Austin Aries was made available ahead of his Impact Heavyweight Championship match at Slammiversary. I asked him about differences in regime, as he's been around for three pretty key ones during his times with Impact. He said that admittedly politics have caused him to not see eye-to-eye with Impact/TNA in the past, but this regime is handling things much differently and has positive, forward thinkers in charge. According to Aries the locker room is way different.
Austin also jokingly suggested that Jay Lethal stole his Paparazzi Championship Series bowling trophy that he was awarded by Kevin Nash. He doesn't still have it, but said if he did, he'd proudly display it. If you've never watched the Paparazzi Productions stuff from TNA over a decade ago, it's worth going out of your way to see.
The addition of Fightful Select and all of its content has caused me to push back and reduce long-form features like the ones I did on the NWA, Muhammad Hassan, Brawl For All, Shane Kruchten, the Kentucky Boxing and Wrestling Authority and Gerald Harris, but I am still working on the Sean O'Haire long-form. Thus far I've spoken to Vince Russo, who worked with Sean in WCW, Jeff Jarrett, who traveled with O'Haire, and Bruce Prichard, who was involved with WWE during that run.
I spoke to Johnny Impact recently, who talked about his Boone the Bounty Hunter financing. He sold his house to finance the film and says he's almost gotten back all of the money he put in, and the trajectory that the film is on looks to gain him a pretty positive return, although it takes a long time to get your money from working and paying for a film like that.
An interview I did with Kiera Hogan turned heads this week, and may have brought to the surface some underlying issues she and Ember Moon have. Hogan spoke of the similarities between her look and Ember Moon's since joining the WWE main roster, and several of the parallels the two have in references to fire. Hogan (and others I'd spoken to around the time) remembered pitching the character and mannerisms at a WWE tryout in 2015, before Ember Moon was seen on TV with it. Hogan told me that her heart sank when she saw Moon using the persona on TV, but it wasn't going to keep her from continuing along.
Ember Moon responded on Tuesday afternoon without directly mentioning the story or Hogan, and posted photos from as far back as 2012 where she had red hair.
Hogan said the last time that she talked to WWE she was doing extra work, but the company never followed up with her and she wasn't added to either installment of the Mae Young Classic. She was signed to Impact Wrestling shortly after. Her contract technically expired in June, and Hogan said she's not signed anything to extend the deal, but thinks that her option year simply rolled over, and said she would work for Impact even without a contract.
I spoke to a source at WGN about the decision to air All-In. Some within the company already had expected to run some sort of Ring of Honor programming if the Tribune-Sinclair deal went through. Some at the network soured on wrestling after WWE started hot with Superstars, and pretty quickly watered down and lowered the quality of the show after the debut as WWE often does. According to the source, All-In airing on the network could very well serve as a "trial run" for reintroducing pro wrestling programming down the line.
Mike Rotunda had double duty this week, as the established tag team competitor produced the Bludgeon Brothers squash of 3SK solo, while collaborating with Devon Hughes (D-Von Dudley) to produce the Bar vs. New Day Tag Team Contender Tournament Finals match that main evented.
Michael "PS" Hayes, WWE Hall of Famer, was tasked with producing a Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor advertised dark match main event on Monday, which we got no word if it actually happened. Hayes was also the producer for the Shinsuke Nakamura vs. R-Truth match on Tuesday Night's Smackdown.
TJ Wilson, formerly known as Tyson Kidd, drew the Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch vs. IIconics producer duties, while Dave "Fit" Finlay ended up helping out with the Lana vs. Zelina Vega rematch that involved heavy interference towards the end of it.
While not necessarily known for his promos, Dean Malenko was the producer for the Miz segment that saw Byron Saxton trying to interview him, only to be attacked by longtime rival Daniel Bryan.
Don't look too much into all the backstage names at Smackdown and Raw this week, or even the Mae Young Classic. A lot of wrestlers live in Florida -- specifically Orlando -- and WWE welcomes familiar faces there with open arms.
Smackdown and Raw Notes
The working title for Smackdown Live this week was "Emotional Response," which had a double meaning that referenced Daniel Bryan assaulting The Miz after the latter's promo, and AJ Styles addressing Samoa Joe's comments from last week. The WWE Monday Night Raw title was "Gettin' Rowdy," a play off of "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey's nickname. The title also served as a former theme song title for Smackdown head of creative Road Dogg, and R-Truth who had a much bigger presence than normal on this week's Tuesday show.
Kind of a pointless and funny update, but last week after I mentioned that Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt were referred to individually internally, that was changed to reflect their tag team name of "Deleter of Worlds" this week.
It's been this way for a while, but Dewey Foley is often working as a writer on the road with WWE, which is a step up from the creative assistant job he was brought on to do way back in 2015 or so. For example, he contributed as a road team writer to a couple of backstage shots this week that included The Bar and The Bludgeon Brothers.