Fightful obtained an email from Vince McMahon to talent that read as follows:
"Just a friendly reminder that this Friday, October 2 is the deadline for severing any unauthorized business relationships with 3rd parties. As was mentioned in my September 3 message, continued violations beyond this deadline will result in fines and may result in suspension or termination. If you need further details, please contact our EVP of Operations, Brad Blum. Thank you. Vince."
This week, a message came through to many Performance Center trainees from higher ups, asking them to shut down or make their Cameo pages unbookable. It was mentioned in that message that details would be coming soon about a WWE/Cameo partnership that would reopen them. It didn't take long.
Another message came in to talent that inquired, letting them know that WWE has finalized an agreement to keep wrestlers on Cameo and instructed the performers how to "opt in," noting that the payments will now be required to go through WWE.
Main Roster Reactions WWE/Twitch/Cameo
There are responses and reactions all over the map for WWE's third party policies.
One prominent WWE Superstar on the main roster told us they weren't too concerned about the policies as WWE takes care of them financially and their schedule hadn't really allowed for Cameo to begin with. However, the wrestler did understand the concern others felt.
Numerous WWE wrestlers said that with the new changes, they likely won't see any additional money. Many other basic payoffs for shows have been cannibalized by the fact that so many wrestlers have higher downside guarantees than in previous years.
Another top name said that while they don't stream, they want to be involved with other projects that friends or family want to promote, and they aren't sure how the new rules will affect them. The top star said that there is a lot of frustration from those they work with because the services were not outlined in their contracts.
All across the roster, varying bits of information are being sent to talent at different times, which is much different than in the past when they'd get the news universally on the internal talent relations app.
Almost all talent that we spoke to said they wouldn't bother signing a new deal or "opting in" if that was presented to them. Nobody that we spoke to on the main roster thought that anyone would end up getting fired as a result, and nobody we've spoken to yet has been "forced" to sign a new contract.
Ben Carter Interest
Fightful has learned that Ben Carter has drawn the interest of multiple companies, not just All Elite Wrestling. We've been told that there was also at least contact with NXT, but weren't told how serious those discussions were or how far the conversations got. We've also heard that other companies have expressed interest in the prospect.
Fightful has an interview set with Carter.
We've not yet heard why Harold Meij resigned from New Japan Pro Wrestling, but we have heard from several wrestlers about how they feel about it. One longtime New Japan Pro Wrestling star told us that they never quite fully bought in to the Harold Meij plan, and they were hopeful that he would be more proactive with relationships. Another said that they would have needed more time to see his vision fully executed because of the pandemic, but that they hadn't quite seen it unfold even in the months that preceded it after about two years in control.
There could be more NXT content on the way soon. Fightful has learned that a once-pitched NXT product was at least in the planning stages in September, before the most recent outbreak.
Once pitched as "NXT Underground" well before "Raw Underground" happened, but it wasn't to be anything like the Raw Underground we see today, outside of having peers watch the show. The idea was floated around last year, but not everyone was on board with the idea, which was tabled. There was a pilot for the event shot at the WWE Performance Center in Summer 2019, which would have been the setting of the event. We're told it has long been a Ryan Katz project.
The latest we've heard is that some unused NXT talent and new EVOLVE signings were tentatively planned for the show. Again, we are unsure of how the recent COVID outbreak have affected this.
Backstage Reactions To Talent Traveling
Following Gary Cassidy's report that WWE talent were instructed to prepare to travel, Fightful reached out to numerous wrestlers in the company. Unanimously, the reception was that of groans and frustration, with many thinking that the decision to do this after the company knew of another outbreak was a poor one. One top wrestler said that they've not seen much from WWE to instill confidence that it would get any better on the road. Every talent we've spoke to misses live audiences, but have also expressed concerns to us about the realities of traveling.
Louis Dangoor of WrestleTalk recently ran a report noting that WWE morale seemed to be up on the Smackdown side after the return of Roman Reigns. We've actually heard much of the same for WWE Raw since the move to the Amway Center. One WWE wrestler we spoke to said that the Performance Center was getting very "cramped and lived in" in pretty quick fashion considering WWE was running multiple shows out of the same building for five months.
Another wrestler joked to us that there were more places to hide from everyone else at Amway.
Amber Nova told Fightful that she's been doing catch wrestling training with Low Ki, among others, and hoping for an opportunity for a WWE tryout. She's been in contact with WWE, but understands that the pandemic isn't the ideal situation for hiring. Nova has done a ton of extra work in the past, but said that she's aiming for a contract, or at the very least a tryout opportunity as opposed to enhancement matches or extra work as an unsigned talent. She is local to the area, after moving from the northeast to pursue wrestling several years ago. She clarified that her IMPACT run ended when they stopped taping in Florida.
Aleister Black Theme
Much has been made of Aleister Black's new theme, but Fightful has heard a little more on the situation.
One wrestler reached out to us to note that Black himself had a hand in picking or switching the new theme, after seeing much of the blame cast on WWE online. WWE has been slowly moving away from CFO$ themes, but we do know of multiple wrestlers who were able to keep their themes after rejecting new ones.
We've yet to confirm the decision with Black or WWE, but have had it corroborated from multiple Raw stars.
As mentioned, we have an interview with Ben Carter, where he talks about his career to this point.
Britt Baker put him over to Tony Khan without even meeting him, and Christopher Daniels contacted Carter about coming in. Because of his residence status, AEW couldn't legally pay him, so he ended up working the show for free, which he told us he was more than happy to do. He said that the experience was a whirlwind and really came into perspective how big the spots were when he saw the buzz online. He sounded happy to meet and work with Tony Khan, and mentioned them bonding over soccer.
Carter would be happy to team with Lee Johnson, and seemed very happy that Johnson was getting a lot of praise after their match as well. Unfortunately Carter ended up with COVID-19, and had to pull out of a dream match with Alex Shelley, but said he was feeling good.
We spoke of Carter's future, and though he wouldn't outright confirm it, he said that he's in a great spot right now and has plenty of decisions to make. He has to get his visa situation sorted out first, which is easier said than done during a pandemic.
WWE went back to the "crowd" method for NXT Takeover this weekend. We've heard from several talent and those close to talent that have said that requests were made to bring "friends and family" for the crowd environment on Sunday's NXT Takeover 31. Talent were asked on Friday afternoon to recommend names. Many of those names received information Friday noting that they could bring limited people with them.
Nobody under 16 was permitted without a guardian, face coverings will be required and social distancing policies will be in effect. Those attending were also required to submit a rapid COVID-19 test, temperature check and sign a waiver upon arrival.
Also, we confirmed last week the Takeover PPV would be emanating from the WWE Performance Center.
WWE usually records Raw Underground ahead, but none were filmed last week. However, Fightful heard that the company was already short on available names due to exposure and quarantine in connection with the COVID-19 outbreak. The segment was deemed unnecessary as a result.