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.
We've ended up interviewing Hangman Page about five times since Fightful launched, and he's been at a career height for each one of them, to which he told us "wait until this time next year." He's declared his intent to capture the AEW Championship, but has admitted he doesn't know what a design for that championship would look like. Personally, he stated that the old WWF Winged Eagle Championship and the NWA Ten Pounds Of Gold are his ideal looks for title belts. Speaking of not knowing, he joked that All Elite Wrestling doesn't own a wrestling ring yet. I pressed him on his preference, and he said that he prefers a 20x20 ring to an 18x18, although the first time he worked in a 20x20 was an adjustment. He said that once he came back from Japan working in that size ring, everything seemed way small.
He joked with us initially that he learned of All Elite Wrestling on January 2, 2019 -- when he was contractually available to leave ROH. On a more serious note, he said that the core group could tell leading up to All In that the time was right and that something special was forming that was going to lead to them doing their own thing. As far as his involvement with the company, he said that he prefers to be on the talent end for now. He wants to focus his attention on what he can do in the ring, even though he's privy to a lot of the conversations.
UFC's Jeff Hughes spoke to James Lynch recently leading in to his UFC debut in Wichita this weekend.. He said that when he became an adult, he actually considered training as a pro wrestler over MMA, but is happy with the move that he made. He points to AJ Styles and Seth Rollins as some of his modern favorites, and talked about how he went to WCW shows.
I spoke to new NXT star Punishment Martinez for a recent Making a Finisher feature that I purposely held off on posting until he made his WWE TV debut in NXT. We talked about developing his sitout chokeslam, which he refers to as the "South of Heaven." He says that his inspiration to wrestle was the Undertaker, and drew from his arsenal. It happened a bit as an accident, because he fell down doing a chokeslam while training under former ECW ref Jim Molineaux. The next time around, Martinez sat out with the attempt to try something different and the two decided on that as his finish. The motivation for the name "South of Heaven" came from a Slayer song.
Martinez says he never had trouble doing the move to anyone in particular, but said that Jay White was a much thicker person than he realized when trying to do a deadlift variation to him. He singled out Will Ospreay, Jay Lethal and QT Marshall as some of the guys who took the move the best, with Marshall having the best sell of the move. He also spoke of a great sell that Frankie Kazarian had of his Psycho Driver move that he sometime used as well.
Fightful's Andrew Thompson was able to speak to former Women of Honor World Champion Sumie Sakai, who opened up about the importance of performing at her highest level in title matches, and how much the championship means to her. She had a very "happy to be there" approach about the possibility of her working the G1 Supercard at Madison Square Garden, saying she'd be open to any match or opponent.
She also covered how she got into the wrestling business, and put over Ring of Honor's partnership with STARDOM and New Japan Pro Wrestling, and opening up a lot of opportunities for herself. She wasn't selfish in the statement, talking about how it also helped out new WOH World Champion Mayu Hazuki, who she says she's happy won the title.
As far as her unsuccessful MMA run, Sakai told Fightful that she needed to compete in MMA so she could afford to live in the states. She had a friend and MMA manager who knew she was a judo black belt and got her a fight on ten days notice, but hadn't trained in MMA prior.
We aired a rather funny clip from Bellator title challenger Jon Fitch recently about how he found out wrestling was scripted when he was a kid. He told us his mother was concerned for his mental health after he found out and "cut the dicks" off of a lot of his WWF LJN figures. Those figures don't actually have dicks, so that raises plenty of questions as it is.
Raw & SD Notes
We're told Heavy Machinery have gone above and beyond backstage to try to make a good impression, including helping clean up after the shows, which has helped them build good will within the company.
It isn't much of a secret, but WWE was very light on time this week's episode of Raw. This led to Ronda Rousey's beat down of Becky Lynch being extended, and then Stephanie McMahon's time killing interview. Then the show ran heavy towards the end of that, causing two abrupt cutaways at the end of the show.
The Dave Batista Instagram video had been shot way earlier in the day, and was going to be presented as a "via satellite" before it was nixed.
I reached out to WWE in regards to what the "WrestleMania correspondent" role means for Michael Che and Colin Jost, but didn't get a response back from them.
There was absolutely no heat on Mandy Rose after the scary spot at Monday's live event that saw Asuka land on her neck. The issue was said to have been a miscommunication, and Asuka was fine with Mandy Rose after it happened.
- Sources that I've spoken to in Impact Wrestling are of the belief that the news of "new contracts" being put out there (and later debunked by SEScoops as being from October), were to help bury the Jeff Jarrett lawsuit news. Expect more to emerge this week.
Impact Wrestling announced via Sporting News that Moose had re-signed with the company. This led to a good amount of confusion, as Moose publicly announced in 2017 he'd signed a three-year deal with Impact, which put him through July 2020. When I asked Impact Wrestling about the contract, they said " Is a multi-year deal. Terms of the deal are not disclosed" which didn't clear up a whole lot.
On the Alicia Fox situation, we're told that she was offered and didn't accept rehab and sort of went "AWOL" after that. We were told that Fox was on "thin ice" after incidents over the last couple of years, one of which was her being in line for a push a couple of years ago until she showed up over two hours late to a show. There were several names within the company who had no idea of what Alicia is up to right now, or even if she was or wasn't at rehab.