For those unfamiliar with the Fightful Wrestling Weekly, it's about 1,000 words of exclusives or behind the scenes info from Fightful staffers that may be unique to this column, or may be something you've missed from recent interviews. This week's edition drops one day early since Wrestle Kingdom is Friday. With Impact and NWA both running shows this weekend, this will be centric to their product.
For those wondering, there is absolutely no heat on Toni Storm -- or anyone else that has photos leaked without their knowledge -- from a WWE perspective. WWE is all too aware of what any punishment would look like, and quite frankly, don't seem that concerned about it from that perspective anyway. It's not an issue if it happens to a wrestler, performer, and it's not an issue for the hiring process, barring extreme situations that haven't even happened yet. Toni Storm's career should not be affected in any negative manner due to this situation from WWE's side of things, at least.
Fightful's James Lynch spoke to Jack Swagger recently about his upcoming fight for Bellator MMA, and Swagger revealed that R-Truth is looking to play him to the cage by performing a song. Swagger said that several other friends from his WWE days would be there, but he didn't want to reveal who they were. It's worth noting that his fight is the same night of NXT Takeover Phoenix, and it's on Royal Rumble weekend. Don't be surprise if those cameos and appearances change.
Swagger told us that he doesn't really keep up with wrestling much these days, but said that he watched the Crown Jewel match between Undertaker & Kane vs. Shawn Michaels and Triple H, which he reviewed by giving it fart noises. He'd also mentioned how happy he is for Becky Lynch's success, and said that it's not a big surprise to him that Ronda Rousey ended up transitioning over well considering her background.
I got some details -- or lack thereof about the 2019 Crockett Cup. Dave Lagana tells us that he hasn't determined a number for the field yet, and it could be anywhere from 12 up to 64 teams competing. The company was aware the NWA 70 announcement involving Jocephus would be met with cynicism, but wanted to announce it with a bang, and knew that Road Warrior Animal's integration into the announcement would work out considering he's a former winner.
NWA doesn't have access to the footage from the original Crockett Cup, but say that they'll use pictures and also mentioned there are numerous living members of the tournament who can share their thoughts and history for NWA content.
While anything could happen I wouldn't expect to see the last NWA World Tag Team Champion, The Heatseekers, in the tournament. When I asked about the possibility of having them in to "pass the torch," Lagana said that when the NWA was acquired, all the champions were contacted along with promoters to get their title belts back and discuss the process of the NWA moving forward. Everyone who agreed (Jazz and Tim Storm) appeared on Ten Pounds of Gold, while the remainder -- including the Heatseekers -- didn't.
NWA is also open to WWE having a presence in the Crockett Cup, and ideally each major promotion would send along a team to participate. The possibility of having the Crockett Cup at an NXT Takeover was also mentioned, and something Lagana said they'd be open to discussing as well, they just don't want companies using the intellectual property that they own without their consent under the guise that "we didn't think you all would care."
NWA has already confirmed they're working with ROH a bit on this.
I reached out to several WWE wrestlers and personalities on the condition of anonymity about the formation of All Elite Wrestling, and gained a pretty unanimous response. I should note that only about half of those contacted replied, with a couple of others stating that they didn't feel comfortable talking about the company, even anonymously.
The consensus was that more places to work is a major positive, but there were a lot of wrestlers who hadn't been clued in to their business models. On the other hand, several wrestlers in WWE learned of the news as far back as September. The most clued in seem to think that this is a legitimate venture with a great shot of making it work because of how in tune the players are with wrestling in 2019, but also said it would be key that they break through to the fabled casual fan.
I decided to save this subject of the Weekly for another couple of weeks after the article to let some of the irrational heat die down, but Fightful contributor and Diva Dirt managing editor Kristen Ashly spoke to several female wrestlers about the NJPW-women debate that pops up every couple of years.
NXT's Chelsea Green, who gained a ton of heat from people thinking she meant New Japan Pro Wrestling when tweeting about promotions without women, actually said she doesn't think NJPW needs women, and pointed to female-only promotions in the region.
Veda Scott echoed that sentiment but said that fans that want to see Joshi expand or improve should help out financially as opposed to simply liking gifs that are posted on Twitter. She pointed to the streaming services available as an easy way to do so.
Independent star Kylie Rae said she prefers to look at wrestlers as wrestlers as opposed to gender, and she doesn't want someone in any company under the guise that said company needs someone of that gender.
WWE's Maria Kanellis had a more lengthy and introspective approach, having worked for New Japan Pro Wrestling in the past. She said that there are great all men's and female promotions that have churned out great talent, but if you want to see women's wrestling you have to stand up and ask for it, and show up when it happens. She also wanted to be careful to not destroy another market just to get women on a New Japan Pro Wrestling show. Maria said that while she was in NJPW, she got her own dressing room and merchandise, and hopes it opens the door for more women to work there.
I should note that as it came personally "needs" isn't something that was a part of my argument, and the job as media is to not "support" individual companies, but cover them.