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Rumor Roundup special edition: Sasha Banks & Naomi’s Raw walkout

Naomi’s Instagram

There’s been a metric s*** ton of chatter on the interwebs about WWE Women’s Tag Team champions Sasha Banks & Naomi walking out of Raw last night (May 16), and the company’s response to it. From Twitter threads by someone-Naomi-follows to paywalled scoopz, in print, on podcasts, and even the New York Post — it’s a lot to sift through.

Reports from the more reliable sources like Fightful Select, PWInsider & Wrestling Observer agree on the main details, giving us the following picture:

  • Naomi was set to win the planned Six-Pack Challenge to determine Bianca Belair’s challenger at next month’s Hell in a Cell show. There are differing reports on whether she was set to pin Sasha to finish that match; Fightful says she would have beaten Nikki A.S.H.
  • Some reports also suggest Banks would have been set-up as SmackDown Women’s champion Ronda Rousey’s Hell in a Cell challenger, and that both of the Tag champs would put over the singles titleholders at the PPV.
  • Banks & Naomi objected to some or all elements of that plan, wanting instead to set-up an angle where they would face Nikki A.S.H. & Doudrop for the Tag belts at Hell in a Cell.
  • They’re believed to have raised those issues in a meeting with Vince McMahon, and at one point during the day yesterday the plan may have been to start that program by having Nikki & Doudrop attack Sasha & Naomi after they had a short tag match.
  • Sometime before Raw, a producer (Insider says it was Molly Holly) informed Sasha & Naomi they were going with the original Six-Pack Challenge plan. The champs then went to John Laurinaitis, told him they were leaving, and left their titles.
  • The pair’s frustration apparently isn’t new. Insider’s sources say Sasha & Naomi feel they made the most of being put in a team together for WrestleMania and aren’t happy their reward for doing so is to have “to wrestle each other and go off to put over other talents,” leaving them in the same situation they were in before being teamed up. Fightful says their concerns were “about the direction of their tag team and the division as a whole.”
  • It seems to have become a standoff between the talents and McMahon. What’s not clear is whether Vince indicated he’d change last night’s plans in his meeting with them, or reneged on promises made over the past several weeks or months.
  • Corey Graves comments about the walkout being “unprofessional” were fed to him by Vince, who was in Gorilla last night.
  • Regarding WWE’s statement that Banks & Naomi said they weren’t comfortable wrestling two of their opponents in the Six-Pack Challenge, Fightful indicates that’s WWE’s spin on their wanting to work a program with Nikki & Doudrop rather than be part of the planned match with Asuka & Becky Lynch.
  • WWE’s statement was sent to the roster via the internal talent relations app. People Fightful spoke to said they haven’t heard Sasha or Naomi talk about anyone being unsafe.
  • Insider speculates the portion of WWE’s statement apologizing for changing the main event was suggested by legal as possible grounds for saying Banks & Naomi breached their contracts.

Like I said, it’s a lot. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. This will be a story that has legs, and touches on a lot of ongoing discussions about WWE creative, wrestlers as independent contractors, gender, race, and more.

Buckle up.

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