Shawn Michaels was in a heated debate at NXT Takeover In Your House ahead of the show. Michaels was discussing the current social climate with another producer, when said producer mentioned that everyone already gets treated the same. This didn't sit well with Michaels, we're told, who broke down systematic prejudice and inequality to the person in a very heated discussion. Word of the argument only made its way back among multiple wrestlers the following day, and Michaels was said to be a "professional" and worked with the person even after the argument went down.
Several that we've spoke to within AEW have spoken highly of Big Swole of late. Both her performances in the crowd at AEW Double or Nothing and her match with Nyla Rose were mentioned, with one top star noting that she excelled at maximizing the minutes she gets on TV.
Despite Tessa Blanchard being advertised for Slammiversary in a 5-way match, Fightful Select have been told that things haven't been smooth sailing between her and IMPACT of late. Blanchard was asked to send in promos for the recent set of tapings, but Fightful was told that just didn't happen, and to "not be surprised" if things didn't progress past that. Blanchard has been stuck in Mexico due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
For the record, Fightful did hear about the rumors that Vince Russo was working as a secret consultant with Impact Wrestling again, but this was vehemently denied by several within Impact. One name even said that they would quit if that were the case, and Vince Russo has publicly expressed his disinterest in returning to wrestling. Many talent have been asked about the rumors repeatedly, and many are exhausted by the rumors. The word that we got is that Impact wanted to book Russo for the WrestleMania weekend show, which Vince Russo confirmed to us.
When we reached out to Vince, he said "Yes---Scott D'amore invited me. I gave them a figure. Then the Pandemic hit. We hadn't even agreed to a deal yet---and NO CREATIVE was EVER discussed."
Fightful has spoken to a dozen wrestlers about Paul Heyman's replacement in his spot on WWE Raw as it was revealed Bruce Prichard would be heading up that branch, too. We've heard from a variety of performers both in and out of WWE, with responses landing all over the map. General disappointment and surprise from some, to others indicating they could see the writing on the wall of late. It should be noted that nobody we've talked to said that they knew of the change before WWE announced it on Twitter.
We were told numerous stars that Paul Heyman was instrumental in promoting along the way during his Executive Director role. Drew McIntyre was the primary name, who was said to have been groomed long before his Rumble win and protected for his main roster push.
Humberto Carrillo and Angel Garza were two talent that Heyman believed in, and was integral in moving Carrillo from his feud with AJ Styles over to working with other lucha competitors. It was said that Vince McMahon didn't know much about Angel Garza upon his arrival, outside of him being Humberto Carrillo's cousin.
Heyman was said to have specifically wanted to build the Raw brand around future stars. There was a lighthearted joke backstage that Raw was built around the "catering crew" instead of the "Smackdown Six" this time, because AOP, Zelina, Andrade, Humberto Carrillo, Aleister Black, Andrade and Buddy Murphy were all relegated to Smackdown catering areas the year before and were hardly used on WWE TV. Specifically, we're told Heyman pushed to get Buddy Murphy on Raw, and was willing to pass on star power to get him. Apollo Crews was later added to that list.
On the other hand, Ricochet and Cedric Alexander were talents that Heyman wanted to continue trying with, but Vince McMahon had pulled the plug on their pushes. Street Profits and Liv Morgan were also people that he fought for.
Younger wrestlers we've spoken to were particularly disappointed, as Heyman was well known for wanting new blood on his shows.
In a follow up, none of the wrestlers or staff we've spoken to has heard blatantly why the replacement was made, but have heard that it was Vince McMahon's decision. We actually had wrestlers inquiring and speculating alike, stating that "there's always a scapegoat" when things go wrong. However, none of those we spoke to could point to a blow up, argument or any particular situation that unfolded that was the catalyst for the move. If there was one, it hasn't made the rounds backstage yet.
The reactions to Paul Heyman and WWE kept rolling in this week. One said that he was open to hearing ideas and pitches, and talking storylines, even during the wee hours of the night, and said that if that's how he was with everyone else, there's a good chance he was overwhelmed. Unfortunately, most of what Heyman would want to happen wouldn't be executed, though the blame wasn't pointed at him. It was still said that working with him could be tough in that regard, and that eventually that job "gets to everyone."
Another top name told us that they'd checked on Paul, but had initially received radio silence back in the hours that followed. In the early morning following the move, several wrestlers noted to us that they'd heard back. They said that backstage, Paul was always "cool as a cucumber," but that doesn't always reflect the stresses of the job he had.
A third wrestler had mentioned that Heyman was blunt, and they were personally disappointed to see Heyman out of the role as they maintained a good relationship.
You may have heard Andrew Zarian of Mat Men Radio say on his show recently that Paul Heyman and AJ Styles had creative differences that led to Styles being "traded" to the Smackdown side. Dave Meltzer noted that it was due to issues with Paul Heyman, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson and their fates.
When asking around about what those differences could have been, at least two on the Raw side of things believe that it stemmed from Heyman not seeing the value in Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows that Styles saw, which could have led to Anderson and Gallows being on the chopping block and released. AJ was said to have been very upset by their firings, which isn't much of a surprise, but particularly considering his somber reaction when speaking about it a few weeks later. The word "furious" was used by multiple wrestlers. Styles only worked one Raw match after their firing.
It might be a while before we get to see Edge again.
After murmurs of an injury made its way through wrestling media on Sunday, Fightful was able to confirm with several in the company that Edge had sustained a triceps injury. The word emerging from backstage was that Edge suffered a torn triceps, which WWE later confirmed.
Triple H Meeting
Fortunately, multiple people at the NXT post-show talent meeting were willing to "snitch to the dirt sheets" and gave us some supplemental information. While Triple H did note that he was willing to have conversations with talent, we're told that he mentioned that this is an important time in the world, and he was proud of his talent for standing up. Triple H was said to have been emotional, and said that he wants everyone to matter in WWE and NXT, regardless of race, religion, orientation, language, and culture and wants their talent to set an example for the rest of the world.
As you may have seen on Karl Anderson's twitter, he and Gallows are planning on putting on a TalknShopaMania show that will air on August 1. We've heard that they've reached out to some that will participate in the show, which is currently slated to include wrestling and variety aspects to it. We're told the planned filming is late June or July in Atlanta. We're not told who will be involved yet or any additional details.
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