Former UFC fighter Phil Baroni was a fantastic interview. I'm not sure what exactly I expected going into it, but it over delivered. Baroni was open in talking about his beef with Cody Rhodes, saying he'd rather settle whatever issues they have in the ring, and said he's hoping to get signed to a more stable deal and promotion in the future.
Baroni, on his own, called out Impact Wrestling's Killer Kross for a match at Josh Barnett's Bloodsport that didn't end up happening as Kross is facing Davey Boy Smith Jr. Baroni said that he actually knocked out Kross' father in a toughman competition over twenty years ago and there's some bad blood because of that. He also mentioned that Kross trains in Las Vegas with UFC rival Wanderlei Silva, another reason he's not fond of Kross.
"The New York Bad Ass" has a pretty stern belief of pro wrestling, what it should be, and what's going wrong. He said he doesn't like cartwheels in pro wrestling, even though he could do them "IF HE WANTED." He did admit the recent Lionsault in an MMA fight was cool, too.
In the shocker of the interview, Baroni says he has a degree in biology and wanted to be a vet.
The latest Fightful long-form features Anthony Bowens, an emerging name on the northeastern independent scene who was discovered by Santino Marella and refined by Pat Buck. I'd hoped to speak to both of them for the story but wasn't able to.
Bowens, who I've been told by WWE sources is under their eye, discusses the ups and downs of his career -- notably practically having three tryouts with WWE but going unsigned. As a result, he stepped up his commercial work and started to take improv classes in an effort to become a more well-rounded wrestler.
We spoke about his appearances on WWE TV, and the sadly memorable one where he was viciously knocked out by Authors of Pain's Super Collider. He put none of the blame on Rezar and Akam, and said that they actually went above and beyond to take care of him after the incident, including going back to his hotel to gather his items.
For those asking, I do still have plans to do the Sean O'Haire feature, but tracking down people important to the story has proven difficult.
Alberto Del Rio
It shouldn't be any surprise, but WWE has no interest in bringing in Alberto Del Rio at this moment. The person I asked has no idea if he and Paige retain contact, but said that if they're on bad terms that WWE wouldn't compromise Paige's level of comfortability to bring in a guy who has consistently shown that he can't keep his emotions under control. The same source said that WWE holds Paige in high regard for how she handled herself on the media tour for Fighting With My Family.
Raw + SD
There were initial pushes for the women's tag team match to be a ladder match at WrestleMania, but that was quickly shot down. There are pushes still going for a ladder match of some kind to happen, but others were saying "it's a mess they don't want." I'm not quite sure what that means, but that was the explanation I was given.
It's been happening for a while, but WWE has made concentrated efforts to target hindi and arabic speaking fans with their Youtube videos, including the terms "wrestling" "match" and "superstar" in those respective languages in the tagged terms of their videos.
Charlotte vs. Asuka
There's a lot to get into on the Women's Smackdown Title situation. As of two weeks ago, a giant portion of women on the Smackdown Live roster had no idea what they'd be doing at WrestleMania. In fact, a few of them weren't aware of the big changes to the show until early this week. WWE was keeping the situation very quiet almost all afternoon, and when it had to be explained what was happening, it was done in much more confusing fashion than it actually ended up being.
As far as the Kofi Kingston story line, I was told Tuesday night that there shouldn't be any more on-screen hurdles after the announcement has been made.
I interviewed "Bad Boy" Joey Janela ahead of his Spring Break shows next weekend, and he confirmed to me that the venue has already been booked for next year's Spring Break. There were unsubstantiated reports that WWE would make efforts to try to limit indie shows in the area. Janela told me that Brett Lauderdale went to Tampa last week and signed the contract for the venue, and that he expects this to be the most attended indie wrestling show in the history of WrestleMania weekend.
I talked to Joey Ryan ahead of PENIS PARTY this weekend, which was a fun chat. He said that WrestleCon liked the trend of themed shows, and saw a natural opportunity to incorporate Joey Ryan into the weekend accordingly. He admitted he was a little bit surprised that a company went with the direct "PENIS PARTY" branding of the show as opposed to "Sausage Party" or something of the like. He's also pleasantly surprised at the level of support they've received even after NXT Takeover got moved to Friday night, putting them in direct competition with Janela Spring Break as well.
As far as booking talent for the show, Ryan said that he had his proverbial pick of the litter as it pertained to that. WrestleCon had a huge selection of talent available, and Ryan was really influential when it came to who was on the show. He told us he's looking forward to seeing David Arquette vs. Timothy Thatcher as much as anything. Joey also has two unannounced surprise appearances for WrestleMania weekend.
I talked to Impact Wrestling's Josh Alexander about growing up in the middle of a hot Ontario wrestling scene. He dropped usual names like Eric Young and Tye Dillinger, but told me that Michael Elgin was actually the most integral to his growth as a performer.