Fightful.com spent the duration of Tuesday afternoon reaching out to wrestlers within WWE, and others that have worked with Reigns throughout this career. The attitude backstage was said to have been incredibly somber, although Roman himself was optimistic, joking and laughing with some longtime friends and co-workers after initially getting greetings after his promo.
One WWE wrestler said that Reigns' top spot on the card extended far beyond his in-ring and on-screen portrayal. He was and is considered a locker room leader, often eliminating problem causers and resolving issues that went on that looked like they could disturb morale. He also on numerous occasions reached out to younger talent and gave them advice on conduct in the locker room and backstage.
Another talent on the Smackdown roster said that many still didn't know backstage what Reigns' announcement would be until he said it on the air. There was a rush of talent to the Gorilla position once the situation became clear. The mood didn't really recover after the opening segment, despite the aforementioned talent saying Raw hit a "home run" after.
Former Fightful Podcast personality, and longtime WWE wrestler Shane Helms told us that he had no knowledge of Reigns' diagnosis -- current or former. Helms famously teamed with Roman Reigns' brother Rosey for well over two years between 2003 and 2005, and wasn't aware that Reigns had battled leukemia.
Vince McMahon was not at WWE Raw this week, and the show was run by Triple H. There was a report that Vince McMahon "isn't going to all of the television tapings anymore," but that's been the case for quite some time now and isn't really anything new. Despite that Vince hasn't been at tapings and wasn't there Monday, ultimately he still has final say on all decisions, although Triple H's influence is increasing more, as one would guess.
Jericho & JR Promotion
Rumors emerged last week that Chris Jericho and Jim Ross were starting their own wrestling promotion over the course of the next year, and that Bullet Club Elite members The Young Bucks, Cody Rhodes, Adam "Hangman" Page and Marty Scurll would be involved in the company. It was also reported that talks with AXS TV -- who broadcast New Japan Pro Wrestling and Women of Wrestling -- were advanced.
Pretty quickly, an AXS TV rep confirmed to Fightful.com that the component of the report that mentioned them was untrue. AXS has traditionally been very transparent when dealing with wrestling media. Jericho joked about the initial report on social media, and Fightful spoke with one person close to the rumors who didn't outright deny the news, but strongly indicated that it wasn't true and that the Bullet Club members mentioned wouldn't need to work with Jericho or Jim Ross to launch a promotion off the heels of the successful All In show.
Austin Aries - IMPACT
I followed up a few days after Impact's tapings concluded about the Austin Aries situation. My source in the company simply said "someone's getting worked, and I'm not sure who it is. It could be Austin, Impact, the entire creative team or the wrestlers, but someone is walking away from this situation unhappy."
In following up with Jazz last week, I asked her why she was brought in to WWE's version of ECW and abruptly dropped. According to Jazz, she was getting over too much as a babyface for WWE's liking. She had been doing run-ins and attacking Kelly Kelly, but getting a babyface reaction, and WWE hadn't expected that.
Jazz said that she had to significantly tone her style down when moving from ECW over to WWE, and that she had to do it "so other women wouldn't bitch." To say that she was excited to work a more physical style in her later years would be a major understatement.
Many of you may remember UFC fighter Arjan Bhullar. He was supposed to be accompanied to the ring for one of his first UFC fights by Jinder Mahal, before a hurricane near Mahal's home forced him away from the event. When we spoke to Bhullar recently, he said he doesn't keep in touch with Mahal that much, but was hoping to get in touch with Bobby Lashley soon.
“For sure, I mean we text periodically," he said. "I haven’t chatted with him in a little bit, he’s doing his thing in the pro wrestling arena. Actually Bobby Lashley is coming to town on the weekend, I’m trying to hook up with him…we’ll see if that happens. Jinder's always doing well and he knows that I have love for him, its mutual and its all good."
WWE Saudi Arabia
I'd noted recently that several wrestlers I'd talked to were way more uncomfortable going to Saudi Arabia for WWE Crown Jewel than they were for the Greatest Royal Rumble. It's worth mentioning that none of the people I spoke to were scheduled to make the trip over. WWE took something like 80 performers to Saudi Arabia in April for the Greatest Royal Rumble, and of the half dozen we spoke to, they all said they got nice pay for the show, but beyond their moral issues, the place was difficult to navigate. This go around, WWE is only scheduled to send roughly 20 performers to the show, and none of the wrestlers who aren't scheduled to go seem to know if there will be a company-wide bonus or increase due to the huge amount of money WWE is set to receive.
I spoke to a wrestler in WWE who had worked with Brock Lesnar about a couple of talking points a friend had brought up to me recently. The points were both confirmed, with the first being that Lesnar is a surprisingly light worker. I was told that was true, but so is the popular opinion that Lesnar is lazy in the ring and often unwilling to be creative, try new things or go above and beyond.
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