Fightful Wrestling Weekly 7/1: Tessa Blanchard, WWE-COVID, Backstage Fight

Arn Anderson MOF

Arn Anderson's Making a Finisher dropped and has some fantastic insight on the move. He went from the gourd buster to the spinebuster, and came up with the move on the fly as he had someone in a bear hug. He wondered to himself how it would look with a slam, and ended up innovating the move accordingly. He also mentioned outright taking the DDT from Jake Roberts because he wanted a move that didn't require him to lift his opponent up.

Wrestling World Reacts To WWE's Firing Of Mark Carrano

Triple H went to the trouble of actually asking Arn Anderson if he could use that version of the move, but Arn also put over Bobby Roode, Rhino and Karl Anderson as all having great spinebusters. He broke down their different versions, but said that he considers his unique to the rest.

Dave Crist

Many allegations have emerged about Dave Crist, which have led to PWInsider reporting that Crist is finished with Impact Wrestling and had actually been kicked out of the locker room. When asking around, we were able to learn from several wrestlers that it stemmed from the injury that Rich Swann sustained earlier this year that has him sidelined to this day. Crist was said to have been booted from the locker room after never apologizing or checking in with Swann after it happened.


MPACT Wrestling terminated Tessa Blanchard's contract, but it was coming due anyway.

Fightful Select has learned that Tessa Blanchard's contract was set to expire on June 30, weeks before she was advertised to defend the IMPACT World Championship at Slammiversary in a 5-way match. With her termination, she's been stripped of that title and is no longer advertised for the match.

We were told weeks ago that IMPACT asked Tessa Blanchard to film promos, but that she asked for a day rate, and the two could not come to terms to make that happen. The release had nothing to do with the controversies from January. She's not appeared on IMPACT tapings since the COVID-19 pandemic started, and has been stuck in Mexico.

We've heard there is interest from other companies, but which ones were not specified to us.

For those asking, there is no non-compete clause tied to the termination of Tessa Blanchard that we're aware of. With her contract set to expire on June 30, a non-compete beyond that would have been seen as an "extension," and she would have had to agreed to it.

Coming out of the last tapings, nearly everyone in Impact we spoke to didn't expect her to appear at Slammiversary. Most of the roster we'd heard from thought her contract extended into July. As far as those in Impact we spoke to go, some thought she'd get interest from AAA and WWE, but that AEW wouldn't try to bring her in despite having Tully Blanchard on the staff.

Fightful has also reached out to Tessa Blanchard on the matter.

Kevin Thorn

My chat with Kevin Thorn is a must watch, as it covers a ton of his career. He thought he was going to get a call-up to the main roster with Tyson Tomko, but Vince McMahon ended up telling him he didn't want tag team wrestlers, so to come up with something else. He pitched Mordecai, which was inspired by Children of the Corn, and Vince McMahon loved it.

Thorn was originally set for a program with The Undertaker, but had that taken away from him when he went to go get a torn labrum fixed. When he got ready, he got yelled at for looking like Undertaker too much, and said Vince McMahon was not happy about it. After he cut his hair to look less like Undertaker, he got yelled at for that, too. He remembered working closely with Dusty Rhodes to prepare for the feud and to film vignettes, but that the idea behind them ended up going to Hade Vansen. Thorn talked to Freddie Prinze Jr and Undertaker of all people. Thorn was scheduled for a WrestleMania program with Undertaker, but quit after it was given to Hade Vansen and then Shawn Michaels, and said he regretted making a stubborn decision. WWE had actually offered him a new contract, but he rejected it.

His original feud with Undertaker was supposed to happen in 2004 under the Mordecai character. However, a bar fight that Thorn was in months before came back to haunt him, and both he and WWE ended up getting sued. As a result, he was taken off TV and the program was abandoned.

Robert Roode

Robert Roode was announced as being traded from Smackdown to Raw along with Dolph Ziggler for AJ Styles. Not that it's much of a surprise at this point, but the reason Bobby Roode hasn't been on WWE TV since Elimination Chamber is that he's stuck in Canada and hasn't been able to get back into the country. As of now, there's no word on when he'll return.

WWE Planning For Shows With Real Fans

WWE has been planning for weeks to make moves outside of the WWE Performance Center and Full Sail University.

The plans that Fightful Select has been made aware of WWE plans to run venues involving real fans, with social distancing rules implemented. Lakeland was listed as a likely landing spot in the RP Funding Center. Ring Of Honor has been to the venue several times over the past few years. A few members of the roster had heard of the plans when we inquired.

The plans we'd heard about call for a weekend taping in July, but as has been the case with WWE of late, those dates can change, and there have been rumors of delays backstage. Please note that "planning" does not mean that they can not implement things differently as their situations change.

Fightful had previously discussed with with Mat Men Radio's Andrew Zarian, who noted WWE had been looking at potential venues with fans involved. Lakeland is about an hour away from Orlando, heading towards Tampa.

Fightful learned tonight that several within WWE were notified that the planned shows with audiences -- specifically Lakeland, which we reported -- had been delayed. No further details were provided. WWE had told us initially the information wasn't correct, but was corroborated by several other outlets before the shows were delayed.

We've reached out to WWE for comment, who said that the information isn't accurate, but did not clarify beyond that.

Elgin/Callihan Fight

Fightful has learned of a physical altercation involving IMPACT Wrestling stars Michael Elgin and Sami Callihan. Fightful was told that the two recently were setting up a match that also involved Ken Shamrock, and disagreed on how the match should start. The disagreement escalated to the point where the two ended up fighting and Scott D'Amore had to step in. Not that it's related, but IMPACT also released a statement that Elgin will no longer appear on their programming. He was involved in the planned Slammiversary main event, and a Team Canada tease.

Smackdown rewrites

In regards to last week's episode of WWE Smackdown, Fightful Select has learned that there were significant re-writes for the show. We don't know how or who things affected beyond that, only that the issues of COVID-19 changed the show significantly.


WWE's COVID-19 situation is a mess.

Upon news of numerous positive tests on Thursday, several members of the roster have contacted Fightful, with one even asking how many positive tests were rumored because "we'd know better than them." WWE wrestlers have not been informed of even an approximate number of tests, let alone who tested positive. This is a far cry from the first positive test three months ago in which WWE provided the name, how it was likely contracted, and an update on the individual via an internal memo.

Main Roster talent we've heard of are generally upset about the handling, with one saying that they'd also prefer if WWE had testing set post-tapings. Another was particularly concerned for Kayla Braxton considering the virus has re-emerged in her.

There were multiple NXT wrestlers who needed to be re-tested after "being exposed to somebody positive," but they tested negative. There was also concern and worry over a couple of small gatherings that took place among wrestlers, considering the rumored numbers are so high. We're told that it's across all kinds of departments, and despite last week's news, there were still some at the PC who were not required to come in for testing until last week.

NXT PC talent were sent a message Thursday morning after 9 AM saying:

"Per Vince, ALL Talent are needed for TV on Friday & Saturday. Please go to PC by 10:30 AM TODAY for drive-through COVID testing. if you took test yesterday, you don't need to today. If you are in high level storyline, you will be off camera. Thanks. **IMPORTANT: after test, you will need to remain ISOLATED AND QUARANTINED until after the TV tapings."

Many talent missed that testing deadline and were awaiting a new location as of 5 PM EST.

We'd heard from several NXT and PC talent that were doing to skip this week's tapings after the second COVID test, then accelerated by the numerous other tests. However, they were urged to come in even after expressing that they weren't comfortable doing so.

Friends and family will not be permitted at the tapings, but were told that it's possible they would be in the future.

Zicky Dice

The NWA roster is about to get a little thinner after a huge shakeup in the company.

We're told that NWA Television champion Zicky Dice has requested his release from the National Wrestling Alliance and although not yet official, it's been granted. NWA had sent an email out to talent in stating that they didn't want any talent with the company that didn't believe in the vision moving forward.

So far we're told that the contract releases don't include any specific instructions outside of a non-disparagement clause. The company has no plans thus far as to whether or not they'll run any events or run any content in the wake of sexual assault allegations against former NWA VP Dave Lagana.

Recently, the NWA also lost another former Television Champion in Ricky Starks, who came out smelling like roses when he appeared for All Elite Wrestling last week. He was offered a contract on the spot following the match and ended up with the company. Dice has noted in our interview with him that he and Starks remain friends and have continued to produce content together.

We reached out to Zicky Dice for comment on the matter, and he replied with "outlandish."

AEW Brawl note

Fightful's Jeremy Lambert has leaned that during last week's pull apart brawl between Hikaru Shida and Penelope Ford, Ricky Starks caught a stray punch and ended up sustaining a swollen eye

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