Former WCW announcer and current freelance wrestling analyst Mark Madden is never quiet about his opinions (he's kind of the Skip Bayless of mainstream sports in my hometown of Pittsburgh), or unwilling to share backstage rumblings he hears from his connections.
This week, he was the guest on Jim Ross' podcast, The Ross Report, and dropped a little of both on JR and his listeners.
A couple of real hot button items coming out last Sunday's Royal Rumble in Philadelphia dealt with the state of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship seen - who's in it, and who isn't. One person rumored to be on his way out is the current titleholder, Brock Lesnar.
Whether or not The Beast Incarnate sticks around after WrestleMania 31 or bolts back to mixed martial arts, Madden says that WWE could have had him for more dates during his current run - and that they probably should have:
One thing I would do if I were WWE is...I don't know what it would take to keep Brock but i'd pay him. I know for a fact that Brock would be working more now if they just pay him his ‘per date.' They've been hesitant to do that. He's told them that he would be available for more work if they just paid him the same per date. They need to do that because I think what the Royal Rumble showed is he is by far their most over performer....maybe right there with Daniel Bryan.
Speaking of Bryan, Madden looks at how WWE has booked him since his surprise return announcement and thinks that we're right back where we were at this time last year for the same reason...management's low opinion of The Beard's marketability. Despite a year's worth of mainstream press and publicity appearances, his sources still claim that WWE thinks it's Daniel's chant that's a breakout hit - not the man himself:
I look at Daniel Bryan and I look at the way he was treated at the Rumble (on Sunday) and really barely being in there, and no matter how many times the fans cheer him and chant ‘YES'...they (WWE) don't believe in him. That's obvious and i've heard that from the inside as well. WWE management doesn't believe in him and they've convinced themselves that Bryan isn't what's over..that the ‘YES' chant is what's over and that's obviously insane.
Both his take and opinion on Lesnar make sense. Would Brock work ten more dates a year at the same rate? Probably. Does he pop crowds like nobody's business? You bet, especially with the way Vince has booked him since WM 30.
On Bryan, I'm not so sure. They clearly believe in him, or they wouldn't have him all over every property they promote from Total Divas to Slam City, and they wouldn't have used him prominently the second they learned he was cleared to wrestle. But they also seem to think the YES chant is cheap pop (even having Big Show use it), and are probably as hesitant as ever to place him prominently in the main event after his recent injury hiatus.
What do you think, Cagesiders? Do Mark Madden's claims hold water, or is this a lot of hot air? And, if true, does this info on the Beast and the Beard change your take on either man or how WWE uses them?
(Thanks to rajah.com for transcription of the quotes!)