Joe Hendry/ Chael Sonnen
Hendry only got into amateur wrestling at 27 -- which is insanely late in life, all things considered. He saw the shallow depth at heavyweight and decided to compete there at the urging of UFC legend Chael Sonnen. When Hendry got matched up with then-UFC Champion Robert Whittaker in a bracket, Sonnen actually wrote his promo for him, which Hendry ended up using. Hendry allowed Sonnen to release a t-shirt through his brand in exchange for some advice and mentorship, which Hendry said continued even while Sonnen was going through some terrible personal problems. Hendry put over Sonnen in a pro wrestling capacity, and said he wants Sonnen in Ring of Honor, and actually pitched for him to come in to ICW back in the day, but he was in Global Force Wrestling.
Although Deonna Purrazzo has joined Impact Wrestling, she has not signed a contract with the promotion. As of now, she's working on a per-appearance basis to see how things work out. She worked the Nashville tapings last week, and said things went well. Her no-compete with WWE expired on Friday, May 22. Many expected it to be done on May 15, but she was given the other date by WWE "to be safe," whatever that means.
Even though the finals don't happen for several weeks, WWE did film the Intercontinental Title tournament finals on the May 26 tapings between AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan. We're told that the match was "unbelievable" and legitimately pumped up a very tired NXT PC crowd that was there to cheer.
Velveteen Dream vs. Adam Cole
The plans last week called for Velveteen Dream vs. Adam Cole for In Your House to be filmed Thursday night. WWE PC talent were informed they needed to arrive on the set behind Full Sail University for a 7 PM call time, and that a ring would be set up and surrounded by cars. However, hours into the planned shoot it hadn't even started due to a stretch of rain that hit Orlando all week long.
WWE Callups & Matt Riddle
As you may know Matt Riddle has finished up with NXT, and is planned to start on WWE Smackdown soon. Don't expect to see him in the ring over the next two weeks, if the tapings were any indication. Riddle did not perform on the actual Smackdown tapings or appear in front of the PC crowd.
There are more call-ups planned for WWE than even the Matt Riddle and Dominik Dijakovic that Fightful has heard of. NXT talent were told of some additional plans last week around the time TV filmed.
In regards to the WWE tapings and the audience last week, they were told that they'd be put in air conditioned tents, but as it turns out neither the male or female tents were. Monday wasn't as much of an issue, but many were dreading Tuesday as temperatures were about to pick up, coupled with the mugginess from the rain that hit Orlando all week long. The tents also didn't have floors or a surface at the bottom, so the talent were on wet pavement for the first day.
NXT talent were not permitted to drive to the WWE Performance Center for the audience spot, and were instead bussed there and driven back after the all-day tapings. The instructions given told the talent to arrive for offsite testing at 10 AM est, and were bussed at 11 AM. The talent were scheduled to be bussed back at 10 PM after the shows.
When we reached out to some higher ups in NXT and WWE, they shared the sentiment that with a lot of these names not actively training because of the current situation, it was a good way to get additional value out of the talent while they were being paid. Talent that we heard from said the situation was a fun one, but exhausting due to the long runtime. The lack of chairs and seating during the tapings was constantly brought up.
WWE taped the 5/25 and 5/29 episodes of WWE Raw and Smackdown on Monday, in addition to Main Event and 205 Live. The Raw taping was earlier in the afternoon, with Smackdown taking place that evening. The June 1 & June 5 WWE tapings took place on Tuesday.
- The tapings Monday ran over schedule, but the audience members were still all back on time Tuesday morning.
- The offsite location to meet up at for many was Full Sail University, where then many were bussed to the Performance Center.
- Tuesday's tapings started with Main Event, then Raw at 2 PM EST, followed by Smackdown.
One of our more sought out interviews from Winston-Salem was NWO Sting's Jeff Famer. I'm hoping we get a more advanced notice opportunity. Scott Norton was next to him and put over his personal character and impact heavily. Farmer said that Eric Bischoff had the idea of NWO Sting and approached him with the idea, and said that if the info leaked, it wasn't going to happen. They used prosthetics and contact lenses, but the lenses became problematic because he couldn't see when he was wrestling in them. Farmer was down to do anything WCW asked him with it.
He originally thought he'd land in WWF with the Thunder & Lightning gimmick with Clark Haynes, and called it a special run in his career that meant a lot to him. He was hopeful that he'd have a more extended, top level run with the actual Sting, but that didn't end up happening. He was very proud of his time in Japan, where he spent over five years and worked with Norton, but he never ended up relocating despite over 400 dates there.
Farmer got a call from Joey Janela, who he put over big time. He said that after appearing at Janela's Spring Break, that he ended up getting more calls and requests to do shows. However, he's more focused on working in Miami.