Fightful Wrestling Weekly (1/18): Casual Fans, AEW, WOW On AXS, WWE Tryouts

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.

The Revival

As of now, I've nothing new on my initial report regarding the Revival, but I fully believe that they want out.

Women Of Wrestling On AXS

Women of Wrestling is launching on AXS in January, and has a lot of support from some important people behind it. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss is a business partner in the deal, and was a big part of the agreement coming together. WOW has McClane, Buss, Mark Burnett and Mark Cuban all behind it, so if it doesn't work out it's not for lack of resources and push. He joked that Buss (Lakers Owner) and Cuban (Mavericks Owner) keep their distance during basketball games.

I spoke to David McClane, who created GLOW and sold it after season 2 was taped. He said that his real vision of GLOW and what he wanted it to be is coming true with WOW. He drew a lot of parallels to the television GLOW series, how colorful the costumes and personalities are, but said that the athletes of today are so much more advanced and give them a lot of the flexibility that they needed back in the 1980s.

McClane told me that WOW went out of their way to ask the viewers who were at their first set of TV tapings to not post results or videos online. He credited the fans for wanting to see WOW succeed as a factor in the reason why none of the results or footage have emerged since then.

The original WOW deal is for eight one hour episodes, but the goal is 26 one hour episodes. They're hoping to learn from the first eight, reassess, and create more so they can get into the international television market. He wants to increase that number in year two and eventually start running live shows like New Japan is doing on AXS. WOW has done a lot of surveying and questioning and research ahead of launching their show in order to find out what fans want.

I'd asked about Jungle Grrrl -- who has been an original since the early days of WOW. He put her over big time and said that despite the fact that she isn't out on the indie circuits, she got high praise from others on the show as one of the top talents they've worked with. Jungle Grrrl has a throwback look, and is a physical specimen that stood out on the first look that they sent us.

Some of WOW in the past has been criticized for lacking ring psychology (specifically as it pertains to pinfalls) and having a lot of standing around waiting for spots despite having the ability to heavily edit their shows. WOW's debut on AXS will answer a lot of questions about how far they've come, and to retain an NJPW audience, they'll need to clean up those weaknesses.

Eric Spicely/WWE Tryouts

UFC veteran Eric Spicely fights this weekend, and was the subject of a recent interview by FightfulMMA.com's James Lynch. Spicely had a WWE tryout recently, and usually a fighter competing so soon after a tryout isn't a really great indication of them getting signed. He told Lynch that he's trained under NXT's Oney Lorcan to prepare for a pro wrestling career, and that Lorcan actually helped prepare him for the drills in the tryout. As for the tryout itself, Spicely said he was put through the ringer, but it isn't as bad as a lot of people make it out to be, and nerves didn't really get to him while he was participating, as it felt more like another TUF tryout.

Speaking of the tryout itself, Spicely said that it lasted about a week, and started at 9 am every morning on the dot and went straight through until about 6 PM every evening. Lacey Evans, who just got called up to WWE's main roster, helped put the tryouts on, serving as a drill instructor. Spicely says that she would often scream at tryout participants who were taking breaks when they weren't supposed to, or were leaning on the ring during drills.

Sonjay Dutt

It's been over a year since Sonjay Dutt was put out of action after tearing his Achilles. He's worked backstage in IMPACT ever since then and has done a little bit of commentary work, but it wasn't a fit for him. When Fightful asked IMPACT's Ross Forman and Josh Mathews about an update on Dutt returning to the ring, they had nothing on the situation. It doesn't seem like either side is in a rush to make it happen, but that's purely me reading into the situation. I've heard he's actually taken some WrestleMania weekend bookings, so it seems like he's getting ahead of things and does plan on a return to the ring.

The Casual Fan

Jacobs discussed and broke down to me measuring WWE audiences in particular recently, mentioning crowd reactions (and how people who attend live generally spend the most money of any fans), merchandise sales, social media responses and more. He doesn't seem to agree with the fabled "casual" fan based on hypothetical and theoretical actions to gain fans that already aren't there.

I asked Jimmy about specific instances when he recalls Vince McMahon changing his mind based on the crowd or viewer reception. While he didn't say it was the crowd that changed Vince's mind, there were a series of crowd-related circumstances that led to AJ Styles getting a major push after Vince McMahon wasn't sure if anyone would know him, if Styles had a character or any kind, and attributed his Royal Rumble pop to just being one crowd.

All Elite

I had an update on the the MLW status of some talent this week. MJF is still under a two year deal and Joey Janela was always on a per-show basis and is said to still be on really good terms with MLW. Janela appeared for MLW several times throughout 2018 prior to his knee injury.

Every AEW contract seems like it's different from the outside looking in, but some talent have been told to finish up their independent dates ahead of Double or Nothing.

More