Several of the infamous "catering crew" that Paul Heyman went out of his way to draft last year ended up on Smackdown, but don't count on them getting a lot of creative influence from Heyman this go around. We we inquired, we were told it's just not Heyman's job description any more to help with creative outside of Roman Reigns storylines. Those that we've spoken to on the roster say he's willing to help when asked for input by wrestlers, but isn't necessarily something he is asked to do by WWE.
Ben Carter NXT UK
Ben Carter has made quite the impression of late. He had a breakout performance against Lee Johnson on Dark, and then appeared on Late Night Dynamite against Scorprio Sky. Before those matches, however, he filmed a match with IMPACT Wrestling that ran this week. He's had looks and interest from both companies, but Fightful has learned that NXT UK has made a major play to land Ben Carter in recent weeks. Carter was very open with Fightful that his residential status affected him in ROH, and kept him from getting paid. The NXT UK deal would circumvent that and keep him closer to home. The last we'd heard from the WWE side of things was that a deal had not been reached as of yet.
Creative Situations Within NXT
There have at least been pitches about possible stories in case of worst case scenario situations for Balor, but we've heard nothing about him being stripped of the NXT Title at this point. Based on what we've heard, NXT would like to avoid doing that, especially so shortly after Karrion Kross was forced to vacate the NXT Title. This was clarified on this week's episode of NXT, but there have been ideas tossed around about what to do.
NXT Segments Highly Praised Backstage
Despite the frustrations last week at the NXT show, There were some things very positively received backstage, namely the Johnny Gargano, Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell segments. At least one person said they felt they made Indi Hartwell without even having her on screen, but it also highlighted some issues with the roster being told they "needed time" to build people on TV. The segments were universally praised from those we spoke to in NXT.
Several WWE talent spoke with Fightful and let us know that they were informed about where they would be in the WWE draft pool by the Fox Sports report that went up on Thursday afternoon. At least one was said to have expressed displeasure about this. WWE issued a virtually identical press release shortly thereafter. There were several that actually found out they wouldn't be included in the draft pools via the WWE statement as well.
Several sources have told us that Ring of Honor is planning a bit of a program revamp, at least according to those within the company and what they tell Fightful. We've learned that ROH officials have told incoming superstars that they're hoping to rejuvenate the brand as a whole from top to bottom. This includes the women's division, which Jonathan Gresham took over at the beginning of the year. We've heard that plans were in motion for that to occur ahead of the pandemic, but it looks like it will be closer to the end of the year now. Delirious has been reaching out to wrestlers and speaking with them directly about possibly working with Ring of Honor. We have no update on Marty Scurll's status with Ring of Honor as of now.
ROH has taken heavy feedback from wrestlers over the past year to implement changes to presentation and production, with many of those recommendations being implemented on TV in the Pure Tournament.
RVD and Katie Forbes
Fightful reached out to several within IMPACT Wrestling to ask about the departure of Katie Forbes and Rob Van Dam. We were told that the relationship between IMPACT and RVD lasted much longer than originally anticipated, and Forbes was inevitably signed as a favor to him. There's no heat between RVD, Forbes and IMPACT and the split seemed to be an amicable one with the possibility of a return or working together in the future still on the table.
Big Swole Enhancement
I've had the Big Swole Enhancement Story episode in the can for quite a while, and now seemed a good time to release it. She said that when she did her Raw appearance against Nia Jax years ago, a friend called her to ask if she could make the show. She was one of two female extras around, and figured she'd get picked to face Nia because she was smaller. Swole noted that Nia was easy to deal with, and was surprised she was able to get as much offense in as she did. The slap was unplanned and garnered a legit reaction from her, and said she was going to give Nia Jax a receipt for it, whether she liked it or not. Nia responded well to it.
The finish was something Nia had been working on, but it wasn't the way that the two had actually planned it, but it ended up working out. Road Dogg, Randy Orton, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H all gave her positive feedback, specifically about her selling.
Tino Sabbatelli was back at the WWE Performance Center this past week after being released in April as a part of the WWE cutbacks. Fightful was informed last week that Sabbattelli was listed internally as being scheduled to be at the venue, but that the sheet often has errors. However, Sabbatelli did end up showing up there.
Fightful has heard that Sabbatelli was the name getting the blame for leaking AEW information months back, which Chris Jericho called out as an "NXT reject." We don't know if Sabbatelli was actually leaking information from AEW, just that he's the person often referenced by those in AEW.
I spoke to Sami Callihan, who has worked hard the last two months to get back in shape. He's dropped approximately 25 pounds ahead of Bound For Glory, which he isn't booked to wrestle on. However, he did indicate to us that he's planned for TalkNShopAMania 2, which is filmed and airs next month.
He's happy to be portraying the hacker character again, but wants it rooted in reality and is making sure that it isn't hokey or corny so it can work out for the best. He admitted there was a little uncertainty when he left WWE, but that he didn't take the non-compete clause because he wanted to create an immediate buzz. Most of the people that just came to IMPACT from WWE were already his friends and he'd spoken with many of them about the transition. The creative liberation that he's experienced has been very important to him. It's something that he's seen surprise some of the recent WWE releases that have popped up in IMPACT Wrestling.