I spoke to a backstage employee of WWE who told Fightful that the company was prepared for thunderous boos or a great ovation for Ronda Rousey at Elimination Chamber. The thinking on WWE's behalf was to give Rousey someone that she could be cheered against off the bat in Stephanie McMahon, and to do it in a place where Rousey was perhaps most famous -- Las Vegas, Nevada. She fought there eight times as a professional and amateur fighter, which WWE considered to be a home territory for her. They were thrilled with how the angle came across by the end, considering they knew the real possibility of Rousey getting booed.
Look for Rousey to be very similar to Shayna Baszler in that she'll work more like an MMA fighter than your typical professional wrestler. Baszler gained some (odd) criticism from a fan recently for not running the ropes, something you'll see out of a lot of MMA crossovers. Sean Waltman, among the most level headed of former wrestlers and wrestling opinionists these days, defended Baszler on Twitter over the situation.
Jimmy Jacobs spoke with me last week and we discussed his decision to head to Impact Wrestling after his WWE departure. He said that he'd had talks with Ring of Honor around the time that he made his cameo on ROH PPV. Despite his relationship with Bullet Club and ties to Being The Elite that got him fired from WWE, he said that the group didn't really have much to say of any influence on his decision to choose Impact Wrestling over Ring of Honor. He also said that he's on a handshake deal with Impact wrestling, something I'm told is prevalent in the company under the current management team.
Bray Wyatt And Matt Hardy
I've been told by several wrestlers that Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt were campaigning hard to Vince McMahon to get their program going in the direction they want to go. Virtually all of the assets that helped make the "Broken" Matt Hardy character so popular are now at WWE's disposal -- Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Jeremy Borash, Reby Hardy, Maxel, Vanguard 1, Senor Benjamin, as well as TNA footage. I typically try to stay away from reporting storyline news myself because I don't see a huge benefit of it, but I'm told that Vince McMahon has given into some of the requests creatively for Hardy and Wyatt.
One of the same people that I spoke to said they would be very surprised if Matt Hardy didn't end up working for WWE after his in-ring career was over in some sort of creative capacity and has expressed his desire to do so. Matt was also considered for a creative role in TNA Wrestling before his departure last year, but issues with Jeff Jarrett prevented that and helped contribute to the exit of the Hardy family from the company.
In my interview with Rhett Titus which aired on Fightful, Pro Wrestling Unlimited and The List & Ya Boy, I spoke to Titus who has had nothing short of an impressive run -- at the very least in duration -- with Ring of Honor at over a decade. Titus opened up to me about knowing his spot on the ROH roster, something he sees as crucial in him being around as long as he has. He also spoke about Kenny King's on and off again relationship with Ring of Honor, and admitted that when King left years ago it was unfortunate for him because he still had some additional time on his own contract.
In some Fightful news, you may have noticed that we've been doing some work with the Pro Wrestling Unlimited Youtube channel. I don't think it's much of a secret that I'm always looking for the next big piece of content, and I've recognized that video reporting is a big part of that. We've done some of that on our own, but I consider Pro Wrestling Unlimited the best in that space, and have wanted to put together a partnership. You'll see their videos embedded in many of our articles and all of our fight-size wrestling articles. They also prepare videos for this weekly feature, and we'll syndicate The List & Ya Boy on their channel, and you'll likely hear them appear on some of our podcasts and vice versa. Go ahead and give them follows on Twitter and subscribe to them on Youtube if you haven't already.
In some more Fightful news, I decided to take this non-PPV wrestling weekends to release full editions of a couple of shoot interviews I've done. One if from Kenny Dykstra, filmed in 2017 for a List & Ya Boy series. I ask him about returning to Smackdown, college football, running into Mickie James & John Cena, and a lot more. The other was with Tim Storm, who I spoke to for the "From Old To Gold" long-form feature I put together. He tells a pretty funny story about being one of Ahmed Johnson's last programs in pro wrestling almost 15 years ago that I though was really good. These were a couple of my favorite interviews of 2017 as both guys were really genuine, and I'm glad I've finally found a spot to release the full editions. There will be several more that I end up releasing as time goes on, because I have no shortage of unreleased material.
Rey Mysterio Rumors
Much has been made about a Rey Mysterio return to WWE. I've been told no deal is done, but the two sides will be talking soon. Mysterio was actually at a WWE Smackdown Live house show on Monday night in San Diego, California. When I asked a source in WWE about the rumor of Mysterio possibly wrestling Cena, a backstage employee told me "If Mysterio is facing John Cena at Wrestlemania, it wasn't hammered out in the last week of February.