"The Bad Boy" Joey Janela started out our interview by noting that Marko Stunt was off-screen and hitting him with an F-U on-screen, so that was something. He also suggested a particular pose for us to close the video out with. That's Janela.
Janela will be finishing up on the indies on October 1 when All Elite Wrestling starts television, and says that he wouldn't have it any other way because wrestling full-time and having a contract is something he's always dreamed of. Even though he's limited to doing the previously established Spring Break shows, he joked that he might try to weasel onto another few Game Changer Wrestling shows because of his relationship with that brand. During the interview, Janela admitted there were times he wasn't sure that his career would pay off or that he would make it, but he feels he made the right decision signing with AEW because of the creative freedom they'll allow over a place like WWE.
As far as next year's Spring Break event, Janela reiterated that the venue is already booked, and WWE wouldn't be able to stop them. He went on to joke that nobody cares about Smackdown, and they're going to sell out the 4,000 seat venue while going head-to-head with the brand. The show will be a one-night event again next year, with the decision to make 2019's Spring Break two nights because a lot of the tickets to the small venue sold quick and people still wanted to see it. He also mentioned the budget being bigger for 2020.
I was pretty sure that I'd interviewed Shane Helms for the last time because of his WWE gig, but I had the chance to talk with him earlier this Summer about the job. Helms was a shoe-in for his WWE gig for a lot of the same reasons that we picked him up for Fightful -- versatility. He spoke about his ability to speak "the language of the boys," which certainly is displayed by the fact that 2018 saw him booked to wrestle for AroLucha, WWE, Ring of Honor, and All In, and the year prior, TNA.
He told us he's really enjoying his work thus far, and had been transitioning to do that kind of work for some time anyway, to the point that when he wasn't booked for stuff during his original WWE run, he'd try to find something similar to help out. Of course, he would later refine the skills he's using now in TNA. Hurricane told us that a lot of his job is doing therapy and helping out performers who don't think things are going their way.
Helms spoke with us about his time in TNA and said that creative didn't quite capture what he was making happen and it really affected things. Helms sees managers as instrumental in generating heat for many talents of today that have such a breathtaking style that it makes them difficult to get booed, and said that he wanted.
The Vertebreaker was Helms' signature move, and really helped him get over before it was banned by WWE. A few years back, Seth Rollins used it at a WWE live event, which Helms said that they discussed briefly. The details of banning the move were revealed, as WWE was looking to ban anything that ended in anything resembling a piledriver because people were getting hurt by them.
As we closed, Helms told us that WWE was gracious in allowing him to fulfill his previous obligations when he took his new job. His podcast became a victim of that, as he didn't have as much time to dedicate to it, but it would appear he's hit a more regular schedule with it of late.
I spoke to OWE VP Michael Nee, who broke down how the company ended up coming to Toronto, and making the All Elite Wrestling partnership happen. Journalist James Snelgrove was credited with helping put pieces in place to make Toronto a reality. Snelgrove was actually on the call with us as well, and was instrumental in arranging the interview.
Nee really put over Fightful alumni turned AEW VP Chris Harrington, as well as Christopher Daniels and SCU. He said that SCU was really giving and generous during their time in China visiting with the OWE talent. Overall, it sounds like OWE is very happy with the All Elite Wrestling partnership, and not so happy about the visa issues they've experienced accordingly.
Former UFC Champion Cain Velasquez made his pro wrestling debut last weekend, and we're told that he was very easy to deal with, both among talent and for the company. There were several within WWE who were also watching the show and will be paying attention to how his next two matches go.
Earlier this year, we'd reported that Eminem was tentatively slated to participate in WWE 2K20, and now we've learned some details about that deal falling apart.
In the hours following the report, Pro Wrestling Sheet's Ryan Satin heard from Eminem rep Dennis Dennehy, who admitted there was a meeting between two unnamed third parties, but that it wouldn't be happening. Dennehy also reached out to Fightful to set up a call about the story, but didn't follow up. Weeks and months later, Fightful would follow up again, but got bounceback e-mails when reaching out to Dennehy via his Universal email.
As it turns out, Dennehy left his job as Executive VP and head of publicity at Interscope in May to accept a role at AEG. While still serving as a rep for Eminem, we heard several notes regarding the ill-fated Eminem/WWE 2K20 deal in the wake of Dennehy leaving.
Very few, if any in WWE were aware of the situation as it was being brokered between Universal reps and 2K reps. Prior to this, the idea of Eminem contributing to other games had been broached, but 2K and Universal came to an agreement in the hours before Fightful reported the news. It was stressed to us at that point that "came to terms" and "agreed" did not mean "signed."
Upon the news breaking, both Universal and Eminem's reps were caught off guard and upset about the news. Eminem personally didn't even know of the agreement that was reached as of yet, and neither did most in WWE, which led to much finger pointing as it relates to the situation. The deal fell apart accordingly, despite efforts being made by many to calm the situation and the nature of the pro wrestling news cycle.
We should note that outside of Dennehy reaching out to Fightful originally to set up a phone call, nobody from Universal Media Group reached out to us in an official capacity despite an internal investigation on the news breaking, and WWE did not respond to our request for comment. 2K did respond, stating "Soundtracks and projects are constantly in development at 2K, but an agreement has not yet been finalized with any artist for our impending slate of games."