The week preceding a pay-per-view is always a busy one for the WWE, and this week has been no different. With Hell in a Cell set for Sunday, the WWE has been hard at work, trying to provide last-minute build for the big matches and finalizing the rest of the card as well.
While the CM Punk vs. Ryback WWE championship match has definitely been at the forefront of WWE programming over the last couple of weeks, there were other angles worth following this week as well. The most notable was A.J. Lee resigning as general manager of Raw due to accusations that she had an affair with John Cena.
There has been plenty going on outside the ring as well. A WWE legend and current WWE superstar are rumored to be returning in the near future. Meanwhile, the WWE is using new means to bolster its divas division, while a part-time WWE star may be around for longer than many initially anticipated.
Here are the biggest news stories and rumors regarding the WWE for the week beginning on Oct. 21 as Hell in a Cell draws near.
A.J. Lee had been Raw's general manager since the 1,000th episode of WWE's flagship show, but her tumultuous tenure came to a sudden end on Monday.
A.J. was called to the WWE's corporate headquarters earlier in the day for a meeting. She arrived at Raw along with Vince McMahon. After a discussion with the board of directors, A.J. decided to resign from her position.
A.J. said that she was accused of fraternizing with a WWE superstar, which didn't come as much of a surprise considering her previous encounters with Daniel Bryan, CM Punk and Kane.
When John Cena pressed her to tell McMahon that the accusations weren't true, A.J. admitted that Cena was the superstar in question.
I'm going to reserve judgment until everything plays out, but I'm certainly not a fan of this particular angle thus far. There is simply too much wrong with it to take it seriously.
The biggest problem is that it's being called an affair, while both A.J. and Cena are single. That doesn't fly.
The fact that Vickie Guerrero has been trying to get A.J.'s job for quite some time should have raised some red flags as well. She was the accuser, yet the board took her word as gospel for some reason.
Cena is scheduled to address the situation on the Hell in a Cell pre-show, but I have a feeling this angle will endure through Survivor Series at the very least.
A five-on-five elimination match between an A.J.-led team and Vickie-led team at Survivor Series seems quite possible with the winner officially becoming the Raw GM.
What happens between now and then is anyone's guess.
"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair hasn't been seen in a WWE ring since 2009, but if the rumors are to be believed, that drought could be coming to an end very soon.
According to PWInsider.com via WrestleZone.com, sources close to the WWE Hall of Famer expect him to return to the WWE on this coming Monday's edition of Raw in his hometown of Charlotte, N.C.
Although Flair was allowed to appear along with the other members of the Four Horsemen at the 2012 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, he had been with TNA for the past few years.
Flair's relationship with TNA became strained near the end, however, and he was eventually fired in May. Now that he's been out of action for a few months, it would seem as though Flair is free to sign where he pleases.
No matter how old or how crazy Flair gets, I will always welcome him back to the WWE with open arms, so I certainly hope that this report comes to fruition.
I don't want to see Flair wrestle anymore, but he could be great as a manager, an authority figure or in any type of role that allows him to cut a promo. Sometimes these rumors are nothing more than hearsay, but the fact that Flair canceled an independent booking gives me hope.
According to the report, Flair may get involved in the storyline between John Cena, A.J. Lee and Vickie Guerrero. I'm not sure what Flair would do, but he is certainly no stranger to affair angles.
Perhaps Flair isn't exactly the same guy that he used to be, but he gets an instant reaction and always brings a great deal of energy to the table, so the WWE simply can't go wrong by bringing him back.
Over the past few months, the WWE's divas division has thinned out significantly.
The Bella Twins, Kharma and Kelly Kelly have already left the company officially. There are also rumors that Beth Phoenix will be the next to go, so there is certainly a need for an influx of talent.
The WWE is apparently taking steps toward rebuilding the division, as it issued a casting breakdown, according to WrestlingNewsWorld.com.
The WWE is apparently in search of women between the ages of 18 and 30 and is asking for head shots as well as bikini photos.
Not surprisingly, previous wrestling training or experience of any kind wasn't mentioned. That fact will probably irritate many fans, but the WWE is making an effort to bolster the divas division, if nothing else.
While I would love to see more pure wrestlers in the WWE's divas division, I understand how the company operates. A good-looking woman appeals more to the general audience than one who is great in the ring, and that has been true for quite some time.
When the WWE is able to get somebody who excels in both areas, though, that is when they hit the jackpot. Say what you will about this search, which amounts to a modeling casting call, but it has proven successful in the past.
The WWE had several Diva Search competitions and they helped the company discover talents such as Eve, Layla, Maryse, Michelle McCool and many others. None of them had much if any wrestling experience, but all of them became very capable in that regard.
If the WWE can add a couple of capable divas through this process and add in someone like Sara Del Rey if she chooses to wrestle rather than train, it could have a formidable division soon enough.
"The World's Strongest Man" Mark Henry has been on the shelf since April due to a groin injury, but he may be wreaking havoc on the WWE roster once again in the very near future.
According to The Wrestling Observer via WrestleZone.com, Henry has been cleared to compete for a fair amount of time and his return is a matter of when rather than if.
Henry is reportedly much fitter than he was prior to his injury, and that will likely help him remain healthy when he does come back.
Prior to dropping the World heavyweight championship to Big Show at TLC last year, Henry was on the biggest roll of his career. Nagging injuries were probably the main culprit for his slide, but perhaps a healthy and motivated Henry will regain his lofty status.
I despised Henry for many years and dreamed of the day that his ridiculous contract would come to an end, but he really impressed me when he turned heel last year.
Henry simply wasn't entertaining as a smiling face, but he found his niche as an unstoppable monster. I loved Henry's no-nonsense attitude, but even his mic work was impeccable as a heel. I never realized he had that in him, but Henry truly is a late bloomer.
Since the World heavyweight championship scene is awfully stale at the moment, I wouldn't mind seeing Henry become a part of the conversation immediately.
Sheamus could potentially feud with Wade Barrett or The Miz, but Henry would be a great option as well. He and Sheamus had a quick feud last year and Henry beat Sheamus via countout at SummerSlam, but there was no resolution. I would love for them to settle the score once and for all.
Jim Ross Addresses the State of Mark Henry (via WrestlingInc.com)
Although Brock Lesnar signed a one-year contract with WWE that doesn't expire until after WrestleMania, many fans have wondered whether his WWE return was only temporary.
Lesnar's UFC career is much maligned, but he did become the UFC heavyweight champion and generated buzz like nobody else. As a result, the general thought was that a UFC return was possible and perhaps even inevitable.
According to WrestleZone.com, however, Lesnar told UFC president Dana White that he is done with mixed martial arts. White said that he talked to Lesnar a couple of days ago and that Lesnar maintained he was never coming back because he could wrestle, but can't fight competitively.
White usually seems like a pretty straight shooter, so I would tend to take his words at face value.
I'm sure there are quite a few people out there who would like to see Lesnar return to the UFC due to the intrigue that he provides, but as someone who has never really gotten into MMA, I'm thrilled by this revelation.
The fact that Lesnar has maintained his UFC persona in WWE had me worried that it was only a matter of time before he went back, but his body has gone through a lot, so it's understandable why he would rather stick to performing than actually fighting.
This doesn't guarantee that he'll re-sign with the WWE, but doing so would be so lucrative that he'd be crazy not to.
There is still a lot that the WWE can do with Lesnar and there are a ton of guys who he can feud with. I've never considered myself a fan of Lesnar's, but he's a great athlete who brings something different to the table.
When he's around, there is simply more buzz surrounding the product.