Fightful Wrestling Weekly 1/19: WrestleMania, Cardona, More!

Kay Lee Ray

In researching for our huge Royal Rumble feature, we've learned of some things that happened with last year's match. Kay Lee Ray was brought to the venue and rehearsal, but was never given a number to be in the match. Talent would get a notification within the talent relations app to come to the rehearsal, but much of the NXT roster had no idea if they'd actually be in the show until the night before at said rehearsals.

Dakota Kai Returns At NXT Halloween Havoc

Setting up the Women's Royal Rumble

As far as constructing the Royal Rumble match, last year's women's Royal Rumble match was split up into two parts and the roster and producers talked it out the night before the show at the hotel for roughly an hour or two. Those we spoke to said they did a light run through but not a full on rehearsal, and then ran through their numbers again. The match was pre-written and worked out. Tyson Kidd and Adam Pearce helped put the match together with heavy input from women involved in the Royal Rumble.

Retribution Contracts

Fightful has learned details on new contract offers to members of Retribution. Several sources with knowledge of the deals say that in the fall of 2020 WWE offered each member of the stable -- not including Ali -- three year contracts worth $250,000 per year. This is significantly lower than a lot of the incoming deal offers made in the last two years with more competition on the scene, but obviously the state of the world has changed things in that regard. Some of the call-ups earlier last year were told that they could possibly re-negotiate offers when and if things change, but we weren't told if Retribution were extended the same courtesy, or even if they signed on the dotted line. We have heard of numerous wrestlers in WWE who have opted to pass on renewing their contracts, instead choosing to wait until their leverage is better.

Chris Bey- NJPW- Scott D'Amore

Things look pretty smooth on the New Japan USA-IMPACT side of things. Many were surprised when Chris Bey was offered a spot in the Super J-Cup Tournament. According to Bey, he read the pitch and was very flattered, but never thought that he'd actually get to participate in it. However, New Japan Pro Wrestling had already gained approval from Scott D'Amore. Once Bey found that out, he was full steam ahead on doing the tournament.

COVID

WWE announced Monday, January 11 that Drew McIntyre had tested positive for COVID-19 and was in quarantine, but he's far from the only one coming out of a busy holiday season. Another string of positive COVID tests hit the wrestling world. We're told that shows from WWE, All Elite Wrestling and IMPACT Wrestling were all affected, with several matches and appearances nixed as a result of this. Sources in WWE said that they expected positive tests after the holidays, and were surprised that things weren't worse considering the circumstances. IMPACT Wrestling tapes a couple months worth of shows this weekend into next week, and AEW filmed two weeks worth of shows last week. Fightful gained confirmation that people set for Raw, Smackdown, AEW and IMPACT tapings were affected as a result.

IMPACT Tapings

Most of IMPACT Wrestling's roster travels in on Friday for their next set of tapings. The company has Hard to Kill on Saturday, and then films until early in the following week. Much like recent tapings, this will cover a couple of months of content. We've not heard if there will be AEW involvement, but this will be the first set of IMPACT tapings where the partnership is not a poorly kept secret.

ROH Tapings

ROH has tapings this week, and is actually the only company filming that we've not heard of any positive tests from, though they're likely to catch some based on their own testing. We're told ROH's methods are very stringent, and their bubble is very strict. Much of the talent will arrive this weekend on Saturday, and then television tapings are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday of next week to put content for the next month or so in the can. Pre-tapes for some are scheduled early in the week, as well.

NXT Thunderdome

The NXT fan experience tonight is much different than other WWE shows. Attendees were asked to show up an hour early and had to provide state issued ID to gain access. It was a different layout than previous WWE shows

WWE Performance Center news

Plenty of frustrated names at the WWE Performance Center, which has been tradition of late since the pandemic started. Trainees are back at the Performance Center full-time, training five days a week in the midst of the pandemic. Those that we've spoken to at the Performance Center say that they are typically only COVID-19 tested once a week, and train the rest of the week. WWE had initially been doing virtual classes, before a few days a week.

Raw finish

WWE's finish for Monday Night Raw was planned whether or not Triple H was involved, according to sources. Drew McIntyre was planned for the episode of Raw before contracting Coronavirus and was set to face Randy Orton. However, we've been told that the Alexa Bliss fireball finish was the plan all along, regardless of if it was Triple H or Drew McIntyre. WWE had planned for McIntyre to be there through last weekend, when he tested positive. Also, for those wondering, the fire was not computer generated, just heavily edited.

Matt Cardona-IMPACT

Matt Cardona, the former Zack Ryder, made his IMPACT Wrestling debut tonight, and it was said on commentary that "he's with IMPACT Wrestling," which is true...for this week. We're told that as of now, Cardona does not have a full-time contract with IMPACT and is working this week's television tapings.

WrestleMania

WWE confirmed Fightful's story that WrestleMania would be moved back to the second week of April, and take place in Tampa. The show was originally scheduled for late March.

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