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Rumor Look Back: Jan. 23 - 29, 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 23, 2023

  • Even though there is a lot of speculation that Vince McMahon will make a television appearance on RAW XXX, multiple outlets indicate this is unlikely to occur.
  • That did not happen. (1/1)
  • PW Insider says Lita and Booker T are set to be at RAW XXX tonight in Philadelphia.
  • Neither were on the show. Becky Lynch’s cage match with Bayley was cut for time (they ran an angle) and that’s where Lita was to make her appearance. (0/2)
  • Fightful says the Mountain Dew Pitch Black match between Bray Wyatt and LA Knight at Royal Rumble will include “neon elements.”
  • Sigh... that’s accurate. (1/1)
  • WWE has discussed bringing back both AOP and Paul Ellering, according to Fightful Select.
  • That did not happen. (0/1)
  • Video Game Chronicles and others report John Cena will be one of the cover stars of WWE 2K23. Reports are based on an alleged early posting to Microsoft’s online store which also listed a March 17, 2023 release date for the new edition of the game.
  • That’s the case. (1/1)
  • Colt Cabana’s been working as a producer for AEW recently, says the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
  • He’s probably not producing Collision.

January 23, 2023 (Raw XXX special)

  • There were pitches to involve Undertaker in a segment between Bray Wyatt & LA Knight. Taker’s usual in-character costume/gear was shipped to the Wells Fargo Center for tonight’s show.
  • That happened, though he was the American Badass and now the usual character. There was that “iconic moment” between Bray and Taker, but since Bray soon disappeared, it really didn’t resonate. The Megastar was there at least. (1/1)
  • The Bloodline segment was changed from an Acknowledgement Ceremony for Roman Reigns to a the Trial of Sami Zayn because several members of the Samoan Dynasty couldn’t be there — but not the one fans have been suspecting. Wrestling Observer says this had nothing to do with The Rock pulling out or Vince McMahon changing things.
  • That was a good segment. It also resulted in a favorite meme of mine.
  • Instead, the original plan was scrapped when Roman’s father Sika and uncle Afa of the Wild Samoans couldn’t make the trip, and The Usos & Solo Sikoa’s father Rikishi had to cancel because he got ill.
  • I wonder what this would have looked like.
  • Plans call for Kurt Angle to referee a match on the show.
  • He refereed an Imperium vs. Seth Rollins & Street Profits match. (1/1)
  • There’s also a Legends Poker Tournament planned. The Million Dollar belt is on hand and will likely be used in relation to this.
  • The poker happened but it wasn’t part of the game. Million Dollar Man just held it at one point. (1/2)
  • Ron Simmons is backstage, so expect an APA scene or two.
  • He was there but they didn’t do an APA bit. (0/1)
  • WWE officials hoped to have Brock Lesnar on tonight’s show, but it’s unknown if he will be. UPDATE: PWInsider says Lesnar is in Philly and will be appearing tonight.
  • He was there. He was feuding with Lashley at this time. (1/1)
  • Despite reports saying he would be there, Booker T said on his Hall of Fame podcast that he’s still in Houston and won’t be at Raw XXX.
  • That’s the case. (1/1)

January 24, 2023

  • WWE’s approached Steve Austin about facing Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 39, per Fightful Select. Sean Ross Sapp doesn’t know if Stone Cold agreed to the match, but heard Austin was offered “enormous” money. Prior to this, WWE’s offered Stone Cold a smaller money deal and at least one other “big name” opponent for this year’s ‘Mania. UPDATE: There’s a counter report here.
  • Dueling reports means we split ‘em. (1/2)
  • Perhaps related, Dave Meltzer said on Wrestling Observer Radio that “most” of the people he talks to at WWE have been of the opinion The Rock wouldn’t have time to work WrestleMania 39 “for months”.
  • His career slowed a bit here after his failed DC takeover, but he was still probably busy with the XFL and his tequila and whatever else he has his massive mitts in.
  • Speaking of time, Fightful says Raw XXX’s Becky Lynch/Bayley Steel Cage match was one of many things “trimmed” after The Bloodline trial went long. The Becky vs. Bayley segments were cut the most, as WWE was choosing between running an angle that gave them the option for a do-over later, or doing a cage match that only lasted a couple minutes.
  • These very good Bloodline segments have a habit of going long. That happened on SmackDown very recently. And while these segments draw big numbers, it is unfortunate for the rest of the show if they have to rush through their stuff. They should almost plan them a bit longer than initially anticipated so the rest of the show can be booked accordingly.
  • In light of their segment on Raw last night, WrestleVotes tweeted a story about Undertaker and Bray Wyatt. Taker reportedly told Vince McMahon to “take care of” Bray after their match at WrestleMania 31: “Taker has always been a huge Wyatt supporter.”
  • I can’t say Bray was well taken care of during his WWE run.
  • Having The Usos defend the Raw and SmackDown Tag Team belts separately is a Triple H idea, according to Wrestling Observer Newsletter. A source told Dave Meltzer that “the hope is it makes fans think it’s more likely somebody beats them for one set of belts.”
  • Eventually they lost both of them at the same time in the main event of WrestleMania night one.
  • The WON also says that a lot of New Japan stars have contracts coming up at the end of the month, and there have been discussions within WWE about trying to sign Jay White, Hikuleo, and Tama Tonga.
  • This did not sign any of them.

January 25, 2023

  • According to Wrestling Observer Radio, WWE knew it had to change plans for The Bloodline on RAW XXX even before SmackDown last week, which is why it was booked the way it was.
  • As in they knew the family wouldn’t be able to be there?
  • PW Insider says original plans called for Becky Lynch to beat Bayley in their Steel Cage match on Raw this week and then get jumped by Damage CTRL.
  • They eventually had Bayley win with the help of Lita who neutralized Damage CTRL. Not exactly the same as possibly originally planned.
  • The Wrestling Observer Newsletter notes Bobby Lashley has been pushing to redo The Hurt Business and the wheels are in motion for that to happen now.
  • Bobby has been meeting with the Street Profits and Carmelo Hayes & Trick Williams, but I don’t think it’d be the Hurt Business without MVP unless Bobby specifically calls it that.
  • Brian Cage’s contract with AEW is set to expire within weeks, says Fightful Select. They also say feelers were sent to gauge interest in WWE but it’s unclear what, if anything, came of that.
  • Cage ended up sticking around, with word he re-signed long term in April.
  • Stephen Amell says he’ll be at Royal Rumble in support of Cody Rhodes. There’s no word on if he’ll be involved in anything on the show.
  • He was not involved in the show.

January 26, 2023

  • While he couldn’t confirm it, PW Insider’s Mike Johnson has heard from several people backstage at WWE who expect Nia Jax to be a part of the women’s Royal Rumble match this weekend.
  • She was the surprised at #30 (though her music played too soon and it was an awkward reveal.) (1/1)
  • In happier news from Insider, Johnson says Mark Briscoe’s match last night was not a one-off. AEW can use him as they would anyone else moving forward.
  • Briscoe is a big part of AEW and ROH. (1/1)
  • “People of influence” at WWE were happy with how Raw XXX turned out, per Fightful Select.
  • It was a good show.
  • Speaking of Raw XXX, Insider reports Lita was in Philadelphia on Monday, but she was shooting material for A&E and not scheduled to appear on the anniversary show.
  • I bet she was going to appear until the cage match between Becky & Bayley was cut.
  • Mick Foley also shared on his Facebook that WWE invited him to Raw XXX, but he declined because he’s been on the road for the last month working on other projects.
  • Mick is often on the road for events.
  • Kon (formerly Konnor of The Ascension in WWE) told PW Torch he’s signed a multi-year contract with Impact.
  • Kon was part of the Design that Cody Deaner ran and now looks to be his muscle after the group finished.

January 27, 2023

  • On Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer mentioned that as of a couple weeks ago, WWE was not planning to have Sami Zayn win the men’s Royal Rumble match. Going further back, Meltzer says Zayn’s story with The Bloodline was originally planned to last only three weeks, but WWE kept going with it because Sami got over.
  • It sounds like they stuck with the overall plan but kept Zayn in the Bloodline longer. That did lead to them rushing the build to the title match at Elimination Chamber. Sami wasn’t even in the Rumble. (1/1)
  • Fightful Select says Ronda Rousey’s SmackDown women’s title defense against Raquel Rodriguez on the Dec. 30 episode was originally planned for Royal Rumble 2023. As of early December, there was an idea to book Bianca Belair vs. Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey vs. Rhea Ripley as the WrestleMania 39 women’s title matches.
  • We don’t know if those ideas changed between early December & late January but neither of those matches happened at WrestleMania.
  • The site goes on to say that before Rousey dropped the title to Flair, Ronda “was presented with several creative options, but they didn’t work out.” WWE then made the decision to move up the Rousey vs. Rodriguez match to Dec. 30 and have Flair beat Rousey for the title.
  • I believe an injury to Ronda played into the WrestleMania booking, but according to her, that injury occurred in February.
  • According to PW Insider, Vince McMahon was spotted at Titan Towers this week, and it looks like he’s back in his old office.
  • Probably jarring for folks to walk in on a Monday and see him there.
  • Per Meltzer, Bray Wyatt is listed as the number one babyface on the SmackDown brand.
  • Sure, maybe, but not for long.
  • Meltzer also claims Natalya “is hurt” and might not be ready in time for the women’s Royal Rumble match.
  • Nattie made the Rumble. (0/1)
  • Fightful notes that because Mark Briscoe’s debut match on Dynamite was a late addition to the show, time had to be trimmed from Darby Allin’s match and the Family Therapy segment in order to make room for Briscoe vs. Jay Lethal.
  • I wonder if they were still working out permissions regarding Briscoe with Warner.

January 28, 2023

  • According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Vince McMahon has not been taking part in creative meetings since his return to WWE, nor has he appeared at any TV tapings. McMahon previously had a reputation for working extremely late hours, but “he leaves work now at a normal time since his duties are lessened.”
  • Nowadays it sounds like he’s more of an overseeing than in the weeds like prior.
  • The Observer notes that pro-Stephanie people inside WWE say she chose to step down after her father’s return because she expected to be demoted anyway, and had already made the decision when she took a leave of absence last year that she didn’t need the job or the money.
  • This all feels like a power struggle that Stephanie lost.
  • Dave Meltzer writes that as of a couple days ago, Ronda Rousey is not scheduled to be in the women’s Royal Rumble match. She’s not booked for the show because WWE “didn’t want to marginalize her star power by being just someone in the match since she wasn’t going to win it or be the focal point.”
  • She was not on the show. If that’s the reason, that’s lame. There are plenty of big names in the Rumble that don’t win the Rumble. You can still do some interesting things with it. (1/1)
  • Meltzer adds that Charlotte Flair isn’t currently scheduled to be in the Royal Rumble match either, despite rumors suggesting otherwise.
  • Also true. (1/1)
  • Fightful Select says Kenny Omega has been off AEW television the last two weeks dealing with visa issues. Wrestling Observer Live’s Bryan Alvarez claims the visa issues almost caused Kenny to miss Game 7 against Death Triangle for the AEW world trios titles. Alvarez says the matter is now cleared up, and Omega is expected to return to TV next week.
  • I guess he’s a Canadian citizen still?
  • Wardlow has been off AEW television due to an injury, per WON, which is why they did the angle on the Dec. 28 Dynamite where Samoa Joe attacked him with a steel pipe and cut his hair. The injury isn’t expected to keep Wardlow out for long.
  • Wardlow was back in early February. (1/1)
  • PW Insider says Matthew Drew is the latest executive to leave WWE. He came over from DAZN to join WWE in June 2021 with the official title of Senior Vice President, International. It is unknown if he decided to leave on his own, or if WWE fired him.
  • A lot of shake up around this time.

January 28, 2023 Royal Rumble Edition

  • The site hasn’t been able to confirm it, but several people who claim to have connections at WWE swear to Fightful Select The Rock is showing up tonight.
  • The Rock did not show up. (0/1)
  • Dwayne Johnson posted an Instagram this morning about a late night filming on his Amazon movie Red One, but many people have pointed out Ronda Rousey did something similar before her debut at the 2018 Rumble.
  • Jericho was also a fan of this trick. They’ve worked using their Instagram, though this time it was not working.
  • There are multiple reports of Edge and Beth Phoenix being in town, say both PW Insider and Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer.
  • They were part of the show. (1/1)
  • Multiple outlets have also reported that the best selling merch in San Antonio this weekend has been Cody Rhodes.
  • Cody has been a top seller during his current run.
  • While Rhodes wasn’t medically cleared when his comeback videos started airing, Insider says he’s fully cleared now. Cody will be back on Raw full-time starting Monday.
  • That is the case. He won the Rumble. (1/1)
  • Cody and Rhea Ripley remained the favorites to win their respective Rumble matches when online sportsbooks posted their final odds before the show. Roman Reigns, Bianca Belair & Bray Wyatt are also favored to win their singles matches.
  • All these are correct, though those singles matches are gimmes. (5/5)
  • Bo Dallas is in town, according to Fightful. WWE has Uncle Howdy costumes on hand at the Alamodome.
  • We never got real confirmation that Bo was Uncle Howdy given the angle was just dropped and Bray disappeared, possibly due to injury.
  • Several WWE talents told Fightful they think Pat McAfee will return to the company soon. One said they heard McAfee’s name mentioned for the Rumble.
  • McAfee called this show and had a moment at WrestleMania. But it wasn’t a full time return, and he wasn’t in the Rumble. (0/2)
  • Matt Cardona has continued to tease a possible return to WWE on social media. Insider says talk at last week’s Impact tapings was that the former Zack Ryder is done with that promotion, and that he & wife Chelsea Green will show up tonight.
  • Chelsea showed up, but Matt is still working outside WWE. (1/2)
  • No NXT wrestlers were used in the Rumble matches last year, which Fightful says was the result of a “strict decree” at WWE. That’s not the case this year.
  • There were some NXT talents in the Rumble this year.
  • In fact, PW Insider says Indi Hartwell, Zoey Stark, Ivy Nile & NXT Women’s champion Roxanne Perez have been brought in for the show.
  • Ivy Nile was not in it but the rest were. (3/4)
  • Regarding the possibility of New Japan’s Jay White debuting tonight, Fightful says “NJPW sources claim he’s still under contract to them as of the Royal Rumble.”
  • He didn’t end up signing with WWE anyway.
  • Insider says that while Ric Flair was at one point going to be at the Rumble, he instead was the Grand Marshall at today’s Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa.
  • Sounds like Ric wasn’t working for a change.
  • Roster members not currently booked but reported to be in town for the Rumble include Dexter Lumis, Doudrop, Alpha Academy, Street Profits, Titus O’Neil, and Mia Yim.
  • We can’t speak to who was there but didn’t work the show, but Doudrop (now Piper Niven), both members of Alpha Academy, both members of the Profits, and Mia were booked for their Rumbles. (0/6)
  • This afternoon, CJ “Lana” Perry posted an Instagram video she made with Damian Priest in San Antonio.
  • She wasn’t in the Rumble but the video exists.

This week: 26/44 - 59%

Overall: 4,662/8,169 - 57.1%

Have a great week, everyone!

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