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.
350 Days documentarian Darren Atola talked to us again to promote the film. He'd stated that he was close with a couple of the names before he made the documentary, but a lot of them were people he'd contacted, paid and filmed along the way. He said he didn't face any controversial or uncooperative names -- which is a surprise considering that over three dozen people were interviewed for the doc. Lex Luger was the big surprise, as his reputation has preceded him. As many that deal with Lex Luger these days would tell you, he's a categorically different person than the stories you hear of him from during his pro wrestling career.
ROH Shakeup (as first ran this week)
Monster Factory's Danny Cage was fired Ring of Honor after joining the company in early December. From what we're told he's still being paid by the company, and had a lot of ideas how to shift ROH and Future of Honor's production, which was met with heavy resistance. As for the split, we're told that ROH is still planning an event at Monster Factory this Spring, and Cage is on good terms with Delirious. Joey Mercury is taking over his role.
Speaking of Joey Mercury, Fightful reported this week that he was instrumental in getting Sons of Savagery signed by the company, and has pushed for Maria Manic to come in as well. All of which are alumni from MCW, where he's served as a trainer.
Mercury and Bully Ray are said to be gaining influence within Ring of Honor, while Delirious' (Hunter Johnston) creative input has decreased. Those that we spoke to expected this to accelerate as time moves on.
Those we spoke to in ROH say that there was some heat on any number of people who made the All In deal a reality, as the company ended up helping give crash courses to their upcoming competition for talent.
We're also told that two people from the ROH office quit since the ROH NJPW G1 Supercard, but haven't been able to gain confirmation on either identity.
Fightful spoke to Stardom's Jamie Hayter about her experience in the company, and wrestling in America for the first time in NYC. She sounded over the moon about her experience thus far in Stardom and told us that she made a quick adjustment to life in Japan and has fit in with Oedo Tai.
She also quit her day job in order to join Stardom last June. She was in the middle of a work shift on lunch and got the offer and subsequently put in her notice. Japan had been a goal of hers, as she grew up watching joshi wrestling, and got emotional when the deal came her way.
Hayter came up with NXT UK star Jinny, and spoke of the development between them and how she's gained respect for her as a result. The training regimen that she undergoes in Japan was also detailed, as well as her physical progression as a result of it.
Tony Schiavone was interviewed ahead of a recent live show with Eric Bischoff, and told me that he feels surprised that he's developed into a beloved name in pro wrestling. While he can be a really colorful personality, and say controversial things, he tells us that he's not had any wrestlers take things the wrong way and cause trouble thus far. He said Billy Kidman was the only exception, but it was a light hearted Twitter war, and they aren't to be taken too seriously.
We talked about WWE's rejection of him after he offered himself up in a production role -- one of his true passions. Since the podcast has taken off, he says he'd still listen to an offer from WWE if they made one, he'd not be willing to give up his podcast or put Conrad Thompson in a disadvantageous position.
Schiavone talked about nostalgia playing a huge role in his re-emergence in the pro wrestling landscape. He thinks that would help benefit All Elite Wrestling to get to use some of the trademarks they've filed for old WCW pay-per-view names. While those events (Battlebowl, etc.) weren't always the best received events, he sees it as a way to capitalize off of fond memories.
His status with Major League Wrestling was clarified as well. With MLW's move to Saturdays this year, it looks like he won't be back with them for the rest of the year. He'd still like to do it, but a sports schedule is getting in his way. He remains under contract to MLW in the mean time.
PCO made his return to Madison Square Garden in April, which was a goal that he always saw as attainable. He told us that he knows much of the audience thought his aspirations of facing Undertaker at WrestleMania were a joke, but he sees ROH and NJPW at Madison Square Garden as something that doesn't fall much shorter. He told me he made the decision to make a full-time return shortly after Starrcast when Bully Ray and Caprice Coleman asked him about how he wanted his future in wrestling to be.
Raw and SD notes
A lot of staff on the Smackdown side weren't informed of Superstar Shakeup names until the day of the show, as WWE wanted to prevent the information from leaking to the public.
Samoa Joe was "sick to the point of barely being able to function" on Monday ahead of WWE Raw, as we'd reported on Fightful Select that night.
To update the Rhea Ripley situation, we've learned that she actually was hurt over a month ago. Ripley was scheduled to work an Ocala house show, and the injury was sustained a couple of days prior. She was thought to be day-to-day at the time.
At no point was WWE expecting Sasha Banks to fly in to Raw or Smackdown after she asked for her release. The company booked early on as if she'd not be there.
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