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Rumor Look Back: Feb. 20 - 26, 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.

February 20, 2023

  • According to Fightful Select, the rumors of Triple H being underwhelmed by wrestlers he brought back aren’t accurate and, in fact, many of those brought back were told roster depth was a big reason for their return.
  • We don’t know how he felt. But both could be true at the same time - they don’t necessarily conflict. It feels like a lot of the signings were much needed depth moves. But someone like Karrion Kross debuted in a segment involving Roman Reigns - that’s not a depth move. That’s trying to establish a main event guy. And he hasn’t sniffed that level of main event since. Maybe they somehow get back there but right now, we’re not there.
  • WrestleVotes told GiveMeSport that “Triple H tasked the creative team with coming up with ideas for Jay White’s debut, should he join WWE.” That report also claimed Kota Ibushi’s name came up at a recent meeting about potential free agent signings.
  • I wonder how they would have booked someone like Jay White, who feels like a better fit for AEW. But I’m always curious how a signing like that would be presented in the E under Triple H.
  • A rumor apparently went around about Ace Steel being at Royal Rumble to negotiate CM Punk’s return to WWE. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter says that Steel wasn’t at the Rumble, and that Punk is still under contract to AEW.
  • Steel still isn’t allowed in the AEW buildings so he could stop by WWE and try to negotiate. (Though Punk was still under contract.)
  • Per Fightful, WWE is still interested in bringing back the Authors of Pain and Paul Ellering is “heading up negotiating the deal.”
  • The Authors did not return, even with Ellering’s input.
  • The Wrestling Observer says that Riho could be back in AEW “as early as next week or soon thereafter.”
  • She wrestled Diamonte this week (and won). (1/1)
  • On the FTR with Dax Harwood podcast, Dax said that even though he and Cash Wheeler are taking time off from AEW right now, they would return early if Tony Khan asks them to.
  • They ended up re-signing with AEW.
  • says Colby Corino signed a contract with WWE last week and he will report to NXT “very soon.”
  • This fell through due to issues from the past. (0/1)

February 21, 2023

  • Trish Stratus was backstage at Raw last night in Ottawa, according to Fightful Select. Stratus was apparently supposed to be Becky Lynch’s second for the segment with Damage CTRL, but left before it was filmed. Asked what happened, sources told the site it was a “creative change”.
  • This seemed like it was slow to get going.
  • WRKD Wrestling tweeted that “Trish is still on the way” and said she’ll be “working a storyline she’s wanted to for quite some time.”
  • She came back for a long feud with Becky Lynch. (1/1)
  • After Ariel Helwani’s appearance on last Friday’s SmackDown, there was a Twitter exchange between Tony Khan & Helwani that everyone agrees had its roots in Helwani’s criticism of Khan after their October 2022 interview. Fightful said the tweets were a topic of conversation backstage at WWE before Elimination Chamber.
  • That was a bit of a feud.
  • Helwani joked on his The MMA Hour show Monday that he “popped the boys in the back” with his tweet toward Khan, and that when he saw Michael Cole before Saturday’s PLE Cole told him, “Just wait until you hear how I introduce you.”
  • It seems like both companies take their chances for some shots at the other.
  • Discussing the situation on Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer said that “the stuff” his WWE sources have been saying about Tony Khan for the last three years is “so bad”. In particular, Meltzer thinks Helwani calling Khan “the snowman” made him “the star of stars to them [WWE].”
  • I mean this could very well be true. There are probably folks who talk some trash regarding Tony or AEW in general. I’m also not sure who is going to the media and saying these things though? Maybe folks who have friends in AEW?
  • The MMA reporter defended his spots on WWE’s shows in his hometown of Montreal by saying he doesn’t cover wrestling as a journalist, and just appeared last weekend to have fun doing something that brings him joy. Helwani also hinted that he “could tell you a lot of other stuff about that interview [with Tony Khan] that we didn’t show, about how weird and bizarre that whole thing was — but I’m not gonna do that.”
  • That’s a tough line to draw. “In this field I’m a journalist but in this somewhat similar field, I’m not.” I understand to some degree. WWE is scripted and UFC isn’t. But it’s still a tough line to walk.

February 22, 2023

  • claims Batista will headline this year’s WWE Hall of Fame class.
  • Not yet. (0/1)
  • On Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer said WWE is indeed going ahead with Bray Wyatt vs. Bobby Lashley and Brock Lesnar vs. Omos at WrestleMania 39.
  • Brock vs. Omos happened. While it looks like Bray/Lashley was going to happen, it was never announce before health issues. We can assume it likely would have gone that way, but we just don’t know. (1/1)
  • He also said plans still call for Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler to win the women’s tag team titles at WrestleMania, so we’ll have to see what that means for Damage CTRL.
  • That did not happen. It was a mixed tag and apparently Ronda was rather hurt so barely worked the match. Eventually they did win them, but soon broke up to feud at SummerSlam. I wonder if they would have pulled the trigger earlier if Ronda were healthy and then the break up wouldn’t have seemed so rushed. (0/1)
  • According to PW Insider, in recent weeks WWE employees have felt like they are once again “walking on eggshells” since Vince McMahon’s return and the pending sale of the company. Morale isn’t as bad as it once was, but it’s apparently gotten worse in recent weeks.
  • Six months later and the rumors remain exactly the same.
  • Fightful Select says Andrade isn’t expected back in AEW until the spring.
  • Andrade actually turned in June for Collision, but technically it was before the first day of Summer so... (1/1)

February 23, 2023

  • Though he specified that he couldn’t confirm it “at all”, Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp tweeted that a WWE talent told him they thought Vince McMahon was back working in WWE creative. He later updated that after speaking with “sources in WWE that would be in a position to know” who told him the talent’s “fears are unfounded.”
  • So dueling rumors. Eventually, he was back, though. (1/2)
  • Wade Keller of PWTorch also tweeted: “I was told flat out today that Vince McMahon is not back involved in WWE Creative.”
  • I think we don’t know what the extent his involvement was, if any, at this specific time.
  • Sapp also tweeted that there was “a lot of truth” in MJF’s promo on Dynamite last night, specifically that “he and his fiancee did have a split.”
  • Folks use that in promos quite often.
  • Still not much in the way of details, but while Fightful Select was following up on what happened with Trish Stratus’ planned appearance on Monday’s Raw, sources said that a program involving Stratus, Becky Lynch and “possibly other high level stars” was in the works as of last week.
  • That’s the program she had. (1/1)
  • There’s speculation elsewhere that Stratus will turn heel and eventually team with Bayley against Becky Lynch & Lita. In this scenario, Trish was pulled from this week’s episode because WWE didn’t think she’d be booed in Ottawa.
  • While a heel turn happened, Lita was out of the picture afterwards and Bayley never teamed with Trish. (0/1)
  • Based on advertisements for July’s Money in the Bank PLE in London, it doesn’t look like Roman Reigns will be working the show.
  • The was the “Bloodline Civil War,” so he did work the show. (0/1)
  • Spectrum Cable has “AEW Forbidden Door” on their PPV schedule for June 24, 2023.
  • Spectrum gets it wrong. It was the following day. (0/1)

February 24, 2023

  • Wrestling Observer Radio’s Dave Meltzer says WWE was “very concerned about Sami [Zayn] chants” during Cody Rhodes’ appearance on Raw this week, which is why Paul Heyman interrupted Cody so quickly. WWE is worried that Sami chants can hurt Cody’s momentum heading into WrestleMania 39, so they designed the segment so the audience wouldn’t have much time to get those chants going.
  • The worries were overall unfounded. Cody remained very popular with the crowd during his build to WrestleMania. Even if WWE wasn’t worried, there were certainly fans who thought that crowds were going to reject Cody for Sami. But given Sami still had a very good story and Cody was super popular, that was never an issue.
  • According to Wrestlenomics’ Brandon Thurston, WWE’s Backlash event will take place on May 6, while the King & Queen of the Ring event will take place on Saturday, May 27. These are both Premium Live Events taking place on Saturdays. It’s worth noting that AEW’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view is scheduled for May 28, so WWE and AEW will both be running major events that weekend.
  • Those dates for the WWE shows are correct (though King & Queen of the Ring was renamed Clash of Champions). (2/2)
  • WWE’s next Saudi Arabia show is scheduled for the month of May, but it is unknown which of the aforementioned events will take place there.
  • That was Clash of Champions. (1/1)
  • The events page of WWE’s web site has quietly added Ronda Rousey to the lineup for next week’s (Feb. 27) episode of Raw in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which suggests she will make an appearance on the show.
  • She did not make an appearance on the show. (0/1)
  • WRKD Wrestling claims that “the idea of Shawn Michaels forcing Grayson Waller to face off against a debuting Dragon Lee” has been discussed for NXT.
  • Waller was part of a multi-man with Dragon Lee, but that wasn’t part of this story. HBK’s proxy was Johnny Gargano. (0/1)
  • Per Meltzer, the AEW: All Access reality show is the replacement for Rhodes to the Top.
  • Sounds like a reality TV show is part of AEW’s deal with Warner.
  • Wrestling Observer Live’s Bryan Alvarez was given the impression that AEW: All Access will be “a really intriguing show” with “a lot of good stuff” and “a lot of interesting things” that fans have previously heard about.
  • That’s all very vague (and subjective). But they did touch upon things like the Thunder Rosa issues. Not the CM Punk drama though.

February 25, 2023

  • Regarding WWE’s current direction of Brock Lesnar vs. Omos at WrestleMania 39, this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter notes that plans for Brock “changed in the last week or two.” However, the original plan was not a match against GUNTHER.
  • The original plan really felt like they’d run Lashley vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania. The Omos feud just felt very Vince.
  • WRKD Wrestling claims Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. The Usos is “currently slated to main event the first night of WrestleMania.”
  • That they did, though apparently it was debated up until pretty late against Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair. I think the tag match had more of an emotional punch, but both matches were fantastic. (1/1)
  • Kenny Omega’s AEW contract was set to expire by Feb. 1, 2023, but The Observer claims that AEW did in fact add injury time to extend the length of his deal. Dave Meltzer doesn’t know how much time was added, but the maximum possible amount is nine months, which would keep him locked down until November.
  • He ended up re-signing a month back, though it’s possible he had more time on his contract when he did. Given the Elite made the decision as a group, it’s also possible the other guys had their contracts coming up first and that’s why they all did it then.
  • Meltzer writes that Mercedes Moné’s IWGP women’s championship win was planned from the moment she signed with NJPW, because the title becomes more important when she’s the one holding it.
  • Tough to argue with that.
  • According to PW Insider, WWE’s King & Queen of the Ring event in May will take place in Saudi Arabia.
  • That’s the case, but again, with a name change. (1/1)
  • Per WON, Saudi Arabia “absolutely has interest” in buying WWE, and Vince McMahon’s asking price of nine billion dollars makes them a leading contender. That’s because unlike all the media companies involved in the bidding, Saudi doesn’t care about making a profit on the deal. Their motivation is to use the WWE brand as part of their ongoing campaign to “normalize the world views of their country” and take attention away from all of their human rights violations.
  • Thankfully, they did not end up being the buyers. That would have been a tough pill to swallow.
  • AEW has filed for a trademark on the phrase “AEW Collision.”
  • That’s their Saturday night show. It’s an alright night for fighting.

This week: 11/20 - 55%

Overall: 4,705/8,231 - 57.2%

Have a great week, everyone!

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