Two of Wale’s passions collided Wednesday afternoon, as the Washington, D.C., native was first announced as a performer for the team’s Draft Day Party.
Then, the diehard wrestling fan got some congrats thrown his way from “The Bad Guy” himself, as former WWE and WCW star Scott Hall tweeted at him.
For those of you who might not know Hall, or understand Wale’s passion for pro wrestling, here’s a quick recap.
Hall started in WWE as Razor Ramon, or as “The Bad Guy,” before being a founding member of the infamous New World Order (NWO) group with Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014.
Wale, meanwhile, tweets about pro wrestling all the time and was even at Wrestlemania last month in Santa Clara, Calif., where he met Hall himself.
April 17, 2015
According to a report from PWInsider.com, WWE officials sent a cease and desist letter to ProWrestlingTees.com shortly after WrestleMania, ordering them to remove certain items from the official store of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
While the former WWE Champion maintains that there’s little-to-no heat between him and the company, it’s being said there is still frustration from the WWE side over Austin turning down “Tough Enough” and not appearing at this year’s WrestleMania.
WWE NXT General Manager William Regal reportedly told fans in the UK at his one-man shows this week that plans are being worked on for NXT to tour internationally with shows in smaller arenas. Regal apparently said the business plan for the touring was in place and it will begin within 18 months.
WWE is planning a "The Kliq Rules" DVD and Blu-ray set for a July 28th release. The "reunion" special has been planned for months, according to WrestlingDVDNews.com, and a condensed version will be airing on the WWE Network in the near future. The DVD is expected to contain the reunion show, a new documentary and matches. The reunion was originally planned for September but it's been moved up to July. No word yet on when The Kliq reunion will air on the WWE Network.
According to a report by Brian Fritz of the Sporting News, it seems as if TNA Wrestling is experiencing more pay issues, fueling the fire to rumors of talent getting late checks over the past several weeks.
The story says that several freelance workers have stated that TNA is behind on paying several members of the production staff. It was also said that those workers were shorted on past checks.
The back pay stems from the One Night Only tapings, which took place over two months ago. The accounting department told an employee that checks were made out almost two weeks ago, but nobody has received them.
We also heard similar complaints from one member of the production crew.
We spoke to Matt Hardy earlier in the week, who said the following regarding the TNA pay rumors:
"If someone has an issue with pay, I feel like it needs to be directed to the office and handled there. It sucks and it's unfortunate that a story like that spreads and puts a stain on Impact Wrestling, who are doing a lot of positive things right now. TNA has been extraordinary to me, nothing but professional. They even gave me time off at the last TV tapings to fulfill a commitment I had for 8 months, when they needed me at TV. That shows how professional they were to the boys. It's nowhere near as bad as what people are saying."
April 15, 2015
Mick Foley's official website announced that he will tape one of his comedy shows on April 24th from Full Sail University for a future WWE Network airing. Tickets go on sale Friday morning. More details are at this link.
John Gaburick, TNA Executive Vice President, Creative & Talent Relations, announced today that Taz is gone from the company. This comes after recent issues stemming from TNA paying late. Gaburick wrote:
"After 5+ years TNA & Taz have mutually decided to part ways. A champ in the ring & on the mic, we wish him nothing but success!"
Taz also commented:
"Like to thank TNA Wrestling for the opportunity to apply my craft for past several years. Best wishes to them in the future."
The WWE Intercontinental Champion Daniel Bryan had apparently been removed from the current European tour, likely due to ongoing health issues.
Following Tuesday's SmackDown tapings in London, where Bryan teamed with John Cena, the decision was made by WWE officials to pull Bryan from the rest of the tour.
WWE issued the following statement:
"Daniel Bryan has been pulled from the remainder of the UK tour as a precautionary measure."
In the video above, WWE Hall of Famer Ricky Steamboat confirms the status of his son Richie Steamboat. There has been a lot of speculation on Richie's status after he was taken out of action following a back surgery a few years ago. Ricky confirms that Richie will not be able to wrestle anymore.
Ricky noted that Richie, a former FCW Champion, injured 4 discs in his back and has had surgery but won't be able to follow in his footsteps. Ricky added that his son "gets it" and has the look for the business.
Ricky also discusses the WWE World Heavyweight Title picture coming out of WrestleMania 31 and breakout talents that have came from NXT.
April 14, 2015
TNA Wrestling announcer Taz appears to be at odds with the company, according to a report from PWInsider.com.
According to the report, Taz was supposed to attend a voice-over session this past Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee in order to record commentary for several weeks of Impact Wrestling tapings. However, Taz reportedly refused to fly to Nashville from New York, and the main factor is said to be the ongoing pay issues that have been plaguing TNA Wrestling as of late.
Taz has since removed any and all references to TNA Wrestling from his official Twitter page, and PWInsider.com further states that one of their sources declined to comment when they were asked about Taz's current relationship with the company.
In regards to the recording of commentary, it's being reported that Josh Mathews handled the duties himself in regards to the episode of Impact Wrestling that will air this coming Friday on Destination America; however, it was also noted that this could end up changing due to TNA Wrestling having until Thursday to hand the show over to the network.
There were reports of TNA being behind on talent pay. PWInsider reports that talents have started to receive their checks and F4Wonline.com backs this report up, saying checks started arriving this past Friday and continued arriving Saturday and Monday. One source stated to PWInsider that talents would be receiving their March checks earlier than scheduled to try and make up for the previous delays.
Dave Meltzer described things in TNA as a lot worse than they were at the end of the Spike TV run. While talents have started receiving checks, there's still a lot of unhappiness across the company with the feeling that there is no momentum and they're not going anywhere.
Another significant problem within TNA right now is Destination America. The network is reportedly calling a lot of the shots in TNA these days with the idea that they are paying TNA and running so many hours of their programming.
Destination America officials reportedly do not like TNA Impact Wrestling being taped from the UK. They do not know the pro wrestling business at all but they didn't like the idea of TV taped outside of America airing on their Destination America channel. Destination America may not have a problem with TNA running a yearly tour overseas but they have made it clear they want Impact taped in the US most of the time.
Destination America officials wanted Kurt Angle to be the World Heavyweight Champion as they liked the idea of the champion on their network being an American gold medalist. They also are high on Taryn Terrell as Knockouts Champion because of her look.
The WWE Network allows subscribers to watch every single WWE pay-per-view that’s ever happened along with a number of original shows and classic episodes of Monday Night Raw, but there are still countless hours of weekly programming that still haven’t been released on the network. The WWE patched a big hole Monday, releasing every episode of Monday Night Raw from the first year of the Attitude Era — the period of time dominated by the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock...More?
Linda McMahon had about 97 million reasons to be done with politics.
The financial hit of back-to-back defeats for the U.S. Senate hasn't suppressed the professional wrestling matriarch's appetite for the Republican brand, however.
In fact, it appears to have strengthened it, with McMahon commanding VIP invites to GOP conclaves from Wyoming to New Hampshire with other rainmakers to be wooed by the party's crop of presidential hopefuls.
Federal filings show McMahon has given more than $3 million to Republican candidates and organizations since her last run in 2012, including $700,000 to Karl Rove's American Crossroads super PAC and $100,000 to an Iowa political fund that helped combat veteran and proud pig castrater Joni Ernst get elected to the Senate.
McMahon, 66, is still behaving in many ways like a candidate, Tweeting photos from her regular speaking engagements at women's entrepreneurial events and charity appearances.
All of this begs the question: What's in it for McMahon?
"Some of the rest of these activities hint at someone who might not be ready to give up on the idea of electoral politics," said Vincent Moscardelli, an assistant political science professor at the University of Connecticut.
April 13, 2015
UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey appeared on Piper's Pit With Roddy Piper this week and talked about her experience at this year's WrestleMania. Rousey also said that if it's up to her, she'll be back in the WWE ring.
"There's no way I'm not going back in there, though," said Rousey. "There's nothing like it. The second left, I was thinking how I could possibly go back. I hadn't even got out of my outfit yet."
Rousey said that she was nervous , but was trying to play it cool. She noted that being in a pro wrestling ring is much different than MMA, especially when it comes to nerves. She also said that working alongside the Rock and Triple H was a tall task.
"It's a tricky thing having (The Rock). He's so good at putting people over, he holds the room so intensely it's hard to not be outshone by him. Triple H and the Rock could be one of the biggest rivalries of all-time, how can we make a situation where we ignore them? That's a lot of pressure, to be captivating enough to ignore them," Rousey said.
She also said the throw she used on Triple H wasn't the one she'd planned.
"That wasn't even a throw I was planning. I made it up on the spot. I pulled it out of my ass, I don't even know what that is. It was kind of awesome to see everything planned, and everything that doesn't go according to plan. Everything that didn't go the way we wanted to go was we better than we even could have thought of," said Rousey.
Rousey and her training partners and fellow fighters Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir are huge pro wrestling fans and are collectively known as the "Four Horsewomen." Baszler also appeared for Ring of Honor, coming to the aid of former tag team champions ReDRagon.
Rousey goes on to talk about the bad blood between her and upcoming opponent Bethe Correia, what the UFC wouldn't let her do in movies, and several other topics. You can listen to the full interview over at Podcast One.
According to a new report from PWInsider, TNA Impact Wrestling talents are once again dealing with pay issues. One source is claiming that most of the wrestlers are now behind on two payments from the company, while a few others are saying that they are owed money from the month of February.
This is not the first time that such reports have come out over the past year or so but it's apparently become a growing problem once again over the past few weeks.
A company source has denied that TNA is behind on two payments to the wrestlers, but reportedly did admit that the company is behind on cutting checks to the wrestlers because they no longer cut the checks in Nashville. The checks are now being outsourced to a company in Dallas, Texas, near TNA's parent company Panda Energy. The department that was handling TNA's checks completely shut down recently due to Panda Energy moving their offices.
Information in a lawsuit filed by WWE in California last month to stop unlicensed merchandise being sold by outside vendors during WrestleMania 31 week included the full WWE schedule through March 28th, 2016, including the future pay-per-view locations and dates for NXT specials that we posted. Chris "Mookie" Harrington has recapped some more of the information and it was revealed WWE will be assigning letter codes to each city they visit - A, B+, B and C. It appears the grades are for the overall drawing power of the city based on WWE's previous visit. Some cities appear in more than one category because different letter grades are assigned on different trips, sometimes because one visit is a TV taping and another visit is for a live event.
Harrington gave this breakdown:
A: 70 examples (minimum: 3,500; maximum 15,913) - average: 9,235
B+: 32 examples (minimum: 3,122; maximum 14,481) - average: 7,608
B: 48 examples (minimum: 2,626; maximum 12,717) - average: 6,496
C: 61 examples (minimum: 2,230; maximum 6,996) - average 4,546
Overall Average: 7,002
"A" Cities: Anaheim, CA, Atlanta, GA, Baltimore, MD, Boston, MA, Bridgeport, CT, Brooklyn, NY, Buffalo, NY, Chicago, IL, Cincinnati, OH, Columbus, OH - Schottenstein Center, Dallas, TX, Denver, CO, Detroit, MI, Hartford, CT, Hildalgo, TX, Houston, TX, Jackson, MS, Kansas City, MO, Los Angeles, CA, Miami, FL, Minneapolis, MN, Nashville, TN, New York, NY, Newark, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, Pittsburgh, PA, Portland, OR, Providence, RI, San Antonio, TX, San Jose, CA - SAP Center, St. Louis, MO, Tampa, FL, Toronto, ON - Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON - Ricoh Coliseum, Washington, DC, White Plains, NY, Wildwood, NJ
"B+" Cities: Albany, NY, Anaheim, CA, Anchorage, AK, Bangor, ME, Birmingham, AL, Bridgeport, CT, Calgary, AB, Cincinnati, OH, Corpus Christi, TX, Daytona Beach, FL - Ocean Center, Des Moines, IA, East Lansing, MI, Edmonton, AB, Fairbanks, AK, Fort Myers, FL, Fresno, CA, Greenville, SC, Hampton, VA, Hershey, PA, Jonesboro, AR, Lafayette, LA, Laredo, TX, Lincoln, NE, Little Rock, AR, Loveland, CO, Memphis, TN, Milwaukee, WI, Montreal, QC, Nashville, TN, Ontario, CA, Orlando, FL - Amway Center, Roanoke, VA, Rochester, NY, Sacramento, CA, Salt Lake City, UT - Maverik Center, San Juan, PR, Stockton, CA, Syracuse, NY, Tampa, FL, Tulsa, OK, Uncasville, CT, Wilkes Barre, PA, Winnipeg, MB
"B" Cities: Austin, TX, Bakersfield, CA, Calgary, AB, Cleveland, OH, Dayton, OH, Edmonton, AB, Everett, WA, Fresno, CA, Hartford, CT, Indianapolis, IN, Knoxville, TN, Louisville, KY - YUM Center, Milwaukee, WI, Montreal, QC, New Orleans, LA, Oklahoma City, OK, Omaha, NE, Phoenix, AZ, Portland, OR, Rochester, NY, Sacramento, CA, San Diego, CA, San Jose, CA - SAP Center, Seattle, WA, St. Louis, MO, Trenton, NJ, Tulsa, OK, Winnipeg, MB
"C" Cities: Amarillo, TX, Augusta, GA, Bakersfield, CA, Baton Rouge, LA, Beaumont, TX, Binghamton, NY, Bloomington, IL, Bossier City, LA, Bowling Green, KY, Canton, OH, Casper, WY, Cedar Rapids, IA, Charlotte, NC, Charlottesville, VA, Chattanooga, TN, Colorado Springs, CO, Columbia, SC, Columbus, GA, Daytona Beach, FL - Ocean Center, Erie, PA, Evansville, IN, Fairfax, VA, Fargo, ND, Fayetteville, NC, Fort Myers, FL, Green Bay, WI, Huntsville, AL, Jackson ,TN, Jacksonville, FL, Johnson City, TN, Jonesboro, AR, Kalamazoo, MI, Laredo, TX, Macon, GA, Mobile, AL, Montreal, QC, North Charleston, SC, Odessa, TX, Peoria, IL, Rockford, IL, Salisbury, MD, Savannah, GA, Sioux City, IA, Sioux Falls, SD, Springfield, IL, Syracuse, NY, Tallahassee, FL, Toledo, OH, Tupelo, MS, Vancouver, BC, Victoria, BC, Waco,TX, Wilkes Barre, PA, Worcester, MA
Former TNA Knockout Sarita, who still works for CMLL as Sarah Stock, is working as a guest trainer at the WWE Performance Center this week, according to PWInsider. Former WWE and WCW star Dave Taylor is also working as a guest trainer with the NXT talents this week.
WWE and Susan G. Komen Team Up Once Again to Raise Funds for Breast Health and Research in Washington, D.C.
WWE today announced that a new, international class of 11 recruits, including former collegiate athletes, bodybuilders and talent from the independent wrestling circuit, from seven countries have begun training at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla. The WWE Performance Center is the home of NXT, the developmental division for WWE. With seven training rings, a world-class strength and conditioning program and cutting-edge edit and production facilities, the Performance Center will allow the new class to hone their skills through a comprehensive program that includes in-ring training, physical preparedness and character development.
“The global reach of WWE is reflected in the diversity of this class of NXT recruits,” said Paul “Triple H” Levesque, WWE Executive Vice President, Talent, Live Events and Creative. “Talent is the most important natural resource we have, and these individuals will have every opportunity to hone their skills and fulfill their dream of becoming a WWE Superstar or Diva at the WWE Performance Center.”
The new NXT class includes:
Cassie McIntosh (Born in Sydney, resides in Melbourne, Australia) — Trained with Pro Wrestling Alliance in Sydney since 2011. In 2012, was trained by former WWE Superstar Lance Storm, who now runs the Storm Wrestling Academy. Proficient in dance and acrobatics.
Jessica McKay (Sydney, Australia) — Since 2008, has trained with the Pro Wrestling Alliance in Sydney, as well as Ring of Honor.
Nhooph Al-Areebi (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) — Trained with Squared Circle since 2011 and was a member of the Toronto Circus School from 2008-2012. Also trained in rhythmic gymnastics. Speaks English and Arabic.
Axel Tischer (Dresden, Germany) — Trained with GWF Wrestling in Berlin, Germany, since 2006. Served in the German Army from 2005-2007, achieving the rank of Private First Class.
Oscar Vasquez (Cuidad Juarez, Mexico) — Trained in Juarez in the lucha libre style of wrestling. Worked with CWF Mid-Atlantic. Dual citizen of Mexico and the U.S.
Radomir Petkovic (Belgrade, Serbia) — European Vice Champion at the 2010 European Wrestling Championships and was a two-time bronze medalist at 2009 Mediterranean Games in Greco-Roman and Freestyle. Speaks Russian and English.
Peter Howard (Exeter, England) — Played collegiate Rugby in the U.K. and was a regional discus champion.
Kenneth Crawford (Chicago, Illinois/Anson County, North Carolina) — Served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years and accumulated a perfect 300 score in the United States Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test. Holds the North Carolina South Piedmont and Anson High School records in the 200-meter, 400-meter and 4x4 relay. Anson High School Athlete of the Year in 2007.
Thomas Kingdon (Traverse City, Michigan) — Competed in amateur bodybuilding and won the super-heavyweight class at the 2013 NPC Central States Competition.
Sesugh Uhaa (Atlanta, Georgia) — High school soccer, football and track-and-field star. Began training in 2009 and competed for Dragon Gate USA. Nigerian descent.
Levis Valenzuela Jr. (Durham, North Carolina) — Trained with CWF Mid-Atlantic in 2013. Proficient in dance and won various awards for collegiate ballroom dancing. Holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from UNC Charlotte. Grew up in the United States, lived in South Korea from 2011-2013, and speaks Spanish.
The new class will join a group of 55 men and women training out of the state-of-the-art, 26,000 square-foot WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. The venue offers a full training experience with real-time feedback from WWE coaches, trainers and doctors, giving performers the resources they need to develop their talent both athletically and creatively. Additionally, recruits will be immersed in WWE’s Professional Development program that focuses on four key pillars of development: life skills, education, wellness and career success.
April 12, 2015
Chris Jericho revealed last week that his live WWE Network podcast with John Cena was the third most-watched special in WWE Network history besides live pay-pr-view events. The first two most-watched special were Steve Austin's interviews with Vince McMahon and Triple H, so Jericho's interview didn't beat those but did beat the WWE Hall of Fame ceremonies, all Takeover specials and last year's Ultimate Warrior specials.
WWE has announced the Divas for the #1 Contender Battle Royal on Monday's RAW from London - Natalya, Naomi, Emma, Rosa Mendes, Summer Rae, Alicia Fox, Cameron, Brie Bella and Paige. As noted, the winner will face WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella at Extreme Rules.
April 10, 2015
The guys suing the WWE over alleged brain injuries are a bunch of "nobodies" brainwashed by lawyers to believe they can score a quick buck ... at least according to a WWE lawyer.
TMZ Sports broke the story ... Big Russ McCullough, Ryan Sakoda and Luther Reigns claim the WWE has known for years its athletes are suffering brutal and debilitating injuries, but it's only interested in making big money.
We spoke to Jerry McDevitt, WWE’s outside counsel from K&L Gates. He tells us the guys -- who only wrestled for a short time -- are "being targeted by attorneys who tell them there's hundreds of thousands of dollars they can make by joining a class action suit like this."
McDevitt adds, "We know these claims are fraudulent, and will fight them."
He claims other wrestlers who've been approached to join the suit think it's a scam. McDevitt believes the suit spends more time talking about Chris Benoit and other wrestlers than it does the actual plaintiffs.
"It's sensational, but if you really look at ... what was done specifically to them?" McDevitt says. "There are almost no details as to what they actually suffered as a result of working with WWE."
Among the details included in the suit -- the plaintiffs say they were forced to wrestle, even when they'd suffered injuries like torn ligaments and concussions.
McDevitt says no WWE wrestlers were complaining they'd suffered brain damage or dementia. before the lawyers started contacting them. He says the WWE will ultimately prevail.
As noted, former WWE stars Luther Reigns, Russ McCullough and Ryan Sakoda have filed a new class action concussion lawsuit against WWE.
According to PWInsider.com, the lawsuit, which is 47 pages long and is almost word-for-word the same as past concussion lawsuits filed against WWE by other former stars, alleges the talents were “forced to wrestle injured or you lost your job.”
Ryan Sakoda furthers that WWE runs by “intimidation and abuse”, and does not discuss or treat concussions or its symptoms. Sakoda said he suffered a concussion back in 2013 after taking a superkick, and was told by WWE’s medical staff not to go to sleep or he might die. Sakoda says WWE disregarded his health and safety to the point that it left him traumatized. He also claims he suffers from numerous symptoms including memory loss, severe depression, severe migraines and headaches.
Russ McCullough claims he was struck unconscious in a WWE ring back at a live event in Cincinnati, Ohio and was then hit with 15 chair shots without WWE’s trainers intervening. When McCullough complained to WWE after the incident, he says he was told “not our problem.” McCullough says he suffers from severe depression, severe migraines, memory loss, headaches and panic attacks that have resulted in over 40 emergency room visits since he retired from the ring.
Luther Reigns claims he was once knocked out by Big Show, and even after he vomited as a result, he was not given any medical treatment by WWE. Reigns added there was a “code of silence” amongst the wrestlers with regards to disclosing injuries or concussion symptoms. Reigns says he suffered numerous concussions that went untreated during his time in WWE. He says he suffers from severe fatigue, dizziness and severe short term and long term memory loss. The suit says Reigns is unable to remember much of his life.
Three wrestlers have sued the WWE on behalf of all current and former wrestlers who have suffered serious brain and other damage as a result of "egregious mistreatment" by the organization.
Big Russ McCullough, Ryan Sakoda and Luther Reigns (obvious stage names) claim the WWE has known for years ... the brutality in the ring has resulted in dementia, Alzheimer's disease and a lot more.
The lawsuit -- obtained by TMZ -- claims the WWE, "under the guise of providing 'entertainment' .... has for decades subjected its wrestlers to extreme physical brutality."
The suit acknowledges wrestling is scripted but nonetheless unrelentingly brutal, claiming "WWE is in the business of selling violence."
The legal docs chronicle various matches in which wrestlers were destroyed. It mentions the 2014 Royal Rumble, in which one wrestler "demolished another with a series of brutal steel chair attacks," and the docs refer to "the carnage created by the match's victor."
The lawsuit gives an interesting inside look into wrestling, saying the goal of the WWE is to elicit "heat," meaning heightened violence with the use of various props, including chairs, ladders and tables. The suit singles out various moves, including the Brain Buster, Bulldog, Cobra Clutch Slam, Facebreaker, Jawbreaker and Powerslam. It singles out the chair shots to the head, which was banned in 2010.
The suit claims, "The WWE coerces its wrestlers to work while they are injured by, among other methods, threatening to strip them of their position within the organization if they refuse." It says they are "universally encouraged to 'wrestle through the pain.'"
And the lawsuit mentions Chris Benoit, who was "routinely hit in the head with a chair." Benoit, who killed his wife and son along with himself, was autopsied after his death. A doctor concluded Benoit's brain was so damaged from CTE, it "resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer's patient."
The suit asks for an injunction, prohibiting the WWE from subjecting its wrestlers to such brutality, along with damages.
Former WWE NXT Superstar CJ Parker, now going by CJP on the indies, recently spoke with RollingStone.com about his WWE departure. The full interview can be found at this link. Below are some highlights:
If he was disappointed that his NXT character was used to put others over:
It wasn't disappointing at all. To me, that's a compliment. They have faith in you and they know you can go out there with anybody and make them look great. You can take the things that they're really good at and amplify them. Everybody wants to be the guy who's the star, the guy who everyone is looking at and the guy who the company is trying to get over. But sometimes you're the other guy, and it's your job to look as good as you can while making them look even better. It's a compliment. When you're a kid and you want to be a wrestler, you want to be a great wrestler. You want to be somebody who's looked up to by his peers and the powers that be. At the very least, I did what was asked of me, and I did it to the best of my abilities. That wasn't frustrating at all.
How WWE developmental has changed since he arrived in 2011:
Everything. It was everything times 100. The roster got bigger, the coaching staff got bigger, the facility got bigger, what was expected of you as a performer got bigger. It went from FCW to NXT and got bigger, badder and better. It was classic WWE. When they want something to take off, it does. That's exactly what the developmental system did in the past couple years. We didn't do as many live events [in 2011]. There weren't as many people coming to the live events that we did do for FCW. The TV show obviously changed a lot. There was one camera then, instead of four or five at Full Sail. NXT at Full Sail is like a mini-Raw. Back in FCW, it was pretty much like a live event with one camera. There wasn't really much pressure on you. But everything got bigger. We became stars in a way. At FCW, nobody really knows you, it was on its own island from the rest of the WWE. But then, when Triple H put his hand into it and put the time and energy into the developmental system, it grew and became its own brand. And that's exactly what NXT is, it's not really developmental anymore, it's the third brand.
If the developmental label is misapplied to NXT:
If you're talking about the show that's on Wednesday nights on the WWE Network, then no, I don't think that's developmental. However, if you walk into the Performance Center on a Monday morning and see some of the guys who are just starting and just learning the basics, that is developmental. I think a lot of people don't realize that on the TV show there's only about 20 guys featured, but at the PC there's about 60 guys. There's a lot of guys there who are trying to learn the business and prove themselves and earn their way onto the TV show. So there is still developmental, but when you start to get to the top of the roster, you become just a smaller version of a main-roster superstar. In my eyes, it's like Triple H's version of an independent wrestling show, but with WWE backing. It's the best of both worlds. He's getting people from all over the world and bringing them here and putting them under the WWE umbrella. It's great and it's going to stay great.
What it's like working with Triple H:
He's the best, man. He's so passionate, so smart. He's a great guy. He's very hands-on with everyone. He's the kind of guy who, once you have your match, he'll pull you aside and tell you what you did right, what you did wrong and what you could have done differently. He's constructive and he makes you feel good. He lets you know that it's all right to make mistakes as long as you learn from those mistakes. He's the man and NXT is his baby. It's cool to watch him be excited about NXT. It's cool to see how proud he is of what he and all of us are doing down there.
April 9, 2015
At The National Sports Journalism Center's website, Michael Bradley has an editorial about ESPN's seemingly sudden adoption of WrestleMania as a legitimate sports event deserving of their coverage. It's also, to an extent, a reaction to Richard Deitsch's Sports Illustrated article about how this all came about.
Bradley's argument, overall, is that while it's not out of line for ESPN to give WWE coverage, covering it like it's a legitimate sporting event creates ethical issues if it was done solely to get more eyeballs on the network and its related properties. In a key passage, he writes:
"Forging alliances with legitimate leagues is one thing. Trying to build an audience by making something that isn't real sport seem more legitimate is far more cynical and potentially explosive. First comes the WWE. Then come full highlights of the Globetrotters' next game. After all, that team has fans all around the world."
Bradley also adds that "It's fun to talk about Lesnar and his fellow rasslers, but it's not journalism," but it's not clear if he means that it's not sports journalism or that he feels pro wrestling coverage inherently can't be journalism.
April 8, 2015
TNA star Kurt Angle recently did an interview with Sports Illustrated, and when the subject of negotiating with WWE back when he was a free agent came up, Angle had the following to say:
“Paul [Levesque] is in charge. I found that out when I contacted Vince [McMahon]. I’ve always had a good relationship with Paul, so I didn’t consider that a problem. But he decided they had enough talent. For the Vince McMahon who I knew, enough was never enough. He always wanted more. I don’t know what was going on over there, but they even canceled our meeting. I never went to see them. They didn’t even sit me down and talk to me.
It blew my mind. It was as if I was a nobody, that I wasn’t Kurt Angle. From a wrestling standpoint, they just weren’t interested. But TNA not only stepped up, they gave me everything I wanted – the dates, the money, and it’s no secret that I’ve went to rehab in the past, and they gave me time off. You talk about a company that’s loyal to you, and you want to be loyal back. So I didn’t pursue the WWE any further. When it comes down to it, you’ve got to stick with the people who want to take care of you. And [TNA president] Dixie Carter took care of me.” Click here for the full interview.
PWInsider is reporting that Las Vegas promotion Paragon Pro Wrestling informed the talent in their locker room last night that the company would soon be announcing a national television deal.
The deal will be with Pop TV, formerly known as the TV Guide Network. The channel is available in standard definition on both DirecTV and Dish Network, and high definition on Verizon FiOS. The channel is a joint venture between CBS Corporation and Lions Gate Entertainment.
The company features talent from the southern California area, and has also seen the likes of former WWE talent Gangrel and Victoria as well. It appears as if former TNA announcer Todd Kenely will be handling announcing duties for the show.
PWInsider also reports that the company, owned by Jeff Manning, taped television last night and had state of the art equipment on hand. Current Lucha Underground announcer Matt Striker is rumored to be directing and producing.
The roster was told that the show will debut this summer.
April 7, 2015
WWE has announced a Divas Battle Royal for next week's RAW from London with the winner earning a shot at Divas Champion Nikki Bella.
It was noted on last night's WWE RAW that Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were absent because they were on a tropical vacation somewhere with no cell reception.
Stephanie could be off WWE TV for up to 4-5 weeks if reports of her being overseas with the Eisenhower Fellows Multi Nation Program are true.
We noted back in October 2014 that Stephanie was announced as a 2015 Eisenhower Fellow with 8 other executives from around the world.
Beginning April 5th, the Eisenhower Fellows in the MNP program were scheduled to go on a 4-5 week trip visiting one or two countries that they selected from a list of 42 potential destinations, including Australia, India, Nigeria, Bangladesh and others. We don't know for sure that Stephanie is on the Eisenhower Fellows trip, however Dave Meltzer noted on Wrestling Observer Radio that it was scheduled to begin April 5th so the dates do match up.