Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.
McMahon Discusses Declining Ratings
Ratings for Raw and SmackDown Live have reached an all-time low in recent months, and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon addressed the issue during WWE's fourth-quarter earnings call for 2018 on Thursday.
According to Marc Middleton of WrestlingInc.com, McMahon blamed injuries to key Superstars and John Cena's absence because of Hollywood commitments for the ratings decline:
"The unfortunate aspect of sometimes in our business, is that we ... our performers are not cartoons. They get hurt. This year, leading up to where we are now, we've had an inordinate number of injuries. And when you have injuries ... you know, there's a whole bunch of them. Roman Reigns being the principal among them. And even John Cena, not an injury-type thing, but we thought we were going to have John be more of a part of our programming than we do. John, God bless him, is making more movies. And even John, I would think, would say, 'Geez, I thought I was going to spend more time with what I love to do,' which is WWE. So, he's been coming in and out, he's not really a part of our storyline."
McMahon cited injuries to a number of other WWE stars and added:
"It's like we ... you had all these injuries, which is really unusual for us, and they're characters. It's no different if you're writing a soap opera and all of a sudden your main character wasn't there. You're in the middle of production, what do you do? You very nimbly change the storyline, but it's not as good as the original one. Sometimes it is better because we're pretty good at it, but those are things that we're faced with and one of the reasons why television ratings have dropped. And one of the reasons, obviously, from a live-event standpoint, that's dropped too. Because if you don't have your favorites on television, obviously you can't see them at a live event either. We're wide open and Ronda [Rousey has] done an extraordinary job. There will be other individuals coming from different areas that will join us on a long-term basis, that will help us as well."
In December, WWE Raw set an all-time low for viewership on multiple occasions, including a low-water mark of just 2.194 million viewers.
A number of factors have contributed to WWE's ratings struggles, and it's true that injuries have likely played a role since WWE has been without some of its top stars at various points over the past year.
The roster seems to be getting healthier as WrestleMania approaches, though. Since part-time Superstars like Cena and The Undertaker may be integrated as well, it wouldn't be surprising to see a ratings bump in the coming weeks and months.
Reported Original WrestleMania Plans for Reigns Revealed
Roman Reigns has been out of action since announcing he had leukemia in October, but there was reportedly a major plan in place for him at WrestleMania 35 prior to that.
When asked on Twitter about what Reigns would have done at WrestleMania if not for his diagnosis, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter noted that The Big Dog was set to face former Shield brother Dean Ambrose.
Since Reigns relinquished the Universal Championship in October, it stands to reason that Ambrose could have been a candidate to win the Royal Rumble.
Instead, the third Shield member, Seth Rollins, was victorious in the Rumble and will go on to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal title at WrestleMania.
On the same night Reigns announced his diagnosis, Ambrose attacked Rollins and turned heel in the process.
Now, Ambrose's future with WWE is in question since WWE released a statement in January announcing that he will leave the company when his contract expires in April.
There has been some debate regarding whether the statement is legitimate or part of a storyline, but Ambrose doesn't appear to be part of any grand plans heading toward WrestleMania.
Reigns vs. Ambrose likely would have been a main event-caliber match on the WrestleMania card. However, it is now possible that neither Superstar will be part of The Showcase of the Immortals.
Kingston's Comments on McMahon's Vision for New Day
Kofi Kingston is part of one of the most successful teams in WWE history in the form of The New Day, but getting to the top wasn't necessarily easy.
In an interview with B.J. Lisko of The Repository in Canton, Ohio, Kingston discussed how he, Big E and Xavier Woods took a challenging situation and turned it into something great:
"From the very inception of New Day, we told Vince McMahon no matter what he gave us we would be able to make it work, because we believe in the chemistry we had. Going back and forth with Vince, we had a very different idea of what we wanted it to be. The idea he came back with, we said, 'OK, he's really gonna test us on this guarantee we gave him of making anything he gave us work.' But we just kept doing it, and we evoked a lot of emotion from people, and really, that was what it was all about. Eventually, we kind of got to do what we first wanted, and over time it turned into what it is now."
When New Day first formed in 2014, it was a happy-go-lucky face faction that the fans rebelled against immediately.
The boos actually worked to the group's favor, though, as it eventually led to a heel turn and allowed New Day to become the entertaining trio that fans love today.
Kofi, Big E and Woods are still going strong as a top act on SmackDown Live, and there have been no signs that they're slowing down anytime soon.
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