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. We also provide clarity and additional info to other reports.
As we reported on Fightful Select Monday, the Smackdown crew and most within NXT had no idea that Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Aleister Black and Ricochet were going to the main roster, and weren't given any real indication of how it would affect their shows until they showed up to film them. We had several NXT names who reached out in concern of Ciampa's knee as their social media was blowing up in the moments following the nasty spot on Smackdown. Upon getting backstage, Ciampa ensured WWE that he was fine, as did Sheamus.
There were a lot of changes to WWE Elimination Chamber the day of the show. Early afternoon talent and officials were informed that the Women's Tag Team Title match was going to headline the night's event. Shortly before 4 EST, Vince McMahon himself changed his mind, with the idea that the men's Chamber match with Kofi Kingston's performance would get a more desired reaction to close the show. This left a lot of the women in a mad dash to prepare, with a couple of hours less to have makeup done than originally planned.
The rehearsals for this event were heavy, going on until minutes before doors opened at 5 PM EST the day of the show. The evening before the rehearsals went so long (well past midnight local time) that the venue actually had to ask them to wrap it up for the night.
Let me reiterate, we were told that the original plan for Mustafa Ali was a "showcase" on Tuesday's Smackdown Live. That doesn't mean we were told that he was supposed to go a full hour, or that he was supposed to have the same spot Kofi Kingston did.
We've started to add "rumor killers" to our Fightful Select service, and I thought here was as good a place as any to clarify some of those. Despite Cris Cyborg taking pictures outside of WWE's Performance Center and her management perpetuating a story from TerezOwens.com that Ronda Rousey refused to re-sign if Cyborg came into WWE, we're told by numerous WWE sources that is completely fabricated. WWE and Cyborg haven't had formal talks, she hasn't trained, and there's no real interest on WWE's end to bring Cyborg in. Beyond that, I was told that the efforts from Cyborg's management pushing this story "was not appreciated," and the company wouldn't compromise a relationship with Ronda to bring in Cyborg if she were uncomfortable with it. Cyborg's management has been notoriously counterproductive at times, especially on social media.
I interviewed Angelina Love ahead of Ladies Night Out 5, where she faces Impact Wrestling's Kiera Hogan. She said that the promoters actually gave her a choice of who to face, with the only condition being that it be someone that Angelina hadn't wrestled before. Hogan and Love had met years prior at a Georgia indie show, where Angelina says Kiera was eager for input and advice and made a great impression on her.
Angelina walked us through her numerous exits from TNA Wrestling over the years, from visa problems to creative issues to just her contract running out. She said that her most recent departure came when she didn't feel she was being used to her full potential when she and Davey Richards were taking on Alisha and Eddie Edwards. She also said that while pregnant with her child and still under contract, she helped do hair and makeup for TNA backstage.
Despite those issues with Impact Wrestling/TNA/NWA:TNA, Angelina says she has a positive relationship with Scott D'Amore, and considering she's from Ontario, she's worked for him plenty of the times. As far as wrestling these days, Love reiterated that her son comes first, but she has the benefit of a flexible day job that allows for her to take bookings on occasion. Angelina spoke positively of working for House of Hardcore and Tommy Dreamer, saying "if you have a boss, you want it to be Tommy Dreamer."
In one of our "Jimmy Van's Match Archive" clips from 2001, Angelina Love showed up looking like a clone of Lita. Much to our surprise -- despite the hair, pants, clothes in general and moves -- Angelina stated that Lita wasn't a major influence on her early on. We spoke about how different wrestling is for women today than when she got started in 2000.
Angelina will also be a part of the first full season of Enhancement Stories on Fightful, talking about her early NWA: TNA days and her match with Trinity.
WWE HOF mandatory
Another note on the WWE Hall of Fame this year, WWE has made attendance mandatory for the duration of the show. This has frustrated some talent that we spoke to, as they have an early morning for WrestleMania the following day. Vince McMahon wasn't happy about the cuts during induction speeches that saw a plethora of empty seats. This will go up against Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling's G1 Supercard show. For those asking, WWE doesn't have a set schedule as of yet for 2020's WrestleMania weekend.
Lauren Murphy-Becky Lynch
We spoke to Lauren Murphy recently as well. She said that she watched Becky Lynch's Royal Rumble win, and in doing so didn't think she could personally make that transition to wrestling because she keeps to herself way more. She stated that Becky Lynch has always been kind to her and has visited the MMA Lab in the past.
We didn't get as much news out of UFC fighter Curtis Millender as we did his opinions on the current day WWE product. Millender said that he's hosting a WrestleMania watch party this year, and isn't particularly a big Ronda Rousey fan, but hopes her match headlines the show.
I followed up with Impact's Josh Mathews in regards to a story he told me about originally being pegged for the X-Division and an X-Division title run in the early days of NWA: TNA. He expanded on it by going as far as to say that the TNA management ripped up his contract. Josh ended up working for WWE for over a decade before heading back to Impact.