Impact Wrestling saw a host of names say their goodbyes at the ongoing set of tapings.
Lashley finished up with Impact, and is said to have "his pick of the litter" of where to work, but it's said he's not that interested in working a full-time schedule at this point. There was a lot of bad blood between Lashley and WWE when he left a decade ago, but he's a commodity, and WWE has cared less about age and schedule of late. He's also not competed in MMA in over a year, and isn't factored into Bellator's Heavyweight title tournament.
Ethan Carter III applied for a trademark on his name days after Impact made it known that wrestlers would retain the intellectual property of the characters they portray on their television program. He asked for his release in November, but despite that, was said to get along very well with the current regime of Don Callis and Scott D'Amore, and leaves on very good terms with the company. I'm told he already has suitors. In addition to that, he's already competed on the WWE main roster, so if that option opens up, he'd not necessarily have face the NXT mandate that many do -- though it is an option. He's pulled out of a January 28th show. I've been told by those in WWE that he's joining the company.
Laurel Van Ness is leaving as well. There was interest in her from WWE before she signed with Impact, but that's said to be accelerated significantly after seeing her range as a character and her in-ring improvement. One source at WWE said they'd be surprised if she wasn't signed in 2018.
After working six sets of tapings Chris Adonis/Chris Masters is also gone from Impact. I'm told that a WWE return isn't in the cards.
Overall, the famed "Impact morale" was said to be high. I heard no reports of any of the aforementioned names leaving on anything less than good terms, and Don Callis and Scott D'Amore are well liked and retain the confidence of those on the roster I spoke with. Another former Impact talent contacted me after the story ran saying they heard the contrary -- that it was like "a morgue."
WWE Production and News
- I spoke to former WCW Producer Neal Pruitt (who provided the voice of the NWO commercials) this week, and we spoke about some of the zooms and camera cuts that I (and many others) often complain about. We'll have a full story on this, but I've talked to two wrestlers in WWE anonymously who echoed Neal's sentiments about the production of the show often hurting the work that they put in. I'll have a full story on this hopefully this weekend.
- WWE has been surprised by the interest in Mixed Match Challenge, both from the views on Facebook, but especially from the Youtube end of things. Some of the Mixed Match Challenge team reveal videos cracked a million views on Youtube, and cost the company virtually nothing to make. WWE is very high on their digital content, which is why you see Youtube getting a lot of exclusive content even with the Network.
In the aforementioned interview with Neal Pruitt to promote his Secrets Of WCW Nitro podcast, he said that often times he would get format sheets for the program in the middle of a show. I was motivated to ask him about it after he posted one of the sheets with a time of 7:31 PM EST -- 29 minutes before the show --- on his website. He also talked about some of the challenges of live vs. taped, and recalled how Ric Flair would have his hair wet in shots earlier in the day in rehearsal, and dry during the actual show, which prevented them from using any of the rehearsal footage that may have ended up being better.
Pruitt also has footage in an archive from backstage at the last ever WCW Nitro that isn't owned by WWE. The idea was presented to him by an editor who thought that the footage would be compelling. He seemed interested in making a documentary of the footage but it was clear that was for something down the line and work hadn't started on it in any way.
He said that despite an episode of WCW Worldwide airing a few days later, after Nitro his job was done and he packed up all of his stuff and got out.
We interviewed Bruce Prichard for this week's List & Ya Boy as well, and I discussed topics from his podcast, live show, his run in TNA and more. We also ended up talking about the Brawl For All. I had interviewed Bruce for my Brawl For All feature in 2016, and it was referenced at the beginning of a podcast he did covering the topic. After talking about that, the subject of Ludvig Borga came up. Many overlook or don't remember it, but Borga -- who was billed as an unstoppable bad ass in his WWF days, had a wildly unsuccessful MMA run. Prichard indicated that after his boxing and pro wrestling run that Borga had people in his ear telling him he was the baddest dude int he world, and would quickly find out that isn't the case whatsoever.
When speaking about the Brawl For All, Prichard said that Steve Blackman really didn't want to hurt Marc Mero, so he just took Mero down repeatedly. Blackman was one of the names I wanted to speak to for the feature, but he's completely off the radar.
I have a couple of projects I'm working on which will be recurring on the site. I'm working on bringing back the Squash City features that we were able to run in the Summer, and I'm hoping to add a segment where pro wrestlers talk about what went in to creating their finishers. The series will run on our Youtube separate from our List & Ya Boy interviews, much like the soon-to-be revived
We also have a New Japan Pro Wrestling preview segment coming up soon that I think our viewers will be extremely happy about. We'll hopefully have more news on that next week ahead of the Sapporo shows.
Check out the last Fightful Wrestling Weekly at this link.