. vs. Natalya vs. Carmella vs. Eva Marie vs. Naomi vs. Tamina
*Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
*Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville (C) vs. Austin Aries

**WWE Hall of Fame Class Presentation (Ceremony on April 1): Kurt Angle (Presenter TBA), The Rock 'n' Roll Express of Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson (Presenter TBA), Teddy Long (Presenter TBA), Diamond Dallas Page (Presenter TBA), Beth Phoenix (Presenter TBA), Rick Rude (Presenter Ricky Steamboat)

-The latest named added to the WWE’s Hall of Fame class for 2017 is Rick Rude and he will be inducted posthumously by Ricky Steamboat. Steamboat spoke to Bleacher Report about inducting Rude.

Rude was one of many wrestlers to come out of Robbinsdale High and was trained by Eddie Sharkey. Prior to his big national run with the WWF, he had significant runs in both Memphis, Florida and WCCW in Texas. Rude was a natural heel and that personality came through when paired with Bobby Heenan in the WWF once he began there in 1987. Rude was a part of many memorable feuds, including with Jake Roberts after Rude tried to flirt with his wife, Cheryl in the front row and not realizing who she was. Rude would also be one of the few guys to get a pinfall on Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania 5 in 1989 when Heenan held Warrior’s foot down from the floor and Rude won the Intercontinental title from Warrior. Rude was also the guy they went with as Warrior’s first major program after winning the WWF title in April 1990 and then two had a strong steel cage match at that year’s SummerSlam event in Philadelphia (on a show where Hulk Hogan vs. Earthquake was promoted strongly as well). Rude left the WWF shortly after this program and the two sides were at odds over Rude being advertised for events he wasn’t appearing on and then not being paid for them.

He would show up in WCW in October 1991 and joined Paul Heyman’s Dangerous Alliance and was a featured heel in the main event mix. During this run in WCW, he held the International heavyweight title on three occasions (which was the renamed NWA version of the title in WCW) and also participated in the second annual G-1 Climax, where he had an excellent match with Masahiro Chono in the finals and they did a rematch at that year’s Halloween Havoc in 1992, which was the complete opposite of the first match in terms of quality. Rude’s career came to an end after a back injury he suffered in a match with Sting at the New Japan Dontaku event in May 1994.

He later worked for ECW in 1997 in a non-wrestling capacity and served as a color commentator, where the adage was true about guys that were great promos that didn’t always translate to being great commentators. From there he went to the WWF and was the bodyguard for DX and led to the infamous night where Rude appeared on a live Nitro in November while also being on a taped Raw the same night after leaving the WWF for the final time. In WCW, he a member of the N.W.O. and mainly aligned with Curt Hennig but Rude never wrestled during this time. He died in April 1999 due to heart failure when he was reportedly training for a comeback in the ring and was 40 years old.

-Tonight’s episode of Raw from the Allstate Arena in Chicago should be a big show with Bill Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker and Chris Jericho all expected to be on the show. The real build for WrestleMania begins tonight with four-weeks until the event. The Undertaker is scheduled for an appearance and angle on tonight’s show to push forward his program with Roman Reigns.

As of earlier today, there was a plan for controversy regarding one of the title matches. Since clearly the tag team title match and cruiserweight title match had no controversy, that leaves the heavyweight and women's title and the heavyweight title doesn't seem to fit but we'll see if that goes through and how it will be handled.

-Smackdown has a house show tonight in Bloomington, Illinois with Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose among those advertised. The Smackdown and 205 Live tapings are Tuesday night in Indianapolis, Indiana.

-Jerry Lawler is the latest wrestler to be launching a podcast with his first show scheduled for this Wednesday. Lawler will co-host with Glenn Moore and the show will air on podavenue.com.

-Shaquille O'Neal on his podcast has claimed that he's back in talks with WWE officials about the WrestleMania match with Big Show.

-The first AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton match of their new program took place as the main event of the SmackDown brand house show last night in Rockford. It's expected that will be the main event in Bloomington, IL tonight before their TV match on Tuesday night in Indianapolis to determine who faces Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania.

-Finn Balor is advertised as starting back on the road this coming weekend on the Raw brand.

-Last night's show was the rare show where the smart money didn't come in late at all, and major underdogs won matches including Sasha Banks and Roman Reigns.

-WWE is now advertising SummerSlam travel packages, to get the best tickets to the show before they go on sale to the public on 3/25. SummerSlam will be part of a weekend with NXT Takeover on 8/19, SummerSlam on 8/20, Raw on 8/21 and SmackDown on 8/22 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

-Chris Jericho has a fundraising campaign for Type 1 diabetes research and is selling Stupid Idiot T-shirts for the next two weeks to raise money.

-Enzo & Big Cass will take on Cesaro & Sheamus next week on Raw in Detroit for the right to face the Club for the Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania.

-Akira Tozawa faces The Brian Kendrick on 205 Live this week and Austin Aries will meet up with the Cruiserweight Champion Neville.

**UPDATES for March 7/17**

-John Cena is in a new commercial for Hefty bags.

-At http://www.thescore.com/news/1248489-the-rock-shows-off-intense-workout-routine the Rock shows off his workout routine.

-Coming the day after Fastlane, Raw was up four percent from last week, averaging 3.20 million viewers, with a particularly strong second hour but a major drop in the third hour.

The number was virtually identical to that of two weeks earlier and based on normal patterns of gaining about 10 percent after football season ends, Raw should be doing 3.2 million viewers weekly right now.

Raw was second to the O'Reilly Factor (3.85 million viewers) for the night on cable.

The key second hour item was the Goldberg-Brock Lesnar face-to-face angle where Lesnar laid Goldberg out with an F-5.

There was an across the board third hour drop, of 13 percent, far larger than usual, even in the male demos which usually hold steady in that hour.

The third hour was built around a confrontation with Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman that never happened, and Undertaker was never advertised to appear, and both Lesnar and Goldberg had already appeared by that time.

-Video on YouTube of the ending of Raw has been edited to remove all booing of Roman Reigns during his segment with the Undertaker.

-WWE.com is teasing that there may be entrants announced for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal as well.

-Austin Aries conducting an interview with himself is advertised for 205 Live tonight after he began a program with Neville on Raw.

-Big Show was interviewed by Yahoo Sports.

-The WWE is advertising that Emma will return soon, again.

-Kassius Ohno spoke to WWE.com about returning to NXT.

-The WWE released late at night the following:

"BREAKING: WWE is saddened to learn that Ronald Heard, known as “Outlaw” Ron Bass, has passed away at the age of 68."

Ronald Heard, who wrestled regularly in almost every major promotion from 1973 to 1989 as "Outlaw" Ron Bass, passed away Tuesday at the age of 68.

Bass suffered a burst appendix, but didn't realize the seriousness of his condition. He waited a week before getting checked out and because of waiting so long, the poison overcame his body and he passed away.

He had been scheduled for an autograph show over this past weekend and the word was that he was hospitalized.

Bass started his career as Ronnie Heard, but became Ron Bass in a tag team with Don Bass, who also recently passed away, while working for Nick Gulas in Tennessee in 1973. He was a powerful looking man (think Bill Watts although he was not the level of a star that Watts was).

He worked in Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida before being a headliner as Sam Oliver Bass in Oregon. He then came to California where he held the Americas tag team titles on multiple occasions.

He had his biggest main event success in Florida. He first came in as the childhood best friend of Dusty Rhodes and later turned on him, leading to a long feud with Rhodes and Barry Windham.

Bass and Stan Hansen also had a one week run as International tag team champions, winning and losing the belts against Giant Baba and Jumbo Tsuruta.

He later formed tag teams with One Man Gang and Black Bart. Bass & Bart held championships in both Florida and for Jim Crockett Promotions.

He ended his career with a 1987-89 run in the WWF, feuding with the likes of Junkyard Dog and Brutus Beefcake.

Heard was one of the 60 plaintiffs in the current lawsuit against WWE regarding concussions.

**UPDATES for March 8/17**

-At http://www.thescore.com/news/1249276-orlando-unveils-giant-wwe-championship-belt-ahead-of-wrestlemania-33 the WWE unveiled in Orlando a giant WWE title belt.

-Tuesday night’s episode of Smackdown did a strong average of 2,738,000 viewers on the USA Network, built around the first singles match between Randy Orton and AJ Styles for the WrestleMania title shot as well as John Cena & Nikki Bella teaming up. It was the third highest number of year for Smackdown. That number is up from the 2.566 million the show did last week, which was against President Donald Trump's address to Congress, and closer to the strong number that SmackDown did two weeks ago when it averaged 2.792 million viewers.

-While the main focus of Talking Smack was an angry AJ Styles going after Shane McMahon in the long rumoured WrestleMania match that many fans and media have dreaded, in what was treated like a throwaway line and not followed up on, the most interesting part of Talking Smack was Daniel Bryan’s comment about his future in the ring. This occurred during an exchange with The Miz at the desk and Miz stating that Bryan cannot wrestle due to his head and Bryan responding with a rhetorical question of whether he can’t wrestle or isn’t allowed and then added “we’ll see what happens in a year-and-a-half”. It is obviously no secret Bryan still wants to wrestle and feels that he can and once he fulfills his existing contract with the WWE, he would be free to work anywhere he wants and few promotions would restrict him from wrestling if he was adamant about doing it.

-Based on this week’s WWE television, you essentially have the entire WrestleMania card laid out with a few questions marks over where the likes of Braun Strowman end up (I would imagine he is bound for the battle royal) and if Finn Balor does return on television and finding a role for him. Other than that, this appears to be the card between matches officially announced or strongly hinted at on television:

*Bill Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship
*Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship
*Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens for the United States Championship
*The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
*Triple H vs. Seth Rollins
*AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon
*John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
*Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin for the Intercontinental Championship
*Bayley vs. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Championship
*Alexa Bliss defending her SmackDown Women’s title against all the SmackDown women – the type of match hasn’t been announced as it could be a Gauntlet style match or multi-person match (the way this match has been announced, it also provides an opening if Naomi can work the show and can be inserted up until the last minute; it could also re-debut people like Tamina, Eva Marie and a rumoured return of Kelly Kelly)
*The Club (C-Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows) vs. Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Enzo & Big Cass for the Raw Tag Team Championship
*Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal – Mojo Rawley and Apollo Crews are announced so far
*Neville vs. Austin Aries for the Cruiserweight Championship
*American Alpha (C-Jason Jordan & Chad Gable) vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship

The other possibilities could be a multi-person Cruiserweight match to get all those guys on the show, likely on the pre-show. The Big Show vs. Shaquille O’Neal match comes down to whether or not a deal is struck and time is running out if you want to shoot that angle on television and it’s coming down to the wire. Shaq was at least more optimistic this past week on his podcast that the match could happen.

Don't expect Nia Jax to be added to the card as she was never in the original plans.

-Bill Goldberg is not advertised for another episode of Raw until March 27th, which is the final Raw before WrestleMania. Brock Lesnar is scheduled for all the episodes until WrestleMania.

-The WWE stock closed at $20.51 on Wednesday.

-Austin Aries returned to the ring against Tony Nese on 205 Live last night.

-Edge celebrated International Women's Day with a post on his Facebook account about his wife Beth Phoenix and her induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.

-The WWE released the first new Kurt Angle t-shirt since he returned to the company's good graces.

-Big Show posted a video reflecting on Detroit's Joe Louis Arena, which was where he debuted for WCW. Next Monday's Raw will be the last episode to take place at the arena before it closes down.

**UPDATES for March 9/17**

-Big Show as seen at http://www.thescore.com/news/1250379-big-show-hits-the-gym-with-a-rod-lenny-kravitz-russell-okung is showing off his workouts with the likes of musician Lenny Kravitz, former MLB player now coach Alex Rodriguez and NFL player Russell Okung at a gym.

-On Wednesday night’s episode of NXT, the top matches were confirmed for the next Takeover special set for Saturday April 1st in Orlando over WrestleMania weekend.

In the NXT title match, Bobby Roode will defend the title against Shinsuke Nakamura in a rematch from the January special.

Asuka will be defending the women’s title against Ember Moon.

Asuka won the title exactly one year earlier on April 1st 2016 from Bayley at last year’s Takeover special in Dallas.

-There is a lot going on this weekend with the ROH PPV tomorrow night from Las Vegas as well as last year's G-1 Climax debuting tomorrow night on AXS, the New Japan Cup starts this weekend with live shows on late Friday/Saturday and late Saturday/Sunday, UFC has an FS1 show from Fortaleza, Brazil on Saturday night. WWE also has a major Toronto house show with HHH wrestling and Finn Balor is scheduled to return tomorrow night in Buffalo.

-There will be a closed-circuit airing of the NXT TakeOver show from Orlando on 4/1 in Melbourne, Australia at the Village Cinemas.

-Dolph Ziggler has a comedy show called "BioDome" in Los Angeles tomorrow night at The Pack Theater.

-There are rumours that the Hardys had medical checks in Pittsburgh in preparation for a possible WWE run. Their new deal with ROH is rumoured to be only until May but there's no official date on how long the deal runs. Also Matt Hardy is trying to secure the intellectual property to the Broken Matt Hardy gimmick even if TNA is claiming they own the rights.

-Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer notes on Daniel Bryan's line from Talking Smack refers to how indeed his deal will be done in a year and a half and be no longer frozen by the WWE. CMLL and NJPW are already considering signing him.

**UPDATES for March 11/17**

-The Raw crew was in Buffalo, New York Friday night at the KeyBank Center and features the return of Finn Balor following shoulder surgery last August. Balor is advertised for Toronto on Saturday night as well, along with Triple H, who is working both those shows too. The Smackdown crew is in Fairfax, Virginia on Saturday and then Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

-The WWE has announced a set of television tapings for Norwich, England on May 6th and 7th at Epic Studios for “United Kingdom Championship Live”. The tapings coincide with the WWE’s European tour and they are advertising Tyler Bate, Pete Dunne, Trent Seven, Mark Andrews, Wolfgang, Sam Gradwell, Tyson T-Bone, James Drake, Joseph Connors, Saxon Huxley and Dan Moloney for the tapings. They are also adding Cruiserweights from the main roster and specially listing Rich Swann, Akira Tozawa, Brian Kendrick and Tony Nese.

Epic Studios is where Paige Knight's World Association of Wrestling used to film their weekly show at, and with three studios, the seating configuration can range from 500-1500.

WWE's main roster has shows in Valencia, Spain and Belfast, Northern Ireland on May 6, and A Coruna, Spain and Liverpool, England on May 7, on the same days as the Epic Studios/UK TV taping days. This is notable because WWE had been advertising that the UK tournament guys would be working 6 man tags on the main roster shows during the May European tour, so obviously they won't be on those dates.

The dates don't conflict with any PROGRESS shows, but do go head-to-head with an OTT event in Ireland on May 6th, and a RevPro show on May 7th.

This will be a taping for the WWE's new U.K. television show. It's not clear if this will air on the network or on Sky, or somewhere else, but the idea was not for it to be a network show originally as it's meant to get the jump on ITV running its weekly show, which is not official, but probable. It is the same studio that the WAW promotion in the U.K. tapes out of, which is Paige's family. However, they are furious for WWE going there feeling it's their taping studio. It will be set up for 900 seats both days. This is obviously a late thing because the U.K. talent had been booked on WWE house shows those days and now they've been pulled. This will be a combination of the wrestlers under contract in the U.K. and several of the WWE cruiserweights who would be booked on 5/8 and 5/9 for Raw and Smackdown but weren't booked on the house shows in the U.K., so they were already coming, but headed in two days earlier. Taping that week makes sense, the production crew comes in without a separate trip, announcers already in, and non U.K. based talent was already coming in.

WWE is clearly working with Progress because fans of Progress Wrestling and on their mailing list were told they had a four-hour window to buy tickets today before they went on sale to the public. Any talent who work for Rev Pro who got WWE contracts will be pulled.

Ricky Knight, Paige's father, claimed it was a conspiracy that WWE announced this as it was the day before the biggest weekend in WAW history and he said would hurt their ticket sales in the local market, and also noted that 5/6 and 5/7 were a week before they had booked the same building. Zak said they had an idea why WWE was doing this, but didn't want to say it publicly.

-Fozzy has released tour dates for the month of May with shows beginning May 5th in Virginia Beach with sixteen dates announced for the month. Chris Jericho is being advertised up until the Payback event on April 30th in San Jose, California. It appears Jericho will remain with the company for a few weeks after WrestleMania, but will be touring with his band Fozzy from 5/5 to 5/27.

It appears this will be a short-term departure as Jericho has been pulled from all May shows, but is being advertised for shows in June.

-Bully Ray spoke with Sports Illustrated. He stated that he received a “significant” offer to return to Impact Wrestling but opted against returning. He also noted that the WWE was on board with repackaging Bubba Ray into the Bully Ray character last August but pulled the idea one day prior.

-Adam Copeland and Jay Reso have announced that they will be launching their own podcast on March 24th with new episodes out every Friday.

-The WWE stock closed at $20.26 on Friday.

-The reason for John Cena's post WrestleMania departure from WWE is because he will be in a starring role in the movie, Daddy's Home 2.

In the original, Cena had a cameo in the final minute playing the ex-husband of the wife of the character played by Mark Wahlberg. Deadline reported this morning that the movie will start filming in Boston with Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, John Lithgow, and Linda Cardellini starring along with Cena.

The movie is more about how the characters played by Ferrell and Wahlberg, who were at odds in the first movie, are now best friends working together to raise Walhberg's daughter while Ferrell is married to Wahlberg's ex-wife. The other daughter that Wahlberg is raising, his own stepdaughter, is Cena's.

Cena is scheduled to work through WrestleMania and then has extended time off.

Cena has had an increased presence in Hollywood and pop culture over the last year, hosting Saturday Night Live, hosting the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards this weekend, and appearing in comedies like Trainwreck and Sisters.

-Raw is Monday in Detroit for the final WWE event ever at the Joe Louis Arena. Brock Lesnar will be on the show in some form. Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Enzo & Cass with the winner getting a shot at the tag titles at WrestleMania will be on the card. Bill Goldberg is not scheduled this week. Smackdown has a house show on Monday night in Charleston, WV with John Cena as the headliner.

Smackdown and 205 Live take place on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

-WWE has been contacting women talent for dates in mid-May for a taping for the beginning of a women's tournament on the WWE Network similar to the cruiserweight tournament.

-The annual WWE stockholders meeting will be on 4/20 at the Hilton Stamford Hotel at 10 a.m. Eastern time. All stockholders are invited, but this is not a place to get autographs or anything like that.

-The WWE released how much the top executives earned last year:

Vince McMahon $5,348,624
Michelle Wilson $4,730,377
George Barrios $4,728,291
Paul Levesque $948,113 -- Levesque's total salary for the year was $3,993,417 which includes his income from wrestling.
Kevin Dunn $5,050,727
Shane McMahon's salary as a performer in 2016 was $2,150,000. He was an independent contractor and not an employee.
Stephanie McMahon's total salary as a performer and an executive was about $2,000,000. She earned less than Shane because Shane got paid as a main eventer on a couple of major PPVs.

-Joseph Perkins is retiring from the WWE Board of Directors. Perkins has been with the company since the 1970s and on the board since 1999.

-The WWE cut people from its social media department yesterday. They are merging social media with digital into one department.

-The NHL Tampa Bay Lightning honored Titus O'Neil yesterday as a community hero and they sent a check of $50,000 to a charity in his name.

-So the reason for the Billie Kay worked injury on NXT from Wednesday night is a storyline where Billie Kay & Peyton Royce are demanding that the Eclipse be banned.

-John Cena hosted the Kids' Choice Awards on Nickelodeon.

-Kassius Ohno & Aleister Black reunited their team for at least one night at NXT's house show in Daytona Beach, Florida. The pair were formerly known as "Heroes Eventually Die" when they were Chris Hero & Tommy End on the indies, and took on Bobby Roode & Andrade "Cien" Almas in the main event.

**UPDATES for March 12/17**

-Monday night’s episode of Raw will be the final WWE show at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The arena is closing down at the end of the current NHL season with the new Little Caesars Arena to replace it in the city. The WWE has been running that arena forever with such events as the 1991 and 1999 Survivor Series and 2009 Royal Rumble events taking place from the arena. The WWE has held over 100 events in the arena dating back to December 2nd 1984. Detroit News has a story on the promotion’s history inside the building with comments from Kurt Angle, Jake Roberts and Big Cass.

Tickets for Raw are far from sold out, which isn't a good sign. They haven't been selling out Raw even during Mania season in traditionally strong markets like Detroit, even though this has been pushed as the last show at the Joe Louis Arena. It would be really cool if during the show tomorrow they'd acknowledge it being the last event in the building and do a video highlight of events that were in the arena.

-The next MSG show will be on Friday, 7/7.

-Rusev will be out of action for some time to come. Big Show said that Rusev will be undergoing shoulder surgery. It can't be confirm that as the reason, but he's definitely out of action, which has been known about for a few weeks.

Keep following here for the news leading to WrestleMania, so don't 'cha dare miss it!
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Posted 3/13/17 , edited 3/19/17
The last Raw show from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit happens this week along with other shows. Here the news continues the build towards WrestleMania as well.

General sources are as normally credited to http://www.f4wonline.com/ and http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/news.html and http://fightnetwork.com/ and http://www.411mania.com/wrestling and http://www.pwi-online.com and http://www.thescore.com/trending while please also note that all news and rumours are subject to updates and changes.

NXT TakeOver: Orlando on Saturday, April 1 from Orlando, Florida

Additional Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NXT_TakeOver:_Orlando and http://www.wwe.com/shows/wwenxt

*NXT Championship Match: Bobby Roode (C) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
*NXT Women's Championship Match: Asuka (C) vs. Ember Moon
*Triple Threat Elimination Tag Team Match for the NXT Tag Team Championship: The Authors of Pain (C-Akam & Rezar w/ Paul Ellering) vs. The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) vs. #DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa)

Wrestlemania 33 on Sunday, April 2 from Orlando, Florida

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/wrestlemania and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WrestleMania_33

UPDATED CARD:

Hosted by The New Day (Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston & Big E)

*WWE Universal Championship Match: Goldberg (C) vs. Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman)
*WWE Championship Match: Bray Wyatt (C) vs. Randy Orton
*WWE United States Championship Match: Chris Jericho (C) vs. Kevin Owens
*Triple Threat Match for the WWE Raw Women's Championship: Bayley (C) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair
*The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale
Participants Announced: Mojo Rawley (SmackDown), Apollo Crews (SmackDown), Big Show (Raw), Curt Hawkins (SmackDown)
*Mixed Tag Team Match: John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
*Multi-woman Match for the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship: Alexa Bliss (C) vs. every available SmackDown woman competitor
Challengers Announced: Mickie James, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Carmella
*The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
*Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville (C) vs.Austin Aries
*Triple Threat Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship: The Club (C-Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows) vs. Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Enzo & Big Cass
*AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon

**WWE Hall of Fame Class Presentation (Ceremony on April 1): Kurt Angle (Presenter John Cena), The Rock 'n' Roll Express of Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson (Presenter TBA), Teddy Long (Presenters JBL & Ron Simmons), Diamond Dallas Page (Presenter TBA), Beth Phoenix (Presenter TBA), Rick Rude (Presenter Ricky Steamboat), Eric LeGrand (Warrior Award, Presented TBA)

-It's finally official: The WWE released Jack Swagger effective today. After a couple of weeks where his status was up in the air, the WWE announced on Monday afternoon that Swagger had been released by the company. Their statement:

"WWE has come to terms on the release of Jack Swagger as of today, March 13, 2017. WWE wishes Swagger the best in all his future endeavors"

Swagger initially appeared on the "Beyond the Fight" podcast with Chael Sonnen at the beginning of this month to reveal that he had requested to leave WWE. But the company clarified that Swagger had not yet been released when he started to take outside bookings, including a match against Alberto Del Rio for WAW in the United Kingdom.

When noting that Swagger hadn't yet been granted his release then, the WWE said that Swagger would have a 90-day non-compete clause once he officially left the company where he would get his downside guarantee and wouldn't be able to wrestle for other promotions during that period

-The WWE announced today that Eric LeGrand, a former standout for the Rutgers University football team turned motivational speaker, has been named the recipient of the third annual Warrior Award. Here's a little from the press release:

"LeGrand was a key player on the Rutgers University football team before a spinal cord injury he sustained during a game in October 2010 left him paralyzed from the neck down. LeGrand’s tremendous courage and unwavering strength throughout his rehabilitation captured the attention of the nation. He resumed his college classes via Skype and also launched his sports broadcasting career as an analyst for Rutgers Football Radio Network. LeGrand founded the charity Team LeGrand of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation in 2013 and is now a highly sought-after motivational speaker. In support of LeGrand’s mission to raise funds for research to find a cure for paralysis and to help improve the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries, WWE will be making a $25,000 donation to Team LeGrand."

The news was first reported by ESPN on Monday. In an interview with ESPN, LeGrand said that it was Paul "Triple H" Levesque who told him that he would be receiving the award.

"Paul's assistant sent me an email on Tuesday saying Paul wanted to talk and wanted to schedule a call for Thursday," LeGrand said. "So I'm sitting here for two days wondering what Triple H wants to say to me. My heart was racing for two days wondering what this was all about. When he called me, he explained the award to me and what they do at WrestleMania, and then he told me at the end that they want to present the award to me, and I honestly didn't know what to say. I didn't know how to react. This was incredible as someone who grew up as a fan since I was a little kid."

LeGrand will be the third person to receive the award that was founded in 2015 to honor the legacy of The Ultimate Warrior. Connor Michalek, a WWE fan who had battled cancer and was eight years old when he passed away, and Joan Lunden were previously honored.

The Warrior Award is given to someone who "lives life with the courage and compassion that embodies the indomitable spirit of The Ultimate Warrior" and is a spin-off of an idea that The Ultimate Warrior mentioned during his Hall of Fame induction speech before he passed away, where he spoke of wanting WWE to honor integral employees who worked behind the scenes.

-A couple of deaths to report on. Journeyman Dennis Stamp just passed away this morning from cancer. He passed away today at the age of 68.

Stamp was an amateur wrestling star in both high school and college in Minnesota and broke in under Verne Gagne and was named the 1971 AWA Rookie of the Year.

He worked a number of territories through the 70s, and was best known in West Texas, where the promotion favoured legitimate wrestlers. He also had a good run in California. His full-time career ended with the death of the Amarillo territory, but he worked through the 80s as an enhancement talent on both WWF and AWA television shows.

He retired and worked at a pest control company. He was first diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and was not given a good prognosis. But he defeated the cancer, which came back in September.

In the movie "Beyond the Mat," Stamp was shown talking with Terry Funk, hoping to be booked on the show with Funk's so-called 1997 retirement match in Amarillo against Bret Hart, who was then the WWF champion. He was mad about not being booked, even though he hadn't wrestled in years. Eventually he was booked as the referee of the match. He gained some cult popularity from that movie with the phrase "I'm not booked" and the shots of him training in case he gets called for a match, even though he hadn't wrestled in years.

Stamp was a solid worker who held titles in a number of promotions during the 70s.

Larry Gibson, the little person who was Cheezy in Jerry Lawler's Survivor Series tag team years ago, has also died; details are still sketchy, but his death has been confirmed by his sons.

-As noted, the company has run the Joe Louis Arena building regularly since 1984 but the arena is closing down at the end of the current NHL season with the new Little Caesar’s Arena opening up.

Brock Lesnar is scheduled for tonight’s show and is on all of the Raw episodes leading into WrestleMania. Bill Goldberg is not advertised tonight and his next appearance is scheduled for the “go home” show before WrestleMania.

Tonight’s show will also feature a #1 contender’s match with Enzo & Big Cass taking on Sheamus & Cesaro.

-A new episode of “Bring it to the Table” will air on the WWE Network following tonight’s Raw. The show will feature Corey Graves, JBL and Peter Rosenberg. Let's see if they can avoid making everyone mad by blowing off any and all company criticism tonight. The show will also feature the return of Kurt Angle to the WWE Network as they taped an interview with him about a week ago to air as part of this show.

-The Smackdown crew is in Charleston, West Virginia tonight with John Cena working the show.

-The WWE officially announced The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns for WrestleMania today, as anticipated.

-The WWE has announced NXT dates for April 13th in Atlanta, April 14th in Spartanburg and April 15th in Charlotte, North Carolina.

-It is confirmed that Rusev had shoulder surgery last week. There were rumors going around he'd be out of action for a while, but WWE officials confirmed it was shoulder surgery. Cedric Alexander is also out of action with a right knee injury. Pro Wrestling Sheet first reported the Alexander news.

-John Cena will receive the Action Star of the Year award from CinemaCon at their CinemaCon convention 3/27 to 3/30 in Las Vega. He'll be presented with the award on 3/30 at The Colosseum at Caesar's Palace. The guy is going places. Cena was on The Today Show earlier today with Nikki Bella talking about the Kids' Choice Awards that he hosted on Saturday night. He was in New York this morning for the show, spoke at SXSW in Austin, TX today as well. Then he's advertised for the house show tonight in Charleston, WV and scheduled for Pittsburgh tomorrow.

Take a look at John Cena’s schedule over the past few days: He hosted the aforementioned Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards on Saturday night, went to Madison Square Garden for the WWE house show Sunday afternoon, he was in Austin today for an appearance at SXSW as noted and then in Charleston for a house show tonight and Pittsburgh on Tuesday for the Smackdown tapings.

-The WWE will air a one hour edited version of the Hall of Fame show at 11:05 p.m. on the Monday after WrestleMania, which should do great ratings since the Raw that night is likely to be the most-watched Raw of the year.

-Advertised locally for Raw tonight is Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman, Chris Jericho & Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens & Samoa Joe and Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Enzo & Cass with the winners getting a WrestleMania title match. That doesn't mean these matches will take place, only that is what is being advertised.

-Former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts' book about his time with the promotion called "Best Seat in the House" will be released on 4/1. He will be doing an autograph signing with Tommy Dreamer on 4/1 in Orlando at the Barnes & Nobles at Plaza Venezia. It's a look at WWE behind the scenes in a different way than any book that has come out has done. It is fair and honest.

-With Smackdown in Pittsburgh tomorrow, we'll see if the usual strong crowds for the show continue. Pittsburgh usually draws well, but has a rep for not being very responsive. There are wrestlers who have talked management into delaying angles by a week in the past because it was Pittsburgh and they were afraid it wouldn't get a good reaction.

-The WWE Jetsons movie called "Robo-WrestleMania" will come out tomorrow.

-A fatal five-way will happen on 205 Live to decide who faces the Cruiserweight champion Neville at WrestleMania between Austin Aries, TJ Perkins, Akira Tozawa, Tony Nese and The Brian Kendrick.

-Next week Chris Jericho will host the Highlight Reel to show the real Kevin Owens, and Roman Reigns faces Braun Strowman again on Raw from the site of Summerslam this year Brooklyn, NY.

**UPDATES for March 14/17**

-Regarding the “Outlaw” Ron Bass graphic it was posted on the WWE’s Twitter feed at the start of Raw and announcing that Raw was dedicated to Bass. The graphic did not air on television.

-The WWE will be doing a live edition of “Bring it to the Table” on Thursday March 30th from the Citrus Bowl in Orlando with Peter Rosenberg, JBL and Corey Graves. The show will air on the WWE Network that evening. They also mentioned on Monday’s show that a future edition of “24” on Kurt Angle will be coming to the network. A clip of Kurt Angle meeting with Vince McMahon for the first time in over a decade was shown.

-Bring it to the Table last night actually insinuated the Wrestling Observer Awards where Mauro Ranello was chosen as best commentator by a ballot written in process, yet JBL and the WWE called it "an online poll" without naming the site and Dave Meltzer yet showed the listing at https://twitter.com/EmperorBigD/status/841493328231321602 noted by Wrestling Observer's Bryan Alvarez at https://twitter.com/bryanalvarez with also talk how "Best Commentator" Observer Award isn't as prestigious as JBL's "Favorite Web Show" 2013 Slammy. @davemeltzerWON @bryanalvarez.

-The WWE stock closed at $20.26 on Tuesday.

-On SmackDown after a backstage attack on Shane McMahon, Daniel Bryan fired AJ Styles. Then assuming he's rehired for the match, Shane McMahon at the end of the show made a match between them for WrestleMania.

-Big Show was confirmed as an entrant in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, which would likely mean that his match against Shaquille O'Neal is now definitely off.

-AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, Apollo Crews, Mojo Rawley, and Natalya visited the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh today.

-Shawn Michaels spoke to Sports Illustrated's Justin Barrasso about WrestleMania, Kurt Angle, and the Kliq.

-Deadline has an article about television networks being upset about the delay in ratings, which was caused by power failure at Nielsen's data center. The power failure delayed the ratings for last night's Raw and likely will for SmackDown as well.

**UPDATES for March 15/17**

-Hulk Hogan opened a second Hogan's Beach Shop in Orlando, on International Drive, just in time for WrestleMania in town.

-The WWE has announced that NXT will be doing a one-week tour of the U.K. in June. They will be running June 5th in Aberdeen, Scotland; June 6th in Manchester, England; June 7th in Leeds; June 8th in Brighton and then will be part of the Download Festival from June 9th – 11th. The poster features Bobby Roode, Asuka, Aleister Black, Kassius Ohno, Eric Young, Tye Dillinger, Alexander Wolfe, Nikki Cross and Killian Dane. It was notable that Shinsuke Nakamura is not on the poster.

-Mauro Ranallo missed the WWE tapings in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night due to weather issues with the storm. David Otunga was also not at the tapings because he was filming a movie. This left Tom Phillips and JBL to call Smackdown and Phillips and Corey Graves calling 205 Live.

-After all of the promotion regarding the WWE’s long history with Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, a commemorative t-shirt being sold on Monday night and farewell videos from talent – the company is actually returning to the arena on July 29th for a Smackdown house show.

-The WWE stock closed at $20.53 on Wednesday.

-Io Shirai, the current World of Stardom Champion, is the top name at this week’s WWE tryouts at the Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.

WWE.com posted an article about Shirai trying out that has since been taken down.

It has been known for a while that Shirai, one of the top wrestlers in the Stardom promotion in Japan, was on WWE’s radar. Dave Meltzer reported in the October 31st, 2016 edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that both she and fellow Stardom star Kairi Hojo had been offered deals to start with WWE in 2017.

It was later reported that both had decided to stay. However, in last week’s Observer, Meltzer wrote that Hojo had signed a three-year contract with WWE, telling Stardom she was leaving in April. He also noted that Shirai was reconsidering coming in as well. After posting an article about Io Shirai being at this week's Performance Center tryouts, WWE.com took it down and replaced it with one that doesn't mention Shirai at all.

Other names at this week’s tryouts are:

*Ingrid “Kira” Hogtun and Kamilla “Natasja” Tjöstland (independent wrestlers from Norway)
*Delilah Doom (Texas-based independent wrestler)
*Chik Tormenta (independent wrestler from Mexico)
*Katsiaryna Kavaleva (championship kickboxer/MMA fighter from Belarus)
*Jaime Espinal (Dominican-born Olympic freestyle wrestler that represented Puerto Rico in 2012)
*Wes Brisco (former FCW developmental talent, son of Gerald Brisco and nephew of Jack Brisco)

-AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon hasn't officially been announced yet, with WWE continuing the storyline of whether the match will happen or not a bit longer. The angle continued after SmackDown went off the air last night as Daniel Bryan said on Talking Smack that he wasn't sure Shane was in the right mind to decide to face Styles at WrestleMania.

-The WWE posted an interesting teaser for "Southpaw Regional Wrestling," which appears to be a parody show based on territorial wrestling.

-Stephanie McMahon appeared on Xavier Woods' UpUpDownDown YouTube series to celebrate the channel reaching 1,000,000 subscribers.

**UPDATES for March 16/17**

-Wrestling Observer reports that the initial plan already for WrestleMania 34 is for a main event for the WWE Universal Championship or the WWE Championship between a champion Brock Lesnar and challenger Roman Reigns. Similar to a previous attempt, this could mean Brock holding onto the championship the entire year unless someone wins it from him to be a transition champion for Lesnar to win it betore WrestleMania 34. With Lesnar's contract reworked and no more UFC bouts due to the retirement via a drug suspension, his new deal has more appearances than the last one and post-WrestleMania there are plans to use him more on TV and less at any house shows or dark matches.

Roman Reigns meanwhile the plan is still to keep him face for all of this and next year because there are no plans to turn him heel unless a top babyface arises that they push, like when they turned the Rock they had Stone Cold Steve Austin to be the top face and right now nobody is looked to be ahead of Reigns on either show for top babyface role.

-The WWE announced on Thursday afternoon that John Cena would be doing the honors. Cena debuted in WWE against Angle by answering an open challenge on SmackDown in June 2002, where Cena was portrayed as putting up a good fight before losing to Angle.

After it was announced that he would be headlining the 2017 Hall of Fame class, Angle spoke to Sports Illustrated's Justin Barrasso and called it a "no-brainer" for Steve Austin to induct him.

Angle later appeared on Live Audio Wrestling with John Pollock, where he said the decision wasn't up to him but believed WWE would listen to his input. He mentioned Austin, The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, and Cena as potential choices.

The Hall of Fame ceremony will take place on March 31st at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida over WrestleMania weekend.

-Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was announced today as the host of NBC's Saturday Night Live for the fifth time on May 20th.

Johnson will join the "Five-Timers Club," a list of elite level celebrities that the show itself first started promoting in 1990.

The club list at this point that Johnson will join consists of Ben Affleck, Alec Baldwin, Drew Barrymore, Candice Bergen, Chevy Chase, Danny DeVito, Tina Fey, John Goodman, Elliott Gould, Tom Hanks, Buck Henry, Scarlett Johansson, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Paul Simon, Justin Timberlake, and Christopher Walken.

Also noted is that the show itself is changing next month where it will air live nationwide. The West Coast since the inception of the show has gotten a feed to air at 11:30 p.m. local time after the news. However, SNL will move to 8:30 p.m. on the West Coast five weeks before Johnson hosts the show.

The episode that Johnson is hosting will be the season finale.

-Raw on Monday was up less than one percent from the previous week to 3.23 million viewers, but the change in viewing patterns due to Daylight Savings Time were felt immediately.

The first hour, which had been the highest rated for months, was the lowest rated this past week. That is part of traditional patterns so you really can't read anything into it. Because of that, with viewers coming in late, the third hour decline was less than in previous weeks, although hour three was down four percent from hour two.

Ratings were delayed by two days due to a power outage at Nielsen over the weekend and they have been playing catchup all week.

Raw was second for the night on cable, trailing only the O'Reilly Factor, which did 3.48 million viewers.

The third hour audience was greater than the first hour in every demo except viewers over the age of 50, which make up a substantial portion of the total audience.

The three hours were:

8 p.m. 3.18 million viewers
9 p.m. 3.32 million viewers
10 p.m. 3.20 million viewers

-There were 80,709 fans through the turnstiles at AT&T Stadium for WrestleMania 32 says the Arlington, TX police department.

-Ticketmaster has just opened up more tickets for the 4/4 Smackdown show at the Amway Arena in Orlando after WrestleMania, that had been sold out.

-John Cena will be on the Tonight show on 3/22 to push WrestleMania.

**UPDATES from March 17/17**

-The WWE announced today that JBL and Ron Simmons will the ones to induct Teddy Long into the Hall of Fame on March 31st in Orlando, Florida. On Thursday, they announced that John Cena would the one to induct Kurt Angle and had previously announced that Ricky Steamboat will induct Rick Rude.

-The Smackdown show on Tuesday averaged 2,628,000 viewers on the USA Network. The number was down 110,000 viewers from last week but was still the fourth highest episode of the year. The big winner on cable Tuesday night was MSNBC with 4.13 million people watching the Rachel Maddow Show with the 2005 Trump tax returns they teased ahead of time.

-The Raw crew is in Syracuse, New York tonight and then in Allentown, Pennsylvania on Saturday. Finn Balor is advertised for both shows. The Smackdown crew starts Saturday night in Albany, New York with John Cena on the show.

-It was noted earlier this week by Dave Meltzer that Mauro Ranallo didn’t miss the Smackdown tapings because of the weather (that was the reason given on television). Nobody knows the real reason he wasn’t there, but following Tuesday and Ranallo being silent on Twitter, a pair of sources close to him that he is okay, for those concerned.

-The team producing the Andre the Giant documentary has brought Pat Laprade on board to serve as the historian for the project. Laprade co-authored the excellent “Mad Dogs, Midgets and Screwjobs” book with Bertrand Hebert in 2013 along with the biography on Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon and also has a book coming out on the history of women’s wrestling with ECW Press. The Andre the Giant documentary was officially announced earlier this year and is being produced by HBO Sports, the WWE and the Bill Simmons Media Group.

-The WWE stock closed at $21.09 on Friday.

-Tinashe will be performing "America the Beautiful" at WrestleMania.

-"Moana" with Dwayne Johnson was the best selling DVD of the past week.

-The company was nominated for some Social Media Shorty awards. The award winners will be announced on 4/23 in New York:

Best in Entertainment - WWE and WrestleMania
Best Integration with Live TV - WWE
Best Overall YouTube Presence - WWE
Best Use of Comedy - John Cena Prank on the Cricket Wireless ad
Best Brand Identity - Xavier Woods UpUpDownDown

-With the news about Io Shirai and Kairi Hojo and WWE, Stardom announced Shirai vs. Hojo for the World of Stardom championship at Noon on Monday at Korakuen Hall. The last singles match the two had was a killer.

**UPDATES for March 18/17**

-Paige tweeted a statement yesterday about the adult-themed photos and videos of her that have been leaked online:

"Personal and private photos of mine were stolen and unfortunately they were shared publicly without my consent."

Paige's mother (wrestler Saraya Knight) also posted a message of support for her daughter:

"People get hacked, unfortunately my daughter had pics and video shared from years ago, my husband and I support her 100% no fault of her own."

The leaked photos and videos have also linked former WWE star Brad Maddox and current WWE talent Xavier Woods being in the acts.

-The WWE released the first four episodes of "Southpaw Regional Wrestling," which is a WWE.com video series that parodies old territorial wrestling.

-Kurt Angle spoke to Fox Sports about how WWE has changed, the Hall of Fame, and John Cena being the person to induct him.

-Zack Ryder launched a new YouTube series.

-FoxNews.com interviewed Cody Rhodes for a video piece on his journey in wrestling after leaving WWE.

-Steve Austin recorded an episode of his podcast with Adam Cole that will be released next week.

**UPDATES for March 19/17**

-Most likely the New Day do another New Day Talks segment pre-taped backstage this week on Raw.

-Xavier Woods did not work the Friday and Saturday house shows in New York but that was because he was already scheduled to host the SXSW Gaming Awards. The fact he wasn't pulled from that event would at least seem to indicate WWE is not taking him off the road.

-Mick Foley was a guest on Chris Jericho’s “Talk is Jericho” show on Friday and there were lots of interesting notes within the discussion. The interview was taped last Monday prior to Raw at the Joe Louis Arena, which Foley noted he had a major show coming up that night with the show largely built around Foley and the firing segment to close the show. Foley hinted that this could be his last week and would make sense from a storyline perspective that he is officially written off with Monday’s Raw in Brooklyn. Foley also added that Vince McMahon seemed locked with the idea of Stephanie turning on Foley last August with Triple H returning and assisting Kevin Owens. Foley and Stephanie both pitched an alternative idea (with Stephanie pleading ignorance to Hunter’s involvement and Foley opting to trust Stephanie and culminating with last week’s line of Stephanie being a very good liar and very bad person). They went so far that Foley and Stephanie shot a segment involving the two to show Vince and then Vince reluctantly allowed them to have their way, and without saying it, Foley basically extended his time as General Manager when it was only going to be a one-month role.

When the two were discussing the criticism they receive for the quality of the show or angles they are involved with, they noted how it’s often not their ideas and they are carrying out a direction with Vince as the final editor. Jericho added that when he distracted Kevin Owens (at Fast Lane) to cause Owens to lose such a short match that it wasn’t his idea. Foley also noted that he isn’t aware how the payoffs have changed for the talent since the launch of the WWE Network and Jericho said “well there’s no pay-per-view anymore so that tells you all you need to know about how payoffs are, it’s different now”.

-Raw will be Monday night in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center with Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman advertised, plus a Chris Jericho Highlight Reel and locally advertised is Jericho & Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens & Samoa Joe. SmackDown's Monday night house show will be in Worcester, MA.

SmackDown & 205 Live will be taped on Tuesday night in Uncasville, CT at the Mohegan Sun Casino.

-The WWE/Snickers tie in is getting stronger. On the WWE Network, there are Bayley and Rusev TV commercials for Snickers.

More news leading to WrestleMania is coming, so don't 'cha dare miss it!
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Posted 3/20/17 , edited 3/26/17
Here are the news and notes for this week.

General sources are as normally credited to http://www.f4wonline.com/ and http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/news.html and http://fightnetwork.com/ and http://www.411mania.com/wrestling and http://www.pwi-online.com and http://www.thescore.com/trending while please also note that all news and rumours are subject to updates and changes.

NXT TakeOver: Orlando on Saturday, April 1 from Orlando, Florida

Additional Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NXT_TakeOver:_Orlando and http://www.wwe.com/shows/wwenxt

*NXT Championship Match: Bobby Roode (C) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
*NXT Women's Championship Match: Asuka (C) vs. Ember Moon
*Triple Threat Elimination Tag Team Match for the NXT Tag Team Championship: The Authors of Pain (C-Akam & Rezar w/ Paul Ellering) vs. The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) vs. #DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa)
*Aleister Black vs. Andrade "Cien" Almas
*Eight-Person Mixed Tag Team Match: SAnitY (Eric Young, Killian Dane, Alexander Wolfe & Nikki Cross) vs. Tye Dillinger, No Way Jose, Roderick Strong & Ruby Riot

Wrestlemania 33 on Sunday, April 2 from Orlando, Florida

Additional Sources: http://www.wwe.com/shows/wrestlemania and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WrestleMania_33

UPDATED CARD:

Hosted by The New Day (Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston & Big E)
Theme Songs: "Greenlight" by Pitbull featuring Flo Rida and LunchMoney Lewis and "Like a Champion" by Danger Twins
America the Beautiful sung by Tinashe

*WWE Universal Championship Match: Goldberg (C) vs. Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman)
*WWE Championship Match: Bray Wyatt (C) vs. Randy Orton
*WWE United States Championship Match: Chris Jericho (C) vs. Kevin Owens
*Fatal Four-Way Match for the WWE Raw Women's Championship: Bayley (C) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Nia Jax
*The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale
Participants Announced: Mojo Rawley (SmackDown), Apollo Crews (SmackDown), Big Show (Raw), Curt Hawkins (SmackDown)
*Mixed Tag Team Match: John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
*Multi-woman Match for the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship: Alexa Bliss (C) vs. every available SmackDown woman competitor
Challengers Announced: Mickie James, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Carmella
*The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
*Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville (C) vs.Austin Aries
*Triple Threat Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship: The Club (C-Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows) vs. Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Enzo & Big Cass
*AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon
*Intercontinental Championship Match: Dean Ambrose (C) vs. Baron Corbin
*Non-Sanctioned Match: Seth Rollins vs. Triple H

**WWE Hall of Fame Class Presentation (Ceremony on April 1): Kurt Angle (Presenter John Cena), The Rock 'n' Roll Express of Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson (Presenter Jim Cornette), Teddy Long (Presenters JBL & Ron Simmons), Diamond Dallas Page (Presenter Eric Bischoff), Beth Phoenix (Presenter Natalya), Rick Rude (Presenter Ricky Steamboat), Eric LeGrand (Warrior Award, Presenter Dana Warrior)
**Legacy inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame: Rikidozan, Judy Grable, Joseph “Toots” Mondt, Martin “Farmer” Burns, Luther Lindsay, Dr. Jerry Graham, June Byers, Haystacks Calhoun

-Tonight’s episode of Raw takes place from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York for the penultimate Raw before WrestleMania. Brock Lesnar will be on the show tonight and they are advertising a rematch between Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman as well as a Highlight Reel segment with Chris Jericho and the “real” Kevin Owens.

-The Undertaker has been rumoured to have been seen backstage tonight for Raw as well. Undertaker was expected to be at the last two Raw's before WrestleMania which is this week and next week but was not advertised for tonight.

-The Smackdown crew has a house show in Worcester, Massachusetts tonight with John Cena vs. AJ Styles in a “Worcester Street Fight” being advertised for the main event. Randy Orton is also working tonight’s event.

-The WWE announced Monday that Jim Cornette will induct the Rock ‘n Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) into the WWE Hall of Fame on Friday March 31st in Orlando, Florida. It is no secret that the WWE and Cornette have been at odds for the last 12 years since Cornette’s release from the company and it was doubtful Cornette and the company would ever do business together again. He tweeted about the news:

"Wear your winter clothes to Florida! A cold snap is headed towards Hell!"

It would be really cool if they are able to get members of the Midnight Express to attend the event for a similar moment to last year’s event with The Freebirds and Kevin Von Erich.

“By any standard, Ricky and Robert belong in the Hall of Fame,” Cornette said in an interview with WWE.com. “And that’s whether it's longevity as a team, the attendance records they set, or the great matches that they had, which fans can still see on WWE Network.”

It was obviously the right move for the circumstances. Cornette had made it clear he was never against doing it so it wasn't as if they had to talk him into it. It was always the WWE's call.

The WWE hasn't yet revealed who will be inducting Diamond Dallas Page and Beth Phoenix into the Hall of Fame. Ricky Steamboat will induct Rick Rude, John Cena will induct Kurt Angle, and John "Bradshaw" Layfield & Ron Simmons will induct Teddy Long. Dana Warrior will also present Eric LeGrand with the Warrior Award.

The 2017 Hall of Fame ceremony will take place on March 31st at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.

-Ricky Knight, the father of Paige, posted a message regarding the problems his daughter is currently going through following her phone being hacked and photos and a video being posted online:

"My last say on the scandal surrounding my daughter I have just spoken to her over facebook and I am worried for her mental health or worse ffs world get a grip she has not killed anyone robbed anyone she was having sex in a private situation between consulting adults and then has been betrayed by some low lifes as her dad I urge people to back off as I say I am very worried for her it will be no good backing her when its too late like many other celebrities who have left us."

-The WWE has announced that American Alpha will defend the tag titles against The Usos on Tuesday night’s episode of Smackdown in Uncasville, Connecticut. The outcome of this match should make it clear whether or not they will get a spot on the WrestleMania card. SmackDown always has one match before the taping to get the crowd in its seats for the beginning of the show, and one match after 205 Live that is pushed during the entire show at the arena to keep people from leaving after SmackDown ends.

-The WWE Network had added a handful of NXT episodes from 2012 and 2013, which obviously features a lot of talent that is now heavily featured on the main roster.

-Big Show (Paul Wight) will be a guest on The Conan O’Brien Show on Wednesday night at 11pm Eastern on TBS.

-Tonight's Raw at the Barclays Center is legitimately sold out. The next three Raws are all a lock to be sold out.

-The WWE announced that Shinsuke Nakamura would be on the June tour of the U.K. He was not originally scheduled for the tour. Nakamura is also scheduled for NXT house shows after WrestleMania. That doesn't necessarily mean anything but being added to an overseas tour as late as June would be a surprise if he was to be touring on the main roster.

-There has been nothing on Finn Balor returning to television. He is on the road and worked every show this weekend on the Raw side.

-Kurt Angle talked to the Sporting News about meeting Vince McMahon for the first time in 11 years and his return to WWE.

-The company will be releasing a new cut of the WWE 24 special on the Raw after WrestleMania on DVD and BluRay tomorrow.

-After the hype that the last show at the Joe Louis Arena would be WWE's final show in the building, which is closing later this year, they have just announced a 7/29 house show there. Actually that was announced in the building last week.

-Mick Foley was fired as Raw GM this week.

-One more time on 205 Live, Neville and the challenger to his Cruiserweight Championship Austin Aries have another encounter.

-For next week's go-home Raw show in Philadelphia, Brock Lesnar and Goldberg will meet face to face while Triple H will have ready for Seth Rollins a a hold harmless agreement with an indemnification clause to book a non-sanctioned match for WrestleMania.

**UPDATES for March 21/17**

-Jan Ross, the wife of former WWE announcer Jim Ross, was involved in a horrible accident on Monday after being struck while driving a Vespa in Norman, Oklahoma. Ross was on her way to the gym and was hit a 2000 Mercury Grand Marquis, according to a report from TMZ. Ross suffered multiple skull fractures and was not wearing a helmet. Ross posted a statement online and said they needed a miracle.

Jim Ross tweeted late last night, "My wife Jan, my little angel, was hit while rising her Vespa and has multiple skull fractures. She's in surgery now. We need a miracle."

The Norman, OK, police department reported that Jan Ross was driving at 9:33 p.m. when she was struck from behind by a 2000 Mercury Grand Marquis driven by a 17-year-old and was thrown from her Vespa. The car and her scooter caught fire.

Jan was going to the gym, and was not wearing her helmet, and landed on her head causing multiple skull fractures. She was listed in critical condition before surgery.

Jim has talked and written extensively over the years about his wife, who is one of the nicest and sweetest people I've known in this industry. When he was the head of talent relations in WWE for years, she was considered the ultimate coach's wife, which is not the easiest role in the world because of the 24/7 nature of that job. She was a flight attendant who met Jim when he was working at WCW in the early 90s.

JBL did a shout out during SmackDown sending best wishes for a recovery.

-TMZ.com is reporting that Vince McMahon banged up his Bentley near the WWE office in Stamford, CT. Vince McMahon was involved in a car accident on Tuesday morning that was described on TMZ as a “minor accident and everyone is okay”. McMahon was in a Bentley and the car was damaged as a result of the collision. There were photos online of McMahon walking after the crash and appears to be fine. The crash occurred about a mile away from WWE headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut.

On the 911 call, someone who witnessed the accident noted that the other car was a Toyota Camry. McMahon can briefly be heard on the audio when he was asked what type of car he was driving.

The witness called it a "big" accident and both cars seemed to be significantly damaged.

A poster on Reddit's SquaredCircle community also posted news of McMahon's accident, screenshotting a Facebook post from their wife's cousin who had seen it.

After Raw took place in Brooklyn, New York last night, the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut will host tonight's episode of SmackDown. The venue isn't far from WWE headquarters.

-A couple of days after WWE superstar Paige's personal and intimate photos and videos were released after a cellphone hack, other current and former WWE female superstars appear to have been targeted as well. Pictures are now circulating of Summer Rae, Kaitlyn, Victoria, Maria Kanellis, and Melina, allegedly from the same person who hacked Paige's cellphone.

-Rogers Canada has sent a letter out to WWE Network subscribers, advising them that the monthly fee for the channel is increasing from $11.99 to $12.99.

-The WWE announced on Tuesday that Eric Bischoff will be the one to induct Diamond Dallas Page into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31st in Orlando. The two have been good friends for a long time and lived close to one another during Page’s time in WCW. There was definitely criticism at one time that Page’s push was a result of his friendship with Bischoff, however Page became a solid babyface in 1997 through his program with Randy Savage and was legitimately one of WCW’s top stars throughout their peak in 1997 and 1998. By the time he got the WCW title in April 1999, WCW was headed downward and there were few people at that time who were likely to reverse course and Page was hardly champion for a significant period of time. He dropped the title twice within the span of a month and was moved down the card, forming The Triad with Bam Bam Bigelow and Chris Kanyon. Bischoff has been on good terms with the WWE ever since leaving TNA few years back and did a sit down interview on “Legends with JBL” in 2015 along with a DVD / Blu Ray release that he was heavily involved with.

“I’m honored,” Bischoff said about inducting Page. “It puts a smile on my face because I know how much it means to him. This is the Holy Grail for him.”

“His journey [in life] is similar to his journey in the ring,” Bischoff said. “DDP was the common guy, the everyman, a blue-collar guy from New Jersey. He represented something that the average person could believe in, in a way that was a little unique. [People thought] ‘That could be me. If I could just get that break, work a little harder, I could be that guy.’ That’s a very inspirational quality to have.”

The WWE hasn't yet confirmed who will be inducting Beth Phoenix, but all other members of the company's 2017 Hall of Fame class are accounted for.

-Nia Jax was added to the Raw women’s title match at WrestleMania following Monday’s Raw. This was a recent change made and not something that had been the long-term idea. Given what the match had ended up as, the finishes at Fast Lane are even more puzzling with Charlotte’s streak ending and Banks defeating Jax. The women need a really strong segment on next week’s show as this match has little buzz and that’s solely on the booking of these characters and resulting in all four being less over than they were months back.

-The WWE has announced that talent from 205 Live and the U.K tournament are going to be joined by talent from PROGRESS and Insane Championship Wrestling for matches at WWE Axxess during WrestleMania weekend. This move comes off as a direct response to the amount of non-WWE shows going on in the area that weekend and an attempt to lure fans away from spending money on non-WWE events. Of those that WWE is advertising, Jimmy Havoc, Mark Haskins, the South Pacific Power Trip (TK Cooper, Travis Banks & Dahlia Black), Toni Storm, and Jinny are from outside of the company. They will be in Orlando for the show PROGRESS is running on March 31st, which is part of WWN's weekend of events.

They have announced the following matches for the various Axxess sessions:

*Thursday March 30th: Rich Swann vs. Brian Kendrick; TJ Perkins vs. Drew Gulak; Hideo Itami in action
*Friday March 31st: Tyler Bate vs. Mark Haskins for the U.K. title; Pete Dunne vs. Mark Andrews (it’s a weird environment to do at Axxess but has potential to be one of the best matches of the weekend); Jimmy Havoc, TK Cooper, Travis Banks, Dahlia Black, Toni Storm and Jinny are also being advertised for this session
*Saturday April 1st at 8am: Akira Tozawa (pending passport retrieval) vs. Ariya Daivari; Pete Dunne vs. Wolfgang; Tyler Bate vs. Joseph Connors for the U.K. title
*Saturday April 1st at 1pm: The Vaudevillains vs. Heavy Machinery; The Ascension vs. Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss; plus Liv Morgan and Daria Berenato
*Saturday April 1st at 6pm: Akira Tozawa vs. Steve Cutler; Trent Seven vs. Noam Dar; TJ Perkins & Mustafa Ali vs. Riddick Moss & Tino Sabbatelli
*Sunday April 2nd: Trent Seven vs. Wolfgang; Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne for the UK title

-Just in time for WrestleMania 33, WWE has teamed up with Puma to create a line of shoes and apparel to be sold exclusively through Foot Locker.

The line, designed by Alexander-John, includes a special capsule collection of Puma Clydes featuring the images of WWE legends "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Ultimate Warrior, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Andre the Giant, and the Undertaker on the insoles. The shoes will retail for $199.

Additionally, 23 all-black pairs featuring Undertaker imagery - packaged in a casket-style shoe box - will be sold in Orlando for $499.

Photos can be seen at http://www.thescore.com/news/1260388-wwe-partners-with-puma-foot-locker-on-sneaker-line

-Last night's Raw broke the record for the lowest audience to watch the show since 1997 on a night when they weren't facing major sports competition or it being a major holiday, with 3.04 million viewers.

The previous record low outside of shows during football season, or going against either the NBA playoffs or the Olympics was 3.07 million viewers for the February 13th show.

What's bad is that leading up to WrestleMania, and before the NBA playoffs, ratings are often at their highest marks of the year. Still, part of this was the state of television, as Raw was second to the O'Reilly Factor on cable which did 3.56 million viewers.

Dancing with the Stars can't be seen as the reason because there was a big third hour drop, and that's after Dancing with the Stars ended. Interestingly, this was an audience that declined throughout the show, as opposed to the late arriving audience which is usually the case this time of year.

In particular, women tuned out heavily in the third hour. The show was built around a Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman main event, promoted for the entire week. Undertaker appeared at the end of the show, but was not advertised. Brock Lesnar was there, but only appeared in a dark segment.

The three hours were:

8 p.m. 3.16 million viewers
9 p.m. 3.12 million viewers
10 p.m. 2.87 million viewers

-Triple H did a media tour on ESPN today to promote WrestleMania:

*Triple H talked about how WWE recruits from the NFL and internationally.
*Peter Rosenberg interviewed Triple H on the Cheap Heat podcast.
*Triple H appeared on First Take.
*Triple H gave an update on Big Show vs. Shaquille O'Neal.
*Triple H discussed his WrestleMania 28 Hell in a Cell match against The Undertaker.

-ESPN will again be covering WrestleMania this year.

-The WWE posted a teaser for upcoming WWE 24 specials, which will be focused on Finn Balor, Goldberg, the 2016 Raw after WrestleMania, and Kurt Angle.

-Goldberg will be the first guest on Edge & Christian's new podcast.

-Charlotte Flair was interviewed on Pix 11 in New York.

-Natalya spoke to Sports Illustrated about WrestleMania and her family.

-Roman Reigns was a guest on the Boomer & Carton show yesterday.

-Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots was shown at ringside at SmackDown.

-Luke Harper takes on Bray Wyatt next week on the go home show for SmackDown before WrestleMania.

-Shane McMahon will be the special guest with Jonathan Coachman on ESPN Sportscentre tomorrow.

**UPDATES for March 23/17**

-Jim Ross posted the sad news at https://twitter.com/JRsBBQ about the passing of his wife Jan. Stories about it can be found at http://slam.canoe.com/Slam/Wrestling/2017/03/22/22712442.html and http://www.f4wonline.com/other-wrestling/jim-ross-my-little-angel-gone-232261

-There’s a new trailer for the upcoming Baywatch movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

-Word is that a new WWE stable is under consideration and may be forming after WrestleMania. The rogue group of disgruntled talent rebelling against both Raw and Smackdown Live management could be comprised of Sami Zayn, AJ Styles, captained by Seth Rollins with a fourth unnamed member. The group's angle will be that they feel they have been mistreated by management so they have banded together to "fight the power".

-WWE continued to make Hall of Fame announcements on Wednesday by revealing that Natalya would be inducting Beth Phoenix.

The two are good friends and teamed together in the ring before Phoenix retired.

“There’s nobody that I can think of that deserves to be in the WWE Hall of Fame more than Beth Phoenix,” Natalya said in an interview with WWE.com. “She’s a pioneer for women in our division. Beth did extraordinary things for women in WWE.”

Phoenix tweeted about the news:

"When it comes to friends, she is the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. @NatbyNature thank you #DOD4Ever"

The Hall of Fame ceremony will be the first of WWE's major events during WrestleMania weekend, with it taking place on Friday, March 31st at the Amway Center. The same building will be home to NXT TakeOver: Orlando the next night before Camping World Stadium hosts WrestleMania 33 on April 2nd.

This year's WWE Hall of Fame lineup is:

*Kurt Angle (inducted by John Cena)
*The Rock 'n' Roll Express (inducted by Jim Cornette)
*Teddy Long (inducted by John "Bradshaw" Layfield & Ron Simmons)
*Diamond Dallas Page (inducted by Eric Bischoff)
*Rick Rude (inducted by Ricky Steamboat)
*Beth Phoenix (inducted by Natalya)
*Dana Warrior will also present Eric LeGrand with the 2017 Warrior Award at the ceremony.

-Tuesday night's episode of SmackDown on the USA Network averaged 2.647 million viewers, up about one percent from last week's rating.

That number follows the previous night's Raw being down about six percent in the ratings.

Tuesday's show was built around AJ Styles answering Shane McMahon's challenge for a match at WrestleMania as well as a tag title match between The Usos and American Alpha.

SmackDown finished fourth for the night in total viewers on cable. It is usually in the bottom half of the top ten. The show was also first in the 18-49 demo with a 0.87 rating.

SmackDown's ratings have settled in around the 2.6 million range, which is comfortably up from the 2.1-2.2 million it was averaging prior to the brand split and move to a live format on Tuesday nights.

The numbers may have been helped by the fact that both ABC and CBS ran repeat programming on Tuesday and ratings in the 8-10 p.m. block were down about 30 percent from normal levels.

-Paul Heyman and his Heyman Hustle website are partnering with Yahoo to produce content leading up to WrestleMania.

-No word why yet that Mauro Ranallo wasn't at SmackDown again this week. Tom Phillips announced that Ranallo was out sick.

-The WWE is collaborating with Foot Locker and Puma on limited-edition WWE-themed sneakers and t-shirts. Peter Rosenberg and Corey Graves showed off some of the merchandise on Facebook Live.

-Bray Wyatt was interviewed by Sports Illustrated and spoke about wanting Bo Dallas to join the Wyatt Family.

-Sami Zayn was interviewed by the Kingston Whig-Standard.

-John Cena's American Grit show returns to Fox for its second season on June 11th.

-The former Tommy End will be making his televised NXT debut over WrestleMania weekend.

A few weeks of videos hyped the arrival of Aleister Black before it was announced on Wednesday night's episode of NXT that he would be debuting against Andrade "Cien" Almas at TakeOver: Orlando.

After signing with WWE, Black wrestled on the Network for the first time under the name Tommy End against Neville on the second night of the UK tournament.

Shinsuke Nakamura challenging Bobby Roode for the NXT Championship will headline TakeOver: Orlando at the Amway Center on April 1st. Roode won the title from Nakamura in the main event of NXT's Royal Rumble weekend special, with WWE playing up that Nakamura suffered a storyline knee injury during the match.

-After appearing on SmackDown on air, stories at http://www.thescore.com/nfl/news/1261532-gronk-goes-insane-pumping-up-wwe-s-mojo-rawley and http://www.bardown.com/rob-gronkowski-is-the-new-biggest-wrestling-fan-and-is-getting-mojo-rawley-ready-for-wrestlemania-1.703770 have come out about him training Mojo Rawley his friend and even possibly going to WrestleMania to be a part of it in some way, especially after the Shaquille O'Neal deal for a match against the Big Show fell through.

-In the "believe it if you want" there are rumours floating around that WWE offered contracts to Matt and Jeff Hardy ... another is that WWE has approached Sinclair Broadcasting about buying Ring of Honor.

Joe Koff had something sent to ROH talent to tell them that the discussions with WWE regarded licensing old footage from their library.

-With NXT TakeOver's big WrestleMania weekend fast approaching, WWE's COO Paul "HHH" Levesque did his regular conference call with the wrestling media Thursday afternoon.

A few questions/topics he went into:

*A rundown of the next TakeOver show which features NXT Champion Bobby Roode vs. Nakamura, Aleister Black vs. Andrade Almas, NXT Women's Champion Asuka vs. Ember Moon, and more.
*Clarification on his past comments on not being "happy" with NXT
*Could NXT eventually have facilities all over the world like MMA's American Top Team?
*What led to the exit and eventual return of Kassius Ohno (aka Chris Hero)
*Discussion on whether the UK brand is going to be Network only or whether traditional TV is a goal
*The evolution of some of the younger talents they are developing (Patrick Clark, etc)
*The status of Kyle O'Reilly coming to WWE

On the WWE conference call today as well, Paul Levesque said that there will be no specific television tapings done at Fan Axxess this year. All the matches will be taped but not for specific television shows. Last year they did an NXT taping in Dallas at Fan Axxess, but since they're in Orlando, this year they are doing it at Full Sail University on 4/5.

-While Shawn Michaels has maintained that he's retired since last facing The Undertaker at WrestleMania 26 nearly seven years ago, it hasn't been without WWE making efforts to lure him back to the ring.

That seemingly happened again this year, as Michaels said during an appearance on this week's Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast that he turned down a potential match against AJ Styles at WrestleMania 33.

When asked about Styles vs. Shane McMahon at WrestleMania, Michaels said that WWE approached him when coming up with plans for Styles.

"I could've had that match," Michaels told Roberts. "They did not have an opponent for AJ at WrestleMania."

But Michaels reiterated that he was retired, telling WWE that he wished Styles was in the company 10 years ago. Michaels said that he has only seen Styles wrestle once, which was against John Cena during this year's Royal Rumble, but thought that he would have a pretty decent match with Shane.

Michaels later said on the podcast that he'll be involved with the WrestleMania 33 pre-show on the WWE Network, but called it unlikely that he'll be doing anything else on the show unless something changes at the last minute.

-The company will announce the new WWE Network subscriber number on 4/3 at 3 p.m. Eastern time in a conference call with George Barrios and Michelle Wilson.

-Jimmy Fallon last night, when he had John Cena on as a guest, said that he would be attending WrestleMania as he's taping all week in Orlando.

-There is a pre-sale later today for the WWE tour of Australia with shows on 9/14 in Melbourne, 9/15 in Sydney and 9/16 in Brisbane. They go on sale 10 a.m. Friday local time at My Ticketek and go on sale to the public on Monday.

They also announced these new dates with shows on 6/8 in San Juan at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico, 6/10 in Panama City, Panama at the Roberto Duran Arena, 6/11 in San Jose, Costa Rica at the Anfiteatro Coca Cola.

The WWE debuts in Buenos Aires at the famed Luna Park, which was the site for a number of legendary matches in the old days, with a show on 10/19.

-The WWE is advertising Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman, Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson defending the tag titles against The New Day, Sheamus & Cesaro and Enzo & Cass plus Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and Bayley for a show tomorrow night at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

-NBC Sports talked to Paul Levesque and Bayley the latter particularly about why her dream opponent would be Stephanie McMahon.

**UPDATES for March 24/17**

-At http://slam.canoe.com/Slam/Wrestling/2017/03/24/22712903.html is a story explaining how Glen Jacobs (Kane) is going to be running for Mayor in Knox County, Tennessee. The election takes place in May of 2018 with outgoing Mayor Tim Burchett reaching his term limit. Jacobs will be running as a Republican. The news was first reported by the NBC affiliate WBIR.

-Mauro Ranallo has been off WWE TV for a couple of weeks, and just posted an update on his Twitter feed:

"I'm deeply touched by your tweets of support. My doctor wants me to stay off social media for now but I wanted to thank you."

-Ryan Satin at Pro Wrestling Sheet reported this week that the WWE had engaged in talks with the Sinclair Broadcast Group regarding a purchase of Ring of Honor. Satin emphasized that no deal was in place and was only reporting that the talks had occurred. Dave Meltzer has since added that talks began last August and that Joe Koff has sent a note to talent that the discussions were about licensing footage from the library. We did reach out to Ring of Honor for comment on the story and have not received any official word regarding the report.

If a deal of this magnitude were to go through, it would have a big impact on the business and would lead to numerous questions regarding ROH’s future as an active touring promotion. On the WWE’s end, the big key is the tape library from the promotion that dates back to 2002 and includes countless stars on WWE television that would be of great value to the company. Sinclair purchased the company in May of 2011 when owner Cary Silkin was looking to get out after taking over the company in 2004 and putting a lot of capital in. ROH has run on syndicated television since the purchase by Sinclair but has never reaped the full benefits of an entity as large as Sinclair.

-Dave Meltzer reported on the Wrestling Observer website that a t-shirt has been released that includes all of this year’s “Legacy” inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame. The shirt lists the following additions to the Hall of Fame: Rikidozan, Judy Grable, Joseph “Toots” Mondt, Martin “Farmer” Burns, Luther Lindsay, Dr. Jerry Graham, June Byers and Haystacks Calhoun.

-The WWE has announced their WrestleMania Week programming with the following scheduled throughout the week:

*Monday March 27th: A new episode of “24” airing right after Raw focusing on past episodes of Raw from the night after WrestleMania
*Tuesday March 28th: Another episode of “24” on Kurt Angle and featuring his interview with Corey Graves airing right after Talking Smack
*Wednesday March 29th – NXT at 8pm with Kassius Ohno vs. Elias Samson in a Loser Leaves NXT Match
*Thursday March 30th – A live “Bring it to the Table” from Orlando with Peter Rosenberg, JBL and Corey Graves at 8pm
*Friday March 31st – Hall of Fame Red Carpet at 7pm hosted by Maria Menounos followed by the ceremony at 8pm
*Saturday April 1st – NXT Takeover pre-show at 7:30pm and card at 8pm
*Sunday April 2nd – WrestleMania kickoff at 5pm with Renee Young, Shawn Michaels, Booker T. and Jerry Lawler

There had been some questions about this because of a mistake in a WWE press release that was sent out. But the WrestleMania schedule is for the pre-show to start at 5 p.m Eastern time with a two hour show on the WWE Network before the PPV at 7 p.m. The mistake going around is the PPV listed at starting at 8 p.m.

-The WWE’s Raw crew has a house show in Montreal tonight at the Bell Centre featuring Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns and Finn Balor all advertised. The Raw crew heads to Portland, Maine on Saturday although Balor is not advertised for that show. The Smackdown crew starts Saturday night in Johnson City, Tennessee with Randy Orton and John Cena advertised. Asuka is scheduled for all three Smackdown brand house shows this week.

-A note from Thursday’s Impact is that the term “NXT” was edited out of Josh Mathews’ promo at the end of the show. Originally Matthews stated that the fans at the Impact Zone came to the show for free because they could not afford tickets to NXT (which would have been a stupid line to include on your own broadcast). The edited version stated that the fans came to their show for free because they couldn’t afford “a ticket”, which isn’t much better for the portrayal of your audience but wasn’t as bad as implying they would rather be watching the competitor than this product.

-Earlier in the week, Impact Wrestling added “TM” marks to all of the videos attached with the Broken Hardys. Reby Hardy responded to the latest move by Impact Wrestling & Anthem Sports on her Twitter timeline and stated she went through the proper procedure with the US patent office to trademark the characters. It feels as though this will only end in court unless a settlement is reached, which seems unlikely given the sides appear to be strong in their belief that each have the rights to the characters. Matt Hardy has also closed his online shop, which will obviously ramp up expectations that he and Jeff are WWE bound.

-The WWE stock closed at $21.95 on Friday.

-Raw will be Monday in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center with a Seth Rollins vs. HHH contract signing, plus Undertaker, Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg all appearing. There is also a Smackdown brand house show in Norfolk, VA on Monday night.

Smackdown and 205 Live will be taped on Tuesday in Richmond, VA for the final main roster show before WrestleMania. Bray Wyatt vs. Luke Harper is scheduled for Smackdown and Rich Swann vs. Noam Dar for 205 Live.

-There will be a new Undertaker collection added on Monday to the WWE Network. It will likely be a collection of his WrestleMania matches, that are already up in other forms.

-Paul Heyman and his Looking 4 Larry ad agency has been hired by the Richmond International Speedway to handle marketing and promotion for the trick kicking off with races that take place in September. He was hired to help widen the appeal of the races in that city. He was hired to help them market starting with a race on 9/9 through all platforms.

-Lilian Garcia appeared on "The Price is Right" today. It was a University of South Carolina vs. Clemson themed show and Garcia went to South Carolina.

**UPDATES For March 26/17**

-Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens got to main event Friday night’s WWE show at the Bell Centre in Montreal. It was obviously a big deal to both returning to Montreal and getting the main event slot. After the match, Zayn got on the microphone to address the audience and Owens and noted that it was his WrestleMania. Zayn praised Owens and talked about their journey in an emotional promo after the match until Owens responded in French by saying that he hates Zayn and walked off.

-EVOLVE has announced that free agent Kyle O’Reilly will be working for the promotion in April and May. O’Reilly is scheduled to face Keith Lee on April 22nd in Queens, New York; against Fred Yehi on April 23rd in Brooklyn; with Matt Riddle on May 20th in Chicago and is also on the May 21st card in Livonia, Michigan but doesn’t have an opponent listed for that card. O’Reilly was working with a deal with ROH during his short one-month reign as champion and dropped the title at Wrestle Kingdom 11 in January. Paul Levesque was very complimentary of O’Reilly during this past week’s NXT conference call and is obviously on their radar and most assume that is where he will end up. O’Reilly’s long-time tag partner Bobby Fish will also be a free agent as of this Monday.

-John Cena will be co-hosting the Today Show during the 9 a.m. ET hour on Monday and Tuesday of next week.

-Bas Rutten gave an update on Mauro Ranallo during an appearance on the Luke Thomas Show, saying that Ranallo is doing well and that he should be "back to normal" soon.

-The Miami Herald posted a guide on visiting Orlando for WrestleMania weekend.

-Zack Ryder discusses his injury and coming back from it on his new YouTube show.

-Gail Kim tweeted about Stephanie McMahon crediting Triple H and WWE fans with the creation of the women's revolution:

"My opinion is @IMPACTWRESTLING did. No shade just truth and my personal opinion. I never got my opportunity till then and it's never stopped."

-Tomorrow's Raw at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia is sold out. There will legitimately be nearly 15,000 people there which will make it among the best attended WWE shows of the year.

-As expected, SummerSlam tickets at the Barclays Center sold out the first day they were put on sale.

-Word is the only people who know the outcome of the Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg Universal Championship match are the participants and Vince McMahon only. Also in some leaked scripts for the timing of WrestleMania there are 5 New Day hosting segments planned and 1 non-scripted segment for the show aside the matches themselves.

-Add former women's champion Eve Torres Gracie to the list of those being brought in for WrestleMania according PW Insider. As noted here, a number of former women's stars were contacted months ago about being part of the weekend. Victoria is another being rumoured.

-An elderly fan passed away at the WWE event Saturday night in Portland, ME. He collapsed and fell out of his seat early in the show, at the start of the second match on the card, which was a six-man tag with R-Truth & Goldust & Curtis Axel vs. Shining Stars & Titus O'Neil. Most fans at the show didn't know this even happened. EMTs at the arena gave him CPR for about 20 minutes before he was rushed to Maine Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

-The Lilian Garcia episode of The Price is Right will be airing on 3/31.

Come back for more news, so don't 'cha dare miss it!
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