In a recent interview with Shane Taylor, he revealed to me that his Ring of Honor contract is up at the end of the year. He said that while he feels a sense of loyalty to Ring of Honor for giving him his opportunity before anyone else does, but admitted that he would evaluate offers and see where things stand as it pertains to him, his finances and his family when his deal is up. He also made it clear that he could see himself staying with Ring of Honor for years.
I spoke to him briefly about Keith Lee signing with WWE, but I didn't get a sense that they stayed in regular contact, because he gave a generic answer that I'm sure he's given in every interview he's had to do since the news dropped.
I talked to Tessa Blanchard recently, who cleared the air about her contract status with Impact. As of then -- which was before that week's set of tapings -- she'd not signed a contract with Impact Wrestling and was in the middle of negotiations. Blanchard was brought into Impact Wrestling with a pretty big push despite that.
She's among one of the better crops of female mainstream free agent talent in a long time, with her, Chelsea Green and Deonna Purrazzo all available until Deonna got snatched up recently.. I know that Kiera Hogan's contract was also set to expire this month, but she really wants to remain with Impact Wrestling. Ironically, a video of a 16-year old Kiera putting over the Knockouts division years ago emerged online last week as well.
With the Mae Young Classic taking place this summer, MLW signing up a lot of talent, and WWE gaining huge amounts of money, I don't expect the non-contracted talent pool to be so deep next year.
KM & Josh Mathews talk Colby Covington.
New UFC Interim Welterweight Champion Colby Covington is no stranger to Fightful.com -- James Lynch has interviewed him several times for the site, but he's no stranger to Impact Wrestling either. Covington was a featured character as a part of the American Top Team. I spoke to a couple of names from Impact lately about Covington and the possibility of him returning to the company.
Josh Mathews said that when Covington appeared in Impact last year and wanted to create a series of videos to help get Tyron Woodley mad, and that Covington's team was very easy to deal with when he was around. Impact just let Colby Covington be himself, and Mathews said that he stood out and thinks that UFC needs more guys like Colby Covington who are larger than life characters.
KM told me that he still talks to Covington regularly, and had even spoke to him the same day we spoke. He was integral in Colby Covington's independent appearance recently where Covington faced a guy named "Tyron Nyquil," a shot at Woodley. KM said that Covington is a huge pro wrestling fan and wants to make the transition fully when he's done with his mixed martial arts career, and has said that he wants to come back to Impact in the future.
I briefly spoke to "Hurricane" Shane Helms about his debut with Ring of Honor Wrestling, which he seemed pretty proud of. He also seemed proud of the idea that he'd been able to work for WWE, WCW, Ring of Honor and TNA throughout his career. He's also gained a lot of positive feedback about his appearance on Being the Elite.
WWE and Ronda Rousey played the contents of her WWE Money in the Bank match very close to the vest. Hardly anyone knew how the match would be laid out, whether or not it'd be a 15 second domination or a 15 minute match. Needless to say Vince McMahon and other higher ups were ecstatic about her performance in the match, and much of the same for Nia Jax. WWE put a lot of faith in Nia considering her experience level to help lead things. As far as Rousey backstage, she's maintained the positive reputation that she carried with her and made during her initial impressions. I've been told she's been nothing but pleasant to work with.
It should come as no surprise at this point that the main event of Monday's show was produced by Tyson Kidd, real name TJ Wilson. The match was an Intercontinental Championship rematch that saw Seth Rollins looking to regain his title against new champion Dolph Ziggler. The match received high marks by our own ratings system, as is often the case with Seth Rollins matches in general, but certainly seem to be the trend when Kidd is assigned to them.
Tag team great Michael "PS" Hayes helped put together the opening match of the evening, which saw the Revival take down the "superteam" of Bobby Lashley and Roman Reigns. The barely existing match between Matt Hardy and Curtis Axel was assigned to D-Von Dudley, and Scott Armstrong was given producer duties for the Authors Of Pain's match.
WCW veteran Fit Finlay and Sarah Stock split the women's matches, with Finlay getting Natalya vs. Alexa Bliss, and Stock taking care of the six-woman tag match. While there wasn't actually a Mojo Rawley vs. No Way Jose match, Dean Malenko was listed as the producer for the segment. To round things out, Jamie Noble was given the Braun Strowman and Kevin Owens vs. Constable Corbin and Finn Balor match.
Raw & SD Production notes
- Braun Strowman's entrance was noted *with* Money in the Bank briefcase
- The title of WWE Raw was "The Matchmaker" because of Kurt's tag team matchups. Smackdown's was titled "Artistic Liberty."
- Nakamura had already been factored out of the Smackdown script by Tuesday afternoon.
- The production script telegraphed the returns of both Alicia Fox & Authors of Pain, but not Kane.
- Non-Title matches are referred to as "title free" matches on the scripts.
- For some reason, Kurt Angle's first live shot backstage with Sasha Banks was referred to as "happy talk.