I spoke to Arn Anderson, who is out of the WCW/WWE umbrella for the first time in over 30 years, with 22 of those being when he couldn't even wrestle. That didn't stop WWE from at least testing the waters, he said. He was told by his doctors early on in retirement that he would never be cleared to wrestle and that he just shouldn't bother asking. He said he got questions from high places asking if he could go, and always said that he would be willing to do what he could, but he'd be doing it without being cleared. That was the case in 2000 when he did a couple of spots with David Flair as well. Arn stated that WWE, however, was not willing to take the risk and responsibility of putting him in the ring to wrestle without being cleared. He said that the level of the talent and the situation would dictate whether or not he was willing to do spinebuster spots here and there.
That spinebuster has been adopted by several wrestlers over the year, which Anderson joked that he didn't understand because it doesn't win matches. However, the Anderson name has been adopted, too. He said he'd heard of CW Anderson early in his career, and CW came to him and asked for his blessing, which he provided. Arn noted that Karl Anderson was much of the same situation, and anyone that can enhance themselves and make money doing it, more power to them. He called Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows two of his favorite people.
Anderson says he was the agent for about 90-95 percent of John Cena's matches in WWE, although over the last few years that'd changed a bit. Anderson was responsible for the mechanics and psychology of Cena's basics, and telling Cena what not to do and why. He said that Cena was very receptive and put him over big as a person. Anderson mentioned that Cena and himself fell out of touch when Cena's movie career took off, but that he enjoyed all of working with him.
Last week, we revealed that Randy Orton's deal is indeed up in after June 2020, at least as of now. For those that think he's only motivated by money, that doesn't seem to be the case as of right now, because we're told that Orton himself went to Vince McMahon trying to push a faction with the Revival. We saw glimpses of it on WWE TV, but the push happened for quite a while before they were sent to different brands.
- While the Saudi Arabia payouts to WWE talent started off very high, they've decreased for some since the initial show.
- We're told that a follow up match for Saudi Arabia was always planned for Seth Rollins and The Fiend, but originally Saudi Arabia was supposed to be their last one, with a double turn planned.
- We did a special report on the Saudi Arabia travel issues, with full audio at Fightful Select.
- Seth Rollins specified to Fightful this week that he did not speak at the talent meeting on Monday. However, we've heard Rusev, Karl Anderson and AJ Styles all did. We have a full report on Fightful Select
Fightful Select reached out to current and former talent and employees, who backed up some of Mercury's frustration. In regards to the claims of medical negligence, ROH talent informed Fightful that there is no staff trainer, unless otherwise mandated by a particular athletic commission. The roster, however, isn't informed ahead of each event if there is a staff, who it would be, or where it would be located.
Another source of frustration is the company's insistence on not scouting and scaling venues, leaving them looking small and empty. One former name said that Gilleland likes for the LED boards to be shot instead of the crowds, as they're a significant part of the production budget.
Another talent that aired their grievances to us said that they don't want people to stop watching ROH or the talent, but wanted them to call for better treatment of the talent. They also weren't sure how to make Sinclair or ROH do that.
There were conflicting statements within ROH about the status of Shane Taylor. One ROH source claimed that Taylor was negotiating a three-year deal, but Taylor himself responded to Fightful and said
"I haven't negotiated anything as of yet. But all options are on the table."
It was said that in the past, Gilleland had been in favor of producing content and DVDs for current talent as opposed to monetizing former names in that manner, with the recent Kenny Omega DVD being an example given.
Gilleland wasn't without supporters, and Mercury wasn't without detractors near the company, with one source saying it was a "self destruct method" after Mercury was given a "last chance" in ROH by Gilleland personally. Another source claimed that Mercury was not a "good match at this point,"
In regards to the injury claims. For Flip Gordon, one talent claimed that Mercury actually popped his elbow back in, and Jonathan Gresham and another office employee accompanied Jay Lethal to the hospital.
There were additional claims that Mercury would offer to serve as agents for talent who opted out of their ROH deals and could help them get into WWE.
Fightful has reached out to Mercury and Gilleland both. Gilleland refused to comment and Mercury sent the following statement in response to our questions:
I typed that I set Flip’s elbow. I have not, nor will I falsely type. No medical. No concussion protocol. No security. Unethical “circus animal treatment” of talent. No empowerment of women. No women on creative. No talent relations. No fair market value pay. Advantageous predatory behavior from upper management. I provide evidence. I quit and then put in for my release. I am not under contract. If I am- they’ve breached. Go thru the tweets Stooges try to frame it as “me off the wagon and removed” then “mutual”. If anything I typed was inaccurate- would it be contested by now? Would there be a talent meeting yesterday for peace of mind and morale? Everything is seemingly fine, and it looks like I was the problem.