TJR WWE Q&A #60: All Elite Wrestling Launching, Breakout WWE NXT Stars, Royal Rumble and More!

The last Q&A on here was in August, so I felt like I had to change that and here I am in the first week of 2019 with a new Q&A for you. The questions come from my Facebook page and they cover a variety of wrestling related topics. Let’s get right into it.

1. Ed Rokose
Hey John. Thanks for all the great work. Hope this isn’t a generic question, but how would you book RAW from this moment forward to make it more entertaining?

This past Monday’s show was a nice step in the right direction. They featured Drew McIntyre, Apollo Crews and Seth Rollins heavily. All good talents. Book meaningful matches, less bad comedy segments, give people a chance to shine that aren’t getting the opportunity and see how they do.

It’s not that complicated. I think Raw is too overscripted as far as promos and you need to give talent a bit more freedom. Steve Austin complained about writers in WWE about 16 years ago and it’s still an issue with wrestlers not getting a chance to speak like they should instead of memorizing a script.

Maybe I will write a longer column about this soon.

2. Andy Mullen
You can pick two NXT guys to be in the Royal Rumble and based on their reactions they can stay on the main roster. Who do you choose?

Ricochet and Velveteen Dream, but I don’t think either will debut yet. I think both will be in NXT for most of this year. I just feel like they would do the best on the main roster in the long term.

I think Aleister Black is most likely to appear at the Rumble out of anybody in NXT. He should do well and will probably a Smackdown guy to be with wifey Zelina Vega.

3. Matt Livingstone
Do you think they should try and get Hawkins over as a babyface through his streak, and he finally wins a match at Wrestlemania?

Sure. When they did the Heath Slater story in 2016 after the brand split and put the tag team titles on him and Rhyno, the crowd popped huge. It’s the lovable loser gimmick. They could have Hawkins fluke win the battle royal, but I think Lars Sullivan is a good bet to win that. I don’t see Hawkins in a match or getting a win at WM.

I would put Hawkins and Ryder together again. They’re best friends that started over a decade ago. Give em a shot. Why not? Better than doing nothing.

4. Brian Neilson
Any word on when Jason Jordan is coming back?

Nope. His neck injury was more serious than they thought and he’s been backstage for months working as a producer (helping put together matches). I hope he can get back. He seems optimistic based on tweets, but I don’t know any more about it. I wish him the best because he’s a talented guy even though the Angle son gimmick was silly. It would have been good if he turned heel, though.

5. Brandan Kelly
What was your favorite WCW match all time?

Rey vs. Eddie at Halloween Havoc 1997. It’s a perfect match to me around 15 minutes. Not too long. Perfect time.

Some other favorites are Flair vs. Vader at Starrcade 1993, Wargames in 1991 and 1992. Some Cactus Jack vs. Vader and Sting matches are great too.

6. Andy Papaleo
Why do you think that some people complain about a 5 hour Wrestlemania and not complain about a 5 hour Japan show? Granted not every match on a WM is 6 stars, but is every match on WK the same?

People complain about everything lol. I don’t think the quality of WrestleMania has been that great since they have gone to 5 hours, so it’s a reason to complain. Longer show and more matches is not a great idea. The last WrestleMania I really liked was 31 in 2015, but it was lacking in terms of memorable matches. It was good for “WrestleMania moments” though.

Wrestle Kingdom shows are awesome. I obviously like WWE more and that’s my focus, but NJPW does an incredible job with their big shows.

7. Geoff Landtbom
With NXT coming off their best year ever, who do you see as breakout stars in 2019? And can they actually top 2018?

I think Ricochet and Velveteen Dream are the two that come to mind as being key focal points. Both of them will be NXT Champs if they are there all year.

I don’t know if Gargano and Ciampa are going to main roster ever, but as long as they are there the shows will be great. They are the true “heart” of NXT and have been for a few years.

I’m not sure if they can top 2018, but they might. The roster is outstanding. They might lose a guy like Aleister Black to the main roster, but guys like Keith Lee and Matt Riddle are waiting in the wings to get massive pushes too.

8. Rob Brown
What WWE wrestler who has never won a championship would you like to see win one in 2019?

Samoa Joe. He won in NXT, but not main roster. Sami Zayn too. There are a lot of choices, but those are two of my favorites.

9. John Adams
If it is Charlotte vs Ronda at WrestleMania and it is the main event do you see Charlotte winning and ending yet another undefeated streak at Wrestlemania?

I think it will be Becky vs. Ronda most likely and if they add Charlotte I guess it’s okay. I like her, but I’d prefer singles. I think Becky or Charlotte could end Ronda’s title reign because she will lose at some point. I don’t know if I have an official prediction for something three months away. If I had to guess now, I would say Ronda wins at Mania and loses it at another show.

10. Andy Ross
Thoughts on the future for AEW???

I’m excited for them. I think all of us as wrestling fans have known since WCW died that the best chance for a company to compete against WWE is if they had a few things:

– A billionaire backing the company because you need money to sustain losses and be a start up.
– A legit TV deal on a Network people actually watch. When TNA had Spike that was good, but they didn’t have money to really grow.
– Star power. With Cody and the Bucks they have some guys, but I don’t know if they are going to be difference makers. It’s not like ROH attendance went up with them. I read it was about the same or worse.

I hope it’s successful for many years to come and that it’s a nice paying job for wrestlers.

One thing about WWE that people don’t talk about enough is the talent probably makes less than 20% of what the company brings in. The major pro sports leagues have their performers making about 50% of the profits. That’s something that wrestling needs to get better at, but there will not be a union like in pro sports.

I want to see what they say and announce at that rally on Tuesday.

Side note: Three of the first ten people that asked questions on here are named Andy. I did not plan it to happen that way. Do people name their kids Andy anymore? Probably not.

11. Reginald De Juan Johnson
Which wrestler can you predict with the most upside?

Velveteen Dream. Dude is so great already and he’s 23 years old. I’m so excited about his future.

12. James Bright
Who would you make the next big signing to WWE?

Kenny Omega. Throw millions at him. See if he says yes. He might, but he’s happy where he is and could want to go to AEW. That’s a guy that could be a difference maker, though.

13. Shoaib Hussain
With it being a poor year for WWE last year in terms of storyline and product, do you see them pushing someone fresh rather than the same old faces?

It depends on what people define as fresh. I mean Raw might push Braun Strowman even more, but he’s already been there as a main eventer for two years. Drew McIntyre could get a big push and he started over a decade ago, so is he fresh? Sort of.

They’ll probably push Seth Rollins hard. He’s not really fresh because he has been pushed huge before, but he deserves it as a top face on Raw.

I don’t think the “changes” WWE is promising are going to be that big. What they really meant was no more heel GM characters like Corbin, but that’ll change in a few months too lol.

14. Jeremy Barnes
Who do you see facing Daniel Bryan after the Styles rivalry is over?

I’d love to see Bryan vs. John Cena at WrestleMania. Why not? Cena going for #17 against a guy he wrestled in the past, but not when Bryan was a heel like this. I think it would be a cool story.

I don’t know of any other face on Smackdown that would be a great choice. Rey or Jeff Hardy just aren’t that hot right now. If they got Kenny Omega, then maybe him.

15. JD Robert
If Hogan, Savage and Warrior weren’t around in the late 80’s/early 90’s WWF. Who would they have as champion?

I think Perfect or Dibiase should have been champion at one point, but Vince liked putting it on the face guys obviously.

They might have accelerated Bret Hart’s face push and put it on him earlier, but he also wasn’t as big as Hogan or Warrior in terms of size.

16. James Ferriman
Who do you think will be the face of WWE long term now that Roman is sadly out of the picture indefinitely. Braun Strowman, perhaps?

A bunch of people for now. You try different people in certain spots, look at business factors like TV viewership, attendance, merch and see if there’s a difference maker. Maybe a guy like Ricochet gets called up and is a big deal. I dunno. There’s nothing wrong with the likes of Rollins, Strowman, Styles as top faces right now. None of them are that huge, though.

Strowman is already 35 or so with bad knees. He’s not really a factor in terms of ratings or drawing people to live events.

17. Darrius Gaddy
Are you a fan of Bischoff or Schivone’s podcasts with Conrad? And if so do you have a favorite episode. I listen to Eric’s and he never takes blame for anything, but I like how he goes into details as far as numbers go. It’s cool looking at that side. And Tony’s is full of dick jokes. But I work a boring job so I listen anyway.

I have listened to most of Bischoff’s, but it gets repetitive with the defending of Hogan (who really did hold people down) and Bischoff’s excuses being the same thing where he would blame somebody else for something. “Oh I wasn’t in charge of creative,” well then it’s still your fault for making a shitty decision.

I used to listen to the Tony one, but not for a few months. During NFL season, I listen to football podcasts way more for betting and fantasy purposes (it was a good year lol).

The Prichard one is the best in terms of the three that Conrad does.

18. Shane Blankenship
Do you think AEW will be legit competition for the WWE in the future?

It depends on their TV deal, who else they have under contract as wrestlers and how well they do as a business. If they are running 10,000 seat arenas monthly and getting close to sellouts that is great, but we don’t know if they can do that. It’s too early in the process. They have yet to announce if they have TV or when they might run shows. Time will tell.

I want it to succeed and be legit competition because that’s great for the business, the wrestlers and for us fans, but it’s still too early.

19. Brian Wallace
Would the reintroduction of stables do anything in this era of WWE? With the slow turn towards having managers be a thing again could it be something to help build younger stars like the Nation did for The Rock?

I think stables are cool, but they don’t last enough in today’s WWE. Does New Day count as a stable? That’s been going on four years and every year there’s a rumor that they might break up, so we’ll see. I think Undisputed Era is a great stable in NXT, but I’m not sure if they would be pushed on main roster. It’s not like Sanity is doing anything.

Managers are a great thing and I would have more of them. Zelina Vega is a great wrestler that is just average in the ring, but she is great for Almas. Sadly, I don’t think Vinny Mac likes managers that much and it’s never going to be like it was the 1980s or early 1990s.

20. David Casado
What angle do you think the WWE/WWF absolutely butchered when it had so much promise?

The WWF/WCW feud in 2001. That’s a three year story that they killed in six months. It was fine when it happened, but they rushed through it way too fast especially since they brought in plenty of WCW names over the next couple of years.

21. Daniel Lerma
Who do you think could be the next NXT hidden gem? Someone like Alexa Bliss, Carmella or Elias that weren’t really that popular in NXT but they succeeded more on the main roster.

I don’t know if Keith Lee counts as a hidden gym, but I’ve seen enough to believe that he can be a huge star. I just don’t know if he’ll get that big of a push.

I like Montez Ford as a potential hidden gem. He’s in a tag team right now, but he’s only 28 or so and he’s got a great personality, so he can stand out.

Elias still has yet to have a memorable feud or match and it’s been over a year. I think he’s doing well as a face, but I don’t think he’s exciting. You need more than two catchphrases.

22. Jonathan McCauley
With AEW coming to fruition, what are the odds that we get a true rivalry between wrestling companies??

A lot of AEW questions coming in, but we don’t know much other than they have a handful of wrestlers and a lot of money behind them. Until they announce a TV deal, what kind of schedule they are going to run (live events plus TV, how many shows per month?) it’s too early to really project anything. If the TV deal is great and they can offer legitimately good deals to wrestlers then maybe they have a shot, but we might be years away from that.

For example, WWE could offer Kenny Omega $2 million per year guaranteed plus bonuses. Could AEW do that? Maybe, but I doubt they would go that far. So I don’t think they can really compete especially since WWE has more money than ever.

23. Joe Harris
Do you think we will have separate women’s tag titles on each show? Or will the Champs work both brands? And will the titles be Iconic!

I think they will be both brands because I don’t think WWE wants to have champs on both shows, but I have no idea. There might not be enough people to really have two more sets of titles.

I love the Iconics. I wish they got more screen time. I’m not just saying that because they are pretty girls (especially Peyton Royce). I’m saying it because they are true heels that know how to get heat.

24. Cory Andrew Bacon
If you could make only one change in WWE in 2018, what would it have been that could have drastically changed the product that we got?

Make Paul Heyman head booker with full control. Never happen, but that’s what I would do. Triple H in that spot would be fine too.

25. Rob Brown
At one point, it seemed ‘a lock’ that Mania would have Ronda’s UFC 4 horsewomen vs Charlotte, Becky, Sasha and Bayley. Now it seems Ronda, Becky and Charlotte have pulled away from that pack. With all of the hype surrounding those 3, is that 4 on 4 match still a good idea?

You can do a tag team match at a SummerSlam or Survivor Series, but those matches aren’t as interesting as singles match. Spend this year developing Duke and Shafir in NXT, then call them up to the main roster when ready and after that, maybe we see the tag team match. There’s no rush.

26. Liam Loftus
You’ve got a new promotion, you have carte blanche to sign 10 male, 10 female talents and 6 tag teams, who would you sign?

Men: Okada, Omega, Rollins, Styles, Ricochet, Ospreay, Bryan, Lesnar (make him work a regular schedule – he has name value plus is great as a bully heel), Velveteen Dream and Gargano. I’m missing Ciampa and others, but life is full of tough choices.

Women: Lynch, Flair, Rousey, Banks, Moon, Tessa Blanchard, Cherry Bomb (Allie – she’s from my city!), Mickie to be veteran that makes everybody better, Kairi Sane and Io Shirai. I’m probably missing some good ones too.

Tag Teams: Usos, Undisputed Era, Young Bucks, New Day, Gable/Cody (that’s a new team lol) and Revival.

If you asked me another time I would have different choices.

27. Chris Robertson
With this push of the women’s division, do you think they will ever get their own show? If so, when?

I think that might happen, but WWE might not want to do it because they seem more keen on doing something like a NXT Germany crew for example.

If it was up to me, I would dump 205 Live and replace it with a women’s wrestling show that would get more viewers due to more women watching it, male fans wanting to see attractive women and more featured matches for talents that don’t get as much of a chance on the main roster.

28. Beau Lukies
Do you think Alexa Bliss will return to the ring soon or at all?

Last I heard from somebody that knows her well (they are not on camera, so don’t go guessing lol) said hopefully she’s ready by Royal Rumble. She’s been training at the Performance Center.

29. Daniel Mount
What should they do with Baron Corbin? I feel he’d be a great mercenary.

He’s getting heat, so it is working. I think he’d be great in a stable, but I’m not sure who with. Pair him up with a shorter guy and see if they can get some heat together.

30. Roger Nicklaus
Who do you see attacking R-Truth in the back to take his #30 spot in the Royal Rumble? An established wwe roster guy or a surprise entrant/newcomer?

Kenny Omega! That would be cool. Maybe they do some angle where he trades the number with 1 because he’s dumb and thinks that number goes out last. I dunno lol. People trying to fantasy book R-Truth’s entrant is kinda silly.


That’s all for this Q&A. Thanks to those of you that asked the questions. Check out our TJR Q&A section here if you want to read past editions of the Q&A. There might be another batch that goes up tomorrow because there were a lot of questions. Have a great weekend.