Fightful's next edition of Wikipedia Fact Check will drop this weekend and features former World Heavyweight Champion Jack Swagger. I actually conducted the interview last year when we were filming long-term segments for The List And Ya Boy Podcast. We talk about his high school wrestling run, NCAA eligibility, him telling a new job he couldn't come in because of WWE obligations and a ton of other stuff. This was shortly before he announced that he'd signed with Bellator MMA. You can check out an article from our original interview with Jack at this link. Other guests we have planned for this season include Frankie Kazarian, Bellator's Michael McDonald, UFC vet Gerald Harris and Impact's Sonjay Dutt.
For the List and Ya Boy the weeks ahead of WrestleMania, I'll have a few guests that will be promoting their own shows during the weekend. Thus far we've lined up Luke Hawkx, Joey Janela, and permitting our schedules match up, Matt Riddle. In addition to this, we have several Fightful Alternate Commentary shows lined up for WrestleMania season. The matches are Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior from WrestleMania 6, the WWF Hardcore Battle Royal from WrestleMania 2000, and the Raven vs. Big Show vs. Kane Hardcore title match from Wrestlemania 17. I'll be joined by Anna Bauert for those shows.
I do my best to not report storyline news because the risk vs. the reward isn't generally worth it. I know that there's the cliche of "plans change," but they do. Often. If one guy doesn't like the direction of things, he adjusts and changes the direction to his liking. That being said, I'm told that several of the 'rumored' WrestleMania matches (as I write this Monday afternoon) aren't coming to fruition, and among those involve Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.
One wrestler that I talked to say that the departure of Austin Aries and later Neville after being put on the WrestleMania pre-show weighs on them now because of the lack of royalties associated with that spot considering WWE doesn't include the pre-show matches on the DVD release of the show. Neville and Aries were the first to make a public 'fuss' about it, and with the show being so long and the roster being so big, it's going to affect a lot of talent. Last year Braun Strowman, Dean Ambrose, Sami Zayn and other bigger names were also put on the pre-show, but this year it's a topic being discussed more both behind the scenes and on camera.
Much was made about this year's WWE celebrity-wing Hall of Fame induction of Kid Rock. There are always the discussions of "how did this person get in before this person?," among fans, but WWE doesn't generally operate in that manner. They have their standard template -- a living headliner, a deceased wrestler, a woman, an African-American, a tag team, and now the Warrior and Legacy inductees. Generally WWE likes to ensure these first, before moving to something else. When I asked those in the know about why there wasn't a celebrity wing inductee last year, I was told that there was consideration given to doing away with it due to some of the negative reactions to previous inductees.
WWE has no shortage of potential celebrity inductees, but among the most glaring of omissions is pop star Cyndi Lauper. Lauper was a big part of the Rock N' Wrestling era that helped launch WWE to the forefront of the wrestling world. I spoke with someone close to Lauper (I never thought I'd need to pull out my Lauper source), who said that she'd be more than willing to go into the WWE Hall of Fame, and that there isn't any ill will or bad blood that she knows of that would prevent her from being inducted or hint at why she hasn't been in yet.
There is a continued effort to put an emphasis on 205 Live. The tone with those I've spoken to over the last year, whether it be wrestlers, former wrestlers or backstage workers for WWE has always remained the same in that the company wants to produce a good show with intriguing talent.
To WWE's credit, if everyone that they'd planned to have on 205 Live would have stuck around or not got into trouble, they'd still have Neville, Rich Swann, Austin Aries and Enzo Amore. They're also doing without Noam Dar and Brian Kendrick due to injury, which aren't huge losses, but still affect the roster.
I was told that multiple "big name talent" from the WWE main roster have offered to make cameo appearances on the show in an effort to increase the profile of the program, but weren't told of any specific names. A decision was recently made to omit cruiserweights from the WWE Raw show for the time being to help establish 205 Live as more of an individual brand instead of a sub-brand of Raw.
Fabulous Moolah Controversy
I have a report coming up later this morning in regards to several of the WWE wrestlers that I spoke to about the controversy surrounding WWE Hall of Famer Fabulous Moolah. I checked in with nearly every person I had in my contacts about the decision initially and one said they were surprised it made it as far as being announced on TV, and that they thought WWE would just quietly do away with mentioning Moolah. I brought up to that person that Jimmy Snuka had a tribute video ran following his death, and they agreed that it was likely Vince McMahon feeling a bit of a debt to those who helped him early on.
Interestingly enough, another wrestler told me that they know for certain that multiple people communicated to Vince McMahon that the idea wasn't a good one, and there was actually talk at Raw of this, which was magnified at the following night's Smackdown Live event. By the end of Tuesday, the writing was on the wall.