Andrade "Cien" Almas impressed officials, specifically Vince McMahon in recent months with his work with AJ Styles, which directly led to him having a television program with Daniel Bryan. There is already an incredible amount of trust put into Almas, even though he could barely get on television his first couple of months on the main roster.
A source inside WWE told Fightful that sometimes Vince McMahon will just see someone and say "I want them up here," without having any semblance of a plan. Other times, Vince McMahon will be told that a talent could be useful and it might be time for them to move up, but if he isn't 100 percent behind them, they'll have nothing. The same source said that in the case of Almas, he was put in a spot where he wasn't expected to shine the way he did, and it made an impression, and that's typically the way that McMahon ends up taking notice of people who come from NXT.
I had a source tell me that the Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton Hell in a Cell match is largely a favor to Hardy, as he's always wanted to be in that match.
Well, I did 2,500 words on penis druids last week for Fightful. I like to do at least one long-form article per year, and the advent of Fightful Select has restricted my ability to work on the Sean O'Haire article that I'd planned, and the Spike TV retrospective was shelved. Alberto Lara, who played one of the druids, tweeted hate mail he received and it motivated me to reach out to work on a story. After interviewing Alberto and getting the level of detail he provided, I thought it would make sense to contact others.
Very rarely do I contact talent or wrestlers to grab text responses from them for stories, but for this story, that was done exclusively outside of Lara. Shane Helms was very willing to talk about the subject (it's about penises, so there you go), and recounted the experience very well. Jeff Jarrett said he'd let me "wordsmith" the response, but was also very light hearted about it, and I ran the quote unedited. Joel Gertner was another name that made sense to speak to, considering the gimmick he's worked for the better part of 20 years, and also considering that he was in town for All In.
Finally, I was able to get Joey Ryan to comment on the story. I've never interviewed Joey before or spoken to him in virtually any manner, so it was a very cold "Hey, can I get your comment on this penis story," which unsurprisingly seemed very normal to him. He was caught up with a long Major League Wrestling taping, but thankfully hit me with a comment the next day. Thank you to all of those involved.
I also reached out to a couple more names who were involved with All In and Starrcast who wouldn't speak on the record about it, but I got responses from everyone I contacted for the story, for better or for worse.
More and more each week, we've seen members of WWE's cruiserweight show, 205 Live integrated back in to Monday Night Raw.
It started with Drew Gulak helping out during beat downs of the Shield, and continued with 205 Live General Manager Drake Maverick serving as the manager of Authors of Pain. This week, we also witnessed Lio Rush paired with Bobby Lashley as his mouth piece.
Fightful asked several wrestlers and employees backstage about the news, and those within the know said that there was a push to implement more managers on the program in an effort to revive floundering acts. It's not a coincidence that all three cruiserweights to appear on Raw thus far are excellent talkers, and this is a bit of a way to ease those in charge of such decisions back into utilizing managers more prominently if it works out.
Quite often, members of the 205 Live roster are booked for less than a half-dozen dates per month, and this is being seen as an effort to maximize returns on investment in the brand. Past attempts to invest in 205 Live (Neville, Enzo Amore) would end up blowing up in WWE's face, whether it be their fault or someone else's.
Members of the 205 Live roster are not generally flown to WWE Raw tapings these days, although there are some exceptions when WWE has to do pre-tapes, or they are filming a Main Event match.
Raw and Smackdown Notes
We were told that Maryse was instructed to powder out and kill time heading in to Tuesday Night's Smackdown Live show, it wasn't a time killing instruction on the fly. WWE Raw announcers were instructed to refer to Authors of Pain simply as "AOP," and that will be the term for them moving forward, although in some cases (like Apollo Crews), it's quickly switched back.
The title of WWE Smackdown Live this week was "Oui! Oui! Oui!," the French translation of Daniel Bryan's "Yes!" chant.
We posted a new interview with UFC interim Welterweight Champion Colby Covington this week. He told us last month that he planned on going backstage at WWE Raw in Miami and meeting Vince McMahon at the show. I found out that he didn't end up meeting Vince McMahon, but still hopes to, and actually made a positive impression backstage among the wrestlers that he spoke to. Covington has friends in high places in WWE already, and has trained on the same team as Bobby Lashley. He's hoping for a WWE run in the future, which I'll elaborate on more in future editions of the Fightul Wrestling Weekly
I've also spoken to several names in Impact Wrestling that want Covington back in the company after his brief run in a supporting role last year. This was just before his profile exploded, and he still has a very good relationship with the company.
Always remember that our Weekly is covered by our friends over at Pro Wrestling Unlimited on Youtube, as well as on our FightfulSelect.com Weekender podcast!