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Rumor Look Back: Jan. 16 - 22, 2023

Welcome to the weekly Rumor Look Back, where we look at the rumors from six months ago and see which played out as originally stated. Let’s jump right to it.

January 16, 2023

  • With Vince McMahon focused on the sale of WWE, Nick Khan is currently making the final call on other decisions at the company, per the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
  • With Stephanie out, that would leave Nick a sole position of their formerly shared power.
  • Fightful Select says WWE filmed something with John Cena and Austin Theory when the former came in for the Dec. 30 SmackDown show but it’s unclear what it would be used for.
  • It wasn’t part of their feud. Maybe a behind the scenes documentary? Not that that feud deserves a documentary in any world.
  • On the PWTorch VIP podcast, Wade Keller said that while Mercedes Moné isn’t “CM Punk level of unpopular” at WWE, “she has her critics, and the details I’ve been given indicate that she’s earned it.” He brought this up while saying he’s not surprised the former Sasha Banks apparently didn’t come to terms for a return to WWE or for an AEW debut.
  • That’s all very vague.
  • According to PW Insider, Doudrop is expected to return to WWE around the time of Royal Rumble. She will be on the Raw brand.
  • Doudrop returned as Piper Nevin in the Royal Rumble. She is on Raw (though she hasn’t been on Raw in a long time). (2/2)
  • Bill Simmons said on his podcast that he’s still working on the Vince McMahon documentary series for Netflix that was announced years ago.
  • I don’t know what the status of that is. Last word was it’s still on.
  • Cody Rhodes tabbed Carmelo Hayes and Joe Gacy to help him train in preparation for his return to the ring in WWE, says Fightful.
  • It is a big sign of respect to get chosen to help an established star train to return.

January 17, 2023

  • On Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer said he thinks it will be Bray Wyatt vs. Uncle Howdy at WrestleMania 39. He speculates that one reason for that is because “top guys” don’t want to work with Bray.
  • Bray wasn’t even at WrestleMania. LA Knight survived (and thrived) working a program with Bray though. (0/1)
  • Meltzer also believes there are a lot of people on the WWE roster nervous Vince McMahon will retake control of creative: “He [Vince] has a very different eye and mind for talent than Paul [Levesque, aka Triple H], and there’s a lot of guys there that Paul sees something in that Vince won’t.”
  • Even though Vince is on top of creative, it sounds like Triple H is still doing the leg work. And the important thing is the shows are still consistently entertaining.
  • He also said that Vince McMahon’s moves won’t have any impact on whether The Rock works WrestleMania. A sale to Saudi Arabia might, but since it’s very unlikely any sale will happen for months, Meltzer says Dwayne Johnson’s decision will solely come down to if he has time.
  • He didn’t work the show. Dwayne is a busy guy.
  • Regarding WWE’s decision to hold Money in the Bank in London’s O2 Arena rather than in a stadium as they did with Clash at the Castle in Wales, Fightful Select heard WWE wanted to ensure a sellout after last year’s edition of the event had to be moved to a smaller venue. They also view O2 as the “MSG [Madison Square Garden] of England.”
  • That was a hot hot crowd.
  • Fightful was again told there was never serious consideration to doing away with Money in the Bank as a standalone event, and that holding it in London is meant to further establish it as a “Big 5” event.
  • It’s too popular of an event to not run it as its own show. Plus there’s no time on the WrestleMania show for two ladder matches, even over two nights. It’s an anticipated event so it was never going to stop being its own event.
  • News about it will be embargoed until Feb. 1, but Insider Gaming reports 2K is showing footage of WWE 2K23 at Royal Rumble on Jan. 28.
  • Looks like some news was a bit sooner but the gameplay trailer was Feb. 1. We dug the game in our review.
  • Mercedes Moné filed a trademark on “The CEO”.
  • She’s referred to herself as such.
  • Both David Bixenspan and Bryan Alvarez say that Anna Jay was okay after the scary looking powerbomb spot she did with Willow Nightingale on the last Rampage.
  • That’s good. It’s a dangerous business.

January 18, 2023

  • Fightful Select notes that WWE has recently held “internal meetings for pitches” for the Royal Rumble.
  • You’d think they’d have more planned by this point. Though these could have just been the finer details.
  • Speaking of the Rumble, PW Insider says WWE will be treating it like an “all hands on deck” situation and will bring in even talent who aren’t working the show to do other projects for the company. This could include some NIL talents.
  • We don’t know what other projects were worked on during Rumble weekend.
  • They also say that Adam Hopkins leaving WWE has been described as the equivalent of Howard Finkel leaving, that’s how big of a deal he was on the public relations side of things. They also say he wasn’t the only recent exit from the company within PR for WWE.
  • I don’t think we know the reason behind the exit. One could speculate all the Vince stuff could have to do with it, but Hopkins worked under Vince for decades.
  • Per Fightful, WWE will be discontinuing featuring indie content on the WWE Network soon.
  • This was confirmed by some of those promotions later the same day. (1/1)
  • Bianca Belair and Montez Ford are being sent to the Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Kansas City Chiefs game on NBC this Saturday, says PW Insider.
  • Sounds like a fun time. I wonder if they said hi to Tony Khan while they were there.

January 19, 2023

  • New Day were scheduled to hold a “funeral” for Pretty Deadly’s title hopes on Tuesday’s NXT, but that segment was nixed after news of Jay Briscoe’s death reached Orlando, per John Pollock.
  • That was the way to go. Good quick thinking too.
  • Shawn Michaels, Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston changed the segment, according to Sean Ross Sapp. He also noted that Michaels made the call to have Vic Joseph acknowledge the Briscoe tragedy on the air.
  • It was a tough look for AEW, who had to wait to get permission from Warner to have tribute show. Not their fault, but still a weird look.
  • Former member & current critic of the Church of Scientology Aaron Smith-Levin believes Hulk Hogan is being recruited by the group through his current girlfriend. Hogan attended the NFL playoff game in Tampa on Monday night with prominent celebrity Scientologist Tom Cruise.
  • I don’t think we’ve had any updates about Hogan’s Scientology exploits.
  • Speaking of the Hulkster, Ric Flair said on his podcast that Hogan will be on Raw XXX next Monday.
  • Hulk opened the show with a promo putting over Xenu. (1/1)
  • Former NWA wrestler Colby Corino (son of former ECW & ROH talent and current NXT trainer/producer Steve Corino) is signing with WWE, reports Fightful Select.
  • While the process started, it was never completed due to some past legal issues, per Corino himself. (0/1)
  • That site also says WWE is bringing in independent wrestler Jason Cade to help produce the Women’s Royal Rumble. TJ Wilson, who along with Natalya has trained with Cade in the past, was instrumental in getting him on board for the Jan. 28 match.
  • I believe he stuck around as a producer. TJ often books the women’s Rumble and is a widely respected producer.
  • While we’re talking producers, Dave Meltzer said on Wrestling Observer Radio that Jeremy Borash is responsible for the videos leading to Cody Rhodes’ return that have been airing on Raw.
  • I’ll always have some love for JB from his Impact days.

January 20, 2023

  • A source told WrestleVotes that Cody Rhodes’ return to WWE at Royal Rumble was announced ahead of time for two reasons. The first reason is that “nearly everyone expected it to happen already.” The second reason is that WWE is “more than pleased” with the actual surprises that are planned for the event.
  • I don’t recall any really great surprises this year. None of the surprises in the men’s match popped (or was an actual surprise - many returns were heavily speculated). I think the biggest surprise in the women’s match was Asuka revealing her old murder clown persona. Doesn’t mean they weren’t pleased with it. Just that I think fans were overall underwhelmed with the actual surprises.
  • Naomi’s WWE contract was close to expiring at the time she walked out of the company with Sasha Banks in May. Prior to the situation that led to Naomi walking out, Fightful Select indicates that both sides were optimistic about agreeing to an extension that would have been the biggest money contract of her career.
  • Naomi is Knockouts champion in Impact.
  • Someone high up in WWE told Fightful there has been “positive contact” between both sides and they are confident that Naomi will return to the company.
  • She did not. She recently spoke about her exit- not giving details but discussed how big of a deal whatever happened was. (0/1)
  • PW Insider claims that AEW would have done a lot more to pay tribute to Jay Briscoe on Dynamite this week, but they couldn’t go beyond what “their broadcast partner” would allow them to do.
  • They eventually got the permission, but it was a bad look early on. Not that it was their fault and I’m sure they hated not being able to what they were eventually allowed to.
  • Insider also mentions that Tony Khan wanted to bring in more people for the ROH Jay Briscoe tribute show that was taped after Dynamite, but the short notice made it “logistically impossible” in some cases.
  • They eventually did a good tribute.
  • Wrestling Observer Radio’s Dave Meltzer said even though Nick Khan is supposed to be in charge of WWE’s hirings and firings right now, “the general assumption” among people in the company is that Vince McMahon was behind the decision to get rid of Vice President of Public Relations Adam Hopkins.
  • The man is a wrecking ball.
  • The Wrestling Observer Newsletter notes that WWE is hoping for a sale of the company “in the $8.5 billion range.” It was noted that analysts believe Comcast is capable of agreeing to a deal more in the range of “$7.4 billion to $8.2 billion.”
  • Amazingly, the got 9.3 billion.

January 21, 2023

  • Fightful Select claims Ronda Rousey was originally supposed to wrestle a singles match at Royal Rumble 2023, but as of last week, she is no longer planned to work the event.
  • She did not. (1/1)
  • The site adds that even though numerous veteran wrestlers have contacted WWE about a potential Royal Rumble appearance, WWE is leaning towards “non traditional surprises” in some cases.
  • There weren’t any major surprises, as we covered above. I don’t know how you’d classify “non traditional surprises” but none of the ones they had seemed different than what they usually do. Just not that exciting. (0/1)
  • Cody Rhodes was not medically cleared when WWE announced his return for the Royal Rumble match, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. But the fact he was announced leads Dave Meltzer to believe it’s just a formality.
  • He got there.
  • The Rock’s merchandise being added to WWE Shop is “more related to the 30th anniversary of Raw” than anything to do with his status for a WrestleMania program with Roman Reigns, sources told the WON.
  • The Rock hasn’t been back in WWE for awhile.
  • The Observer notes that Tony Khan made multiple attempts to get the Briscoes on AEW television. Jay & Mark were flown in several times, but Warner Bros. Discovery wouldn’t allow them to be used. They were supposed to be Jay Lethal’s partners for the All Out trios match against FTR & Wardlow, but the ban forced Khan to bring in Motor City Machine Guns’ Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley “out of nowhere”.
  • It was a shame that they couldn’t get Them Boys on TV. I understand Warner’s point, but it’s not like they didn’t have folks with sexual misconduct allegations on TV. It felt like they were picking and choosing which baggage they’d allow, likely focusing on the one where there’s video evidence. Not that what Jay said was acceptable, but he since apologized and it and, from word even prior to his death, he had legitimately learned from it and tried to atone for it.
  • WWE is “doing office cuts right now,” per Sean Ross Sapp.
  • Feels like no one is safe there.

This week: 5/9 - 56%

Overall: 4,636/8,125 - 57.1%

Have a great week, everyone!

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