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Rumor Look Back: Jan. 30 - Feb. 5, 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 30, 2023

  • The current plan is still for Cody Rhodes to challenge Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal championship in the main event of WrestleMania, per the Observer. There has been no change based on what has happened with Sami Zayn, at least as of yet.
  • That’s the case. There’s rumor that may be the main event of next year’s show too. (I wouldn’t be upset about it.) (1/1)
  • PW Insider notes that Pat McAfee’s return was kept so close to the vest that no one in WWE even knew it was happening, including Michael Cole and Corey Graves, who had prepared to call the entire show with just the two of them. It’s unclear as of now, however, if McAfee is back on the desk on SmackDown on a regular basis again or if this was just for this show.
  • It’s wild that they’d work the announcers, but at the same time, entirely believable. It was not a return for McAfee, but just for that show.
  • According to Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio, the reason Rey Mysterio didn’t work the Royal Rumble like he was supposed to is because he was injured on SmackDown during his match with Karrion Kross.
  • Unfortunately, Mysterio has had his share of injuries during his very long career, including very recently in the finals of the US title contender tournament.
  • He also said he thought they were going to do some teases for a Dominik vs. Rey match at WrestleMania in the Rumble match.
  • They got to that match eventually.
  • Kurt Angle said on his podcast that Hulk Hogan recently underwent another back surgery and he now can’t feel his legs, so he has to use a cane to walk around.
  • Hogan’s people eventually disputed this (and we’ve seen him without a cane). (0/1)
  • Vince McMahon has been working more normal hours at the office lately, says Wrestling Observer Radio. He used to stay all night but it’s not like that anymore, and he’s mostly working on the sale.
  • He’s currently out on health leave after spinal surgery.
  • MLW sent a cease and desist letter to WWE after they reached out to some of their talent about appearing on Raw XXX (believed to Jacob Fatu and Lance Anoa’i), says the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
  • There’s some issues, including legal, between these two companies.

January 31, 2023

  • WWE is sticking with plans to run Sami Zayn vs. Roman Reigns as the main event of Elimination Chamber, according to Wrestling Observer. Dave Meltzer reports that’s been the plan since October or November.
  • That was the match. The crowd was hot. (1/1)
  • Meltzer also notes that Brock Lesnar isn’t scheduled to work the U.S. title Chamber match “at this point”, but he is supposed to be on the show.
  • He quickly blew off his feud with Lashley on that show so he could work a weird program with Omos. (2/2)
  • Regarding that Chamber match, Meltzer writes: “We were told that while the Chamber match for the U.S. title isn’t as strong as it being for a WrestleMania title shot or the WWE title, the feeling is that Reigns vs. Zayn is so hot it doesn’t matter what is on the rest of the show.”
  • I think that’s a fair assessment. I think they rushed to that Zayn/Reigns title match, likely due to the fact they extended how long Sami would be in the Bloodline, and it could have benefitted with some time to breathe. But it was still a great atmosphere.
  • Sources told PW Insider “WWE is extremely happy with the performance of the Royal Rumble event over the weekend.”
  • It was a good show.
  • WrestleVotes claims to have heard praise for both Rumble matches, with specific mentions of Gunther’s performance and the midair collision spot Ricochet & Logan Paul pulled off. The Bloodline angle was placed last because everyone expected it to steal the show, as it did.
  • That midair collision was the start of the SummerSlam program between Paul and Ricochet.
  • Roxanne Perez’s time in the women’s Rumble match was kept short because WWE didn’t want to risk her getting hurt ahead of her title defense at Vengeance Day this weekend, per Wrestling Observer Live’s Bryan Alvarez.
  • That makes sense. But at the same time, they’d want their NXT champion to get a bit of shine.
  • Kevin Nash said he was invited to Raw XXX by Bruce Prichard, but declined as he wasn’t interested in doing what he thinks they would have asked him to do, and because he didn’t want to have people he barely knows offering him condolences on the death of his son.
  • I can understand not wanting to deal with a large group of people after losing a loved one like he did.

February 1, 2023

  • On Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer said Stone Cold Steve Austin won’t be wrestling at WrestleMania 39, having turned down the matches they offered him. He could still appear on the show.
  • He didn’t wrestle. He didn’t appear on the show at all. (1/2)
  • Speaking of Austin, Wrestlenomics’ Brandon Thurston says he’ll be the star of a new A&E series that will start in April.
  • That must be the Austin travel show. (1/1)
  • Brock Lesnar vs. GUNTHER is not currently planned for WrestleMania, says the Observer, but they did the tease at Royal Rumble for a reason and it could happen down the line.
  • It did not happen at WrestleMania. Brock faced Omos at Mania while Gunther faced Drew McIntyre & Sheamus, defending his Intercontinental title. (1/1)
  • PW Insider noted Nia Jax’s Royal Rumble appearance was a one-off and there is no new deal with WWE in place as of this time.
  • Accurate. (1/1)
  • Per Fightful Select, “there’s major interest from a number of companies” for Kota Ibushi’s services now that he’s a free agent.
  • He worked Blood & Guts, but I don’t know if he’s actually signed with them.
  • Booker T claimed on his podcast that he learned of his Royal Rumble booking during the Kickoff show.
  • That’s why wrestlers always travel with their gear.

February 2, 2023

  • Not everyone was prepared for Brock Lesnar’s “freak out” after his Royal Rumble elimination, per Fightful Select. Some in the ring didn’t know Lesnar would be throwing things at them, but “it’s Brock, so expect anything and everything.”
  • Being prepared for everything in regards to Lesnar seems wise.
  • There is some heat on Lesnar for throwing referee Eddie Orengo over the barricade, which was also unplanned. Orengo was supposed to lift Cody Rhodes’ arm after he won the Rumble, but that had to be changed after he was taken to the back to sell Brock’s attack (Orengo may also have suffered a legit foot injury).
  • I don’t know if anything came of this, but that’s got to be frustrating. Orengo was supposed to work a big match and present the winner but didn’t get to.
  • One Fightful source said that while some people backstage were upset, “heat is a relative term for Brock Lesnar. He’s not going to get in trouble.”
  • I guess we wouldn’t know if there was any fine or anything, but I believe he can get away with things many would not.
  • Variety reports that John Cena arrived in Australia this week to start filming for his next movie (Peter Farrelly’s Ricky Stanicky, also starring Zac “Kevin Von Erich” Efron). That means that if Cena is working WrestleMania 39, he probably won’t be around for much of the build to it.
  • He was there for one show prior to the match. (1/1)
  • Tony Khan told Busted Open that AEW would “certainly have to consider” signing Kota Ibushi if they got a chance.
  • Again, right now, B&G seems like a one and done.
  • After Kurt Angle’s comments about his health made the rounds, a representative for Hulk Hogan told Entertainment Tonight that “Everything is OK with [Hogan].” They also said that he doesn’t need a cane to walk.
  • He’s at least avoided a cane when in public.
  • The fourth season of Dark Side of the Ring has been filming, according to PW Insider. The site’s confirmed episodes on Abdullah the Butcher, Mike Awesome, and Bam Bam Bigelow.
  • Folks like this show, but I’ve never really watched.
  • Aliyah tweeted that she’s been cleared to return since Oct. 27, which probably means creative has nothing for the SmackDown talent.
  • She had a little run there but been MIA for awhile.

February 3, 2023

  • Wrestling Observer Radio’s Dave Meltzer was told that Triple H doesn’t see Sami Zayn as a WrestleMania main eventer or face of WWE.
  • Dave has doubled down on this. I don’t know how much I believe it. I believe they don’t see him as a consistent main event guy like Roman. But he’s booked like a vital member of the roster. He was in the main event of WrestleMania Night One this year. And I wouldn’t put it past them having Sami challenge for the World title on Raw. And maybe winning it.
  • Meltzer adds that even though Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is not competing at WrestleMania 39 this year, he left the door open for a match next year at WrestleMania 40.
  • We’ll see.
  • WrestleVotes heard there are plans to book a three way match for the Intercontinental championship at WrestleMania 39 between Sheamus, GUNTHER, and Drew McIntyre. Multiple people in WWE creative want the match to be “towards the top” of the card.
  • That was the match. I don’t know if it was a “towards the top of the card” match, but it was the match. (1/1)
  • According to Fightful Select, Vince McMahon was not at Royal Rumble 2023 and had no creative input on the show. One talent told the site that Vince’s absence helped make it one of the easiest Rumbles to deal with in years, partially due to fewer last minute changes.
  • It sounds like, prior to the surgery at least, he’d still rewrite things remotely but the process was still smoother with him outside the building.
  • Bloomberg heard from “a person familiar with management’s thinking” that AEW is considering the idea of starting a streaming service through its current broadcast partner, Warner Bros. Discovery.
  • Nothing on that front. (0/1)
  • Per Tokyo Sports, Keiji Muto said he suffered hamstring tears in both of his legs during his match at The Great Muta Final Bye-Bye.
  • Ouch.

February 4, 2023

  • As of three months ago, WWE’s plan was to have Roman Reigns defeat Sami Zayn in Montreal at Elimination Chamber. That comes from Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer, who says Sami Zayn’s unexpected rise in popularity has caused some people inside WWE to think those plans should be changed. Triple H is not one of those people, however.
  • I would have loved to see Sami defeat Roman. But at the same time, I really enjoyed what they did as well. And if Sami were to defeat Roman, that match should have been more than a few weeks after the turn. And it should have been at WrestleMania.
  • According to CNBC, Vince McMahon’s “potential future involvement” with WWE is a “sticking point” with multiple buyers in early negotiations for a sale of the company.
  • We don’t know if it was part of negotiations, but that’s how it ended up.
  • Daily Mail’s Alex McCarthy writes that Piper Niven got approval to drop the “Doudrop” name in December. WWE decided that Royal Rumble was the best time for her to officially re-debut with the name change.
  • They haven’t been using her much. Which is a bit of a waste because she’s talented.
  • The Observer notes that Keith Lee’s absence from AEW television is strictly about selling the kayfabe injuries he sustained on the Dec. 21 episode of Dynamite when Mogul Affiliates attacked him with a cinder block. Lee is fine and should be back on TV soon.
  • One day, they’ll have that Lee/Swerve match.
  • Ivy Nile was a late cut from the women’s Royal Rumble match, according to Meltzer.
  • She was rumored to be part of it so that makes sense it’d be a late change.
  • ROH talent have been told that Ring of Honor will begin taping their weekly show during the final weekend of February, according to Fightful Select. The tapings will take place in Orlando, Florida, and will likely kick off the build for Supercard of Honor.
  • That timing is accurate. (1/1)
  • Per Tokyo Sports, Rizin promoter Nobuyuki Sakakibara is trying to book Kota Ibushi vs. Manny Pacquiao, now that Ibushi is a free agent.
  • I don’t believe that is happening.

This week: 11/14 - 79%

January 2023: 52/86 - 60%

Overall: 4,673/8,183 - 57.1%

Have a great week, everyone!

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