So, on the May 27 Raw from Kansas City, Sami Zayn, a wrestler who plays a character WWE describes as “the critic of the critics”, mocked fans who’d been chanting “AEW” on and off all night by pointing out that during a Q & A where they could ask him anything, they didn’t ask him about Tony Khan’s new company.
Here it is again, in case you missed it...
As soon as Raw went off the air, a debate about whether Sami’s mention of the promotion which has been making a variety of indirect aggressive gestures toward WWE since their debut pay-per-view (PPV) last Saturday was an ad lib or part of the script has erupted.
On the side of it being scripted, we have Wrestling Observer Radio’s Dave Meltzer. While Meltzer’s source indicate the AEW reference was in the script, but they weren’t a fan of it (“so f***ing stupid” was the quote they gave him). Dave also points out that if Sami went rogue, he’d be subject to fines and suspensions, since WWE takes adhering to the script very seriously.
On the side of it being improvised by Zayn, we have Observer Radio’s Bryan Alvarez and PWInsider’s Mike Johnson. Johnson claims multiple sources told him the “AEW line was not something that was in the script for Raw and was likely something Zayn, who pitches his own verbiage, improvised.” He hasn’t heard how the higher-ups reacted to it yet, but hints he expects they won’t be pleased with “All Elite Wrestling getting a plug on WWE’s flagship program.”
Alvarez only claimed to have heard that Sami went off script from one person, but says that person would have been in the same pre-show script meeting as Meltzer’s source. The Observer pair then discussed the possibility WWE is attempting to work everyone regarding who came up with/approved the All Elite mention, which led to talk of who knew what, when on Brock Lesnar’s Money in the Bank win and how mistrust helped kill WCW.
One of the things which added fuel to this fire is that WWE edited the AEW reference out of the YouTube version of the “The Electric Chair” segment...
However, it’s still in the 90 minute edit of Raw which is available via Hulu. And it wasn’t dumped during the delay available to WWE and USA on Monday night, either. If Vince McMahon and his team were upset about Zayn talking about the new kid on the block, you’d expect their scrubbing of it would be more thorough than just not putting it in the YouTube version.
Or, only pulling it from the YouTube version is what they’d do if they wanted to work everyone into thinking it was unscripted when it was scripted and... my head hurts. Maybe this is what Dave’s source meant by “so f***ing stupid”?
Personally, I’m Team Meltz on this one. If the top people at WWE didn’t want Sami saying AEW to happen on Raw, it wouldn’t have happened on Raw (or at least, no one outside the Spirit Center would have heard it).
But let us know what you think. And probably get ready for more stuff like this now that another company has WWE’s attention like All Elite does.
UPDATE: Pro Wrestling Sheet’s Ryan Satin has joined the “it was scripted” side.