I spoke to Lyoto Machida about his time at the New Japan Pro Wrestling dojo, specifically him living with Daniel Bryan and Shinsuke Nakamura. He said that he was very grateful for the opportunity and the connections that he made there, even though he hasn't exactly kept in touch with those guys. He seemed very happy about the successes of Nakamura and Bryan both. There was a recollection of seeing Bryan on television with a beard and not recognizing him at first because of the stark contrast of his appearance from 2003.
Machida also talked about the fact that Simon Inoki wanted to push and promote both himself and Nakamura as huge stars, but in differing sports. This led to many people assuming there was bad blood between the two, which Machida downplayed. On the subject of Inokis, Simon's father, Antonio, gave Machida a pretty famous slap to the face after his first ever MMA fight in 2003. Machida said the slap is fabled to be a sign of luck for your career, after Inoki slapped a young man who went on to have great success.
Despite training at the NJPW Dojo, Machida never got any outside pro wrestling offers.
I spoke to MLW's Mance Warner recently, and he primarily stayed in character for it. Usually those are a waste of time, but Warner is one of those rare exceptions in the same light of a Silas Young where it works. He's a very charismatic guy, and it shines through in any interview he does. He spoke about MLW, and forming a team with Sami Callihan, but again, all in character.
Dustin Thomas, better known as "No Legs," briefly was interviewed by Andrew Thompson around his AEW appearance. He seemed blown away by the fact that his popularity and wrestling career exploded so quickly, and told us his goal was to show that sports entertainment is for everyone. Thomas also mentioned to Thompson that Kenny Omega was among his dream matches.
Bellator fighter and boxing standout Heather Hardy elaborated on news she gave us last year that WWE Hall of Famer Johnny Rodz had made a couple of attempts to lure her to pro wrestling. She told us they were very playful in nature, and that she was never interested in making it happen because she was more interested in fighting than money. She's also never received any offers to move to pro wrestling, and joked that her managers probably couldn't handle dealing with another promoter. Johnny Rodz was put over as a good guy, and she said if she knocked on his door, she'd end up training with him after half of a conversation.
One of the more pleasant interviews I've ever done was with WOW Women of Wrestling and Title Match Wrestling's Barbi Hayden. She talked to me about the process of her WWE tryouts, and said that she's had about three of them, and has worked on the input she received as a result each time. Despite her constant appearances and tryouts with WWE, she seems more focused on her work with WOW and Flagged Sports as an interviewer, wrestler and announcer than she does trying to get herself a gig with WWE. She also interviewed me for Title Match Wrestling's Youtube channel.
She put over Title Match Wrestling and told us she was actually in tears of joy both when WOW got picked up on AXS and was renewed for the second season.
- The heat was so bad in Saudi Arabia that talent and employees were being handed out Hydration Salt drinks, which we're told tasted terrible. The conditions were said to have been "borderline unworkable" for some talent.
- A condition of Bill Goldberg's appearance in Saudi Arabia was that his wife and son both be flown over.
- One wrestler said that all of the wrestlers watching Goldberg vs. The Undertaker in the back were either afraid or laughing at the spectacle, and called Goldberg's decision to crack his head before the match "dumb."
- Vince McMahon was indeed in Saudi Arabia, and has been every single event that WWE has promoted in Saudi Arabia to help further the perception that the events are important to WWE.
- The final decision to not have women featured on Super Showdown came down to the wire for this event, and talks were going on all day of the show itself until pretty much when the event finally started.
- Talent was taken right to the chartered plane to leave Saudi Arabia following the event.
Bellator Champion Darrion Caldwell tells me that he was never recruited by WWE or any pro wrestling companies, despite his amateur wrestling background, but that he'd love to participate in some pro wrestling in the future. He pointed to his athleticism as a big tool that would help him out, specifically his acrobatics.
Andrew Thompson of Fightful was nice enough to introduce me to Nick Gage after their interview, in which Gage opened up about his controversial match with David Arquette. Gage said that Arquette gained a little bit of respect for doing the match, but that the former WCW Champion "bugged out" and isn't a pro wrestler, much less a death match wrestler. Gage didn't hold any ill will from the situation.
Gage put over independent wrestling's boom, and says that it's his passion. He also spoke very highly of Young Bucks and Cody along the way.
- Lucha House Party received a lot of praise internally for their performances during the Lars Sullivan match on WWE Raw. They were put in a position seen as unenviable by most considering the booking, and were said to have went above and beyond to make the best of it and help out Sullivan along the way. Meanwhile, some backstage have said they aren't thrilled with their booking.
- WWE has not had a favorable reaction to stars that pitch storylines under the guise that current programming isn't good, meaning that stories pitched that insinuate incompetence on behalf of WWE are looked down upon and pretty quickly dismissed.