Update On WWE-COVID Situation
Fightful gained information earlier this week about another outbreak on WWE property, as a spread stemmed from the WWE Performance Center a couple of weeks ago. Fightful has learned that trainees were spending four days a week training, with testing at least weekly. Talent are to be tested before any show they appear on.
Wednesday's tapings saw huge changes. A large number of the roster was kept off the show taping, and several extras that were intended for the crowd were either sent home or had to end up working the battle royal. The crowd was very limited for the show as a result. WWE have been training at a makeshift Performance Center while the original one is renovated.
Fightful was told that the Clash of Champions card was affected by the COVID outbreak not just across WWE, but pro wrestling in general. Nikki Cross' absence is one WWE have been planning for since earlier in the week. We have heard that there's a lot of frustration within WWE over the changes.
Two wrestlers that we spoke to were particularly frustrated with WWE's training methods that left many susceptible to exposure.
We'd reported last week that several of the NXT call-ups were finally being spoken to about new WWE contracts. This was in line with what they were told when they were brought up -- that the times were uncertain and eventually they'd negotiate new main roster deals. As mentioned, the money wasn't quite up there with what a lot of wrestlers were being offered to re-sign last year, but WWE has told several of those involved that they're open to re-negotiating after WrestleMania season next year.
NWA and Zicky Dice
NWA seemed to change their mind on a name who was well on his way out of the company. Earlier this year, NWA told roster members that if they didn't believe in the company's vision, they'd be able to gain their releases. Zicky Dice asked for his release, but was informed recently that NWA has exercised his roll-over. As of now, Zicky Dice is still the NWA TV Champion, and is contracted through the end of 2020.
Things worked out a lot better for another NWA name, than Zicky Dice. Although Zicky Dice wasn't granted his release, Fightful has learned that former NWA World Tag Team Champion Royce Isaacs asked for and was granted his release from the National Wrestling Alliance, but as it turns out it was after his deal had expired. NWA could have chosen to roll over the contract, the same as Dice's, but didn't do that. Those we spoke to said Isaacs was well liked within NWA and trusted in a variety of spots on the card, but that NWA contracts were for "relatively no money." Several we spoke to with knowledge of the situation said he'd be better off just not being under contract in the event an opportunity arises.
WWE And Retribution
Fightful heard from several wrestlers following the "unveiling" of Retribution on the September 21 episode of WWE Raw.
The feelings from the four WWE talent we spoke to echoed the critical and immediate sentiments that were uncorked on the group and more specifically, WWE's creative process.
One female wrestler on Raw said "I feel bad for Mia (Yim) and Mercedes (Martinez). It's a good spot, but they've worked so long and are facing a battle to not make this look as dumb as it is."
A Smackdown talent mentioned being curious as to how their show has been largely untouched by so much of the hastily made changes that Raw has experienced of late. The wrestler speculated "I think they load up Raw with that stuff because it's a longer show, but we weren't told why Retribution was off Smackdown."
Those that we've spoken to said that they weren't informed of any long term plans for Retribution from the jump, and much of it felt hastily thrown together even from the backstage perspective.
Absolutely everyone we heard back from said that they thought the names given to Retribution were ridiculous.
"It sounds like something out of a bad movie or game, but I'm not sure Vince plays games or watches movies anymore," a top wrestler said.
Parking Lot Brawl
The Best Friends vs. Santana & Ortiz Parking Lot Brawl gained positive reactions among fans and critics, but also among wrestlers backstage in All Elite Wrestling. We've heard that several wrestlers went out of their way to watch the match in person, even off-camera. There were certain talent and personalities who were set to appear in the "audience" for the fight, but several others made sure to watch from a distance, even if they weren't asked to be there.
MLW has been a hot topic over the last week, as they're about to resume their tapings. We mentioned that several wrestlers who had contract disputes will still be there, but we're also working to find out details on the new MLW contracts being offered. For some reason, the language in many MLW contracts didn't prohibit their wrestlers from wrestling in AEW, simply because it didn't exist at the time they signed. Many other companies outright prohibit wrestlers from appearing on North American televised wrestling shows. We're told that some people were offered new contracts earlier this year that would have changed that, but one ended up passing on the deal before it even got to them.
In case you were wondering, there was absolutely no plan to have Victoria return or appear at the 2020 WWE Royal Rumble. An image of her Titantron leaked online and made people believe that she'd be showing up. Victoria told us that she first heard about this online, and had never actually been contacted to make an appearance. She's not usually in touch with WWE about anything, and joked that she gets 25 dollar royalty checks from DVDs here and there.
As far as a potential return, she said that she retired on the spot in September 2019 because her body was just feeling rough. She wouldn't be opposed to doing a one-off for WWE or IMPACT Wrestling, but doesn't want it to be a quick spot and wants to "get her shit in" and do something substantial. It wouldn't be worth her time to just show up in the background. However, she did note that she would love to help out whether it be as an agent, or helping create, or training, but that she'd need to get herself back in ring shape to even do it justice.
We also spoke of her TNA run. She returned to WWE a month prior basically just so she could dance next to Kid Rock, and Sunny tried to stay close to her in the battle royal to "stay safe" from all the people mad at her. She didn't plan on going to TNA after leaving, but was given an offer and only 3 days to make a decision. Instead of Tara, she wanted to use her real name of Lisa Marie Varon. It was agreed to, but when she showed up, it was Tara.
She holds no ill will towards IMPACT Wrestling now that there have been so many regime changes, even after she once said that she'd probably never go back to TNA.