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.
Taven & Lethal
If you wanna talk about pointless media calls, just go ahead and get in one that involves any heel pro wrestler that stays in character during the duration of it. These things often aren't broadcast, so there's not a ton of reason to remain as such when the media is looking to gain stories to help promote whatever event is coming up. Either way, we talked to Matt Taven, who admitted that the "Real World Championship" was still in his possession, and wasn't going away forever.
Jay Lethal, on the other hand, was more open. He talked about the "Real World Championship" from a visual perspective, saying that it wasn't that different from the ROH World Title outside of a purple strap and more stones, with Taven's name on it. He admitted that destroying the title belt was one of the most fun experiences he's had, noting he doesn't think he's ever had to swing an axe. He mentioned he's so bad at baseball, that's why you've never seen that aspect of a Randy Savage impersonation from him.
Fightful's Carlos Toro spoke to Daga to promote Impact Wrestling's United We Stand show. The interview was conducted in Spanish, but Carlos was kind enough to provide English subtitles.
Daga spoke of his short time in Impact, and said that he went above and beyond to act professionally, and was met with the same courtesy from the time he walked in the door. He put over the importance of the evolution of wrestling and adding styles as to not be one dimensional in today's wrestling landscape.
The star also revealed how he got his ring name -- which means 'Dagger' in Spanish, and says that he actually picked it up when he was a teenager. Eventually he landed on it because he believes short, concise, simple names are more memorable. He also spoke of originally competing under a mask and a few different names before he spoke of his current situation.
Daga also challenged Pentagon to a bowling match. Yep.
Ryan just returned from injury, which fortunately didn't require surgery -- which was a best case scenario for him. He told us that the fact he was able to make headlines with some of his thumb wars and staring contests helped him retain and even gain bookings while he was hurt.
One of the most interesting aspects of our interview was Ryan opening up about how "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan showed him support at a recent show. Duggan approached Ryan and told him he understands what it's like to search for something -- specifically a gimmick -- to get over, then be attached to it for much of his career. Basically, it was Joey Ryan and Jim Duggan discussing how they each got their wood over, which is fantastic pro wrestling.
Impact and Lucha Underground's Drago spoke to Fightful ahead of United We Stand. He told Carlos Toro that there wasn't a lot that he had to alter in order to make the transition from Lucha Underground over to Impact Wrestling. He sees Lucha Underground AS a show that honors the tradition of pro wrestling more than Impact, but said that he enjoyed working for both promotions.
He was also asked about his unique look and said that he wanted to develop something that was going to leave an impression on an audience. He was hoping for something closer to a classic mask but worked with special effects people who specialized in latex, and had to have precise body measurements for the suit. He's happy with it now, but wasn't sure how it would get over with the crowd and noted that he had to adjust to wrestling in the mask.
AIW's John Thorne spoke to me ahead of Slumber Party Massacre and told me that Scott Steiner actually went radio silent for about six weeks after he heard that he was going to be booked against Hornswoggle on the show. Eventually Steiner got in touch with Thorne and communicated to him that he had reservations about competing against Hornswoggle because of a poor experience in a WCW "midget tossing competition." Yep.
Thorne also told me that he jumped at the opportunity to book Otani when the opportunity was presented, and felt like Eddie Kingston was the best possible matchup to stay true to the AIW brand.
I asked Triple H about the thought process of bringing in managers to NXT, and the Performance Center environment, specifically Stokely Hathaway. Triple H admits that the business is cyclical -- which seemed like more of a cover as to why WWE didn't implement managers for quite some time. He told me that Stokely made an impression, which is why he ended up in NXT. It's interesting that Triple H mentioned Robbie E in the same breath when it came to managers, as well. He said that talents like them who can get over and get other people over in multiple ways are important to what they're trying to do in NXT.
I interviewed "Bad Boy" Joey Janela ahead of Spring Break 3, and he clarified why 911 ended up backing out of the show -- he cited family issues. Janela would go on to tell me of several other names that he attempted to book for last year's show. Akeem was set for the event, and actually pulled out the weekend of the show because of his house flooding. Janela and company had already bought his dashiki and hat for the event. Justin Credible was also pegged for the event's "Clusterfuck" event, where he would be eliminated and then go under the ring, only to emerge in Aldo Montoya gear. D-Lo Brown was another name that ended up falling through.
A couple of names that didn't fall through were Great Sasuke last year, and Bogus Sting this year. Janela put over how easy Sasuke was to deal with and how professional he was. As for Bogus Sting, he said it was some of the most attention their social media had gained for a show announcement thus far.
Contrary to reports, The Undertaker was not backstage at Smackdown Live this week. As of Wednesday, people backstage had not been informed of any plans involving Undertaker at WrestleMania. Seth Rollins, however, was backstage at Smackdown.
Fightful Select reported Sunday afternoon that HBO's "Last Week Tonight" would take a look at the independent contractor status of WWE wrestlers. When Fightful reached out to several Superstars for their thoughts, word of the episode made the rounds.
As WWE had mentioned in their statement, they had been contacted for comment on several of the points. Fightful confirmed that several others within the wrestling world -- including for competing promotions and media outlets -- were also contacted. Some of the subject matter was disclosed and checked for clarity.
As reported on Fightful Select, Fightful spoke to several members of the WWE roster about the episode. While it was a hot topic at Hershey's live event, it didn't seem like a "must watch," as several we heard from skipped out on it.
One (who admitted they only read the recap online) considered the piece "hacky" and said that "at least he's good at saying he's a fan." Another told us they watched, and enjoyed the segment and considered it informative, but said that the people who helped him research the piece probably should have let him know about Roman Reigns' condition before delivering a now-controversial joke about him. Outside of that, the long-time talent said it was a "home run."