If the Fiend/Randy Orton climax at WrestleMania wasn't what you were expecting, you aren't alone. In fact, the talent are among those.
Fightful has learned that the plan as of Friday before WrestleMania was much different. However, it was changed over the weekend to Randy Orton emerging victorious in a different way. There was never a plan in order for a Firefly Funhouse, and beyond that, those associated with the angle were never given an endgame at any point, outside of the fact that it would write Orton off of television for a good period of time. A "surprise" finish was pitched over the weekend, and we're told Bruce Prichard and Vince McMahon were instrumental in the change and the decision making associated.
We were told that management seemed happy with the finish as it played out, but talent we've heard from were exceedingly confused.
Riddle vs. Sheamus
We mentioned the changes to the Fiend vs. Randy Orton match, but that wasn't the only match that had the result changed this weekend. Fightful was informed that originally Riddle was supposed to retain his WWE United States Championship at the show, but it was adjusted in favor of continuing the feud with Sheamus.
A sheet had emerged over the past week with a list of producers from WrestleMania matches, but Owens vs. Zayn was omitted.
Shane Helms didn't just produce one match-- Rollins vs. Cesaro, he also helped out with one on night two, we're told. He and Adam Pearce were credited as producers for another highly regarded match in Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn, which went 9:20 and also featured Logan Paul as a special guest.
WrestleMania Main Event Plans
WrestleMania's night two main event featured an awful lot of story to it, and as is the case with most Reigns-related creative, we're told that Paul Heyman was instrumental in orchestrating it. Even beyond that, we were also informed that Roman Reigns going over was the plan since early on in the angle, though it's not known if that wavered at any point. Many of the plans for WrestleMania were changed in the days leading up to the show, but it doesn't appear as if this was one.
Heyman's involvement is much like what he did with Brock Lesnar, where much of the creative and matches filter through him. Edge and Daniel Bryan also contributed ideas heavily, and it was said to have been a big collaborative effort. The double submission headbutt spot was a Daniel Bryan idea.
Those that we've spoke to said that the match went over well backstage, and to no surprise, Roman Reigns is getting rave reviews for his performances.
The decision to add Daniel Bryan was a discussion for well over a month before it happened, but was only set in stone to some of the talent the week of Fastlane.
In addition, Michael Hayes was the credited producer of the match.
Danhausen is appearing for Ring of Honor while still working independent dates, but according to our interview with him, he's not locked down long term. Danhausen indicated to Fightful that his current ROH deal lasts through the end of the calendar year. Separately of the interview, we'd learned that ROH actually offered Danhausen a deal just ahead of the pandemic in 2020, and the contract was signed. This was shorty after Cody Rhodes had mentioned Danhausen's name in an interview.
Raw After Mania
The WWE Raw after Mania didn't go as planned for fans, or WWE for that matter, and when we asked those in the company we were given some reasons why. Originally, Riddle was not planned to take on Bobby Lashley, but those we spoke to said that there were more wrestlers banged up or not cleared after WrestleMania than normal. Among those, a couple were precautionary due to COVID symptoms, and we were told that the brand was just short-handed in general.
PWInsider reported that Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis had signed with ROH full-time. Maria had noted in the past that they were at least obligated to the company until June. Fightful reached out to Bennett and clarified that they signed entirely new contracts with Ring of Honor, which replaced the original agreement the duo had into June.
WWE has started what appear to be annual April 15 releases today, cutting Mickie James, Billie Kay, Chelsea Green, Kalisto, Tucker, Samoa Joe, Bo Dallas, Mojo Rawley and Wesley Blake.
Of those wrestlers, we've been told that Mickie James had been vocal backstage about her desire to continue wrestling.
Bo Dallas had been backstage at some recent episodes of WWE Smackdown, but we'd been told he'd not figured in to any creative plans whatsoever. He participated in a "practice match" for the setup of WrestleMania the Friday before the show.
We're also told by talent that Samoa Joe had expressed his desire to wrestle of late, but was not cleared by WWE.
Billie Kay was a surprise cut for many backstage, as the talent that Fightful spoke to did not expect that coming. When asked why, they cited the fact that she was used on WWE television as recently as WrestleMania, and was loved in the WWE locker room, as was her former tag team partner Peyton Royce. We're told Kevin Dunn specifically didn't "get" Billie Kay, and had verbalized that he saw a ceiling for her in WWE.
Chelsea Green met with WWE at Smackdown a couple of weeks prior to WrestleMania regarding a post-WrestleMania return to the company. She was not brought to WrestleMania and did not appear on the stage with the rest of the talent.
Word of WWE cuts actually made its way around a couple of months ago. However, we've been told that multiple people among the cuts had inquired about whether or not they were on the chopping block and were told they weren't going to be among them, only to be cut. One wrestler told us "it's just an annual reminder that this is a company, not a family."
Fightful had Chelsea Green's first post-WWE interview, and she dropped a ton of info.
She was originally set for a WWE call-up in 2019, but feels there was a miscommunication between WWE and NXT.
Creative plans had called for she, Vanessa Borne and Santana Garrett to portray a "Pussycat Dolls meets Charlie's Angels" group. Borne had been called up to the WWE main roster in early 2020, and actually still hasn't been used yet. Garrett was called up in Summer 2020, and has only appeared at the WWE Royal Rumble. They met with writers about the idea, but it didn't end up happening.
Green waited for weeks to get a meeting with Vince, often waiting from 1:30 to 5 without getting the chance. When she finally got to meet with him, they spoke for a half hour, he heard out over a dozen of her pitches, and she was on TV a couple of weeks later.
Chelsea confirmed that Paul Heyman was integral in her call-up last year, and put over how much he helped her. After his ousting the widely reported angle involving Mickie James was set to happen, and they even filmed a match that didn't end up airing.
She also confirmed that upon her Smackdown debut, she was going to be named "Victorious," which she was all for, and started thinking off ways to play off the name. She was surprised that she was announced as "Chelsea Green," but was supposed to do a backstage vignette with Billie Kay to reveal the new name.
On breaking her wrist, Green spoke very highly of Tamina taking care of her outside the ring during the match, even noting that she tried to get back in the ring and Tamina wouldn't let her. She credits Tamina for ending up with only a broken wrist, instead of a shattered wrist.
As far as her contract, she actually signed a new NXT deal before she was called up, but wasn't sure she wanted to sign an extension that was offered before her injury. After her injury, she was more than happy to sign the new deal.
Green tells us she was not invited to Smackdown a few weeks ago, and showed up to remind them she was willing and able. She was planning to attend Smackdown after Mania in the same vein, but was not at WrestleMania this year.
Green has already spoken to other companies, and confirmed she has a 90-day non-compete clause. She's hoping to start a podcast, and was offered a movie role last year.
You may have noticed that Diamante has been working as a solo act for over a month in All Elite Wrestling. Fightful inquired about the absence of her partner Ivelisse, and were told that Ivelisse has not been at AEW tapings of late. We reached out to Ivelisse a couple of weeks back, who told us that she is still with All Elite Wrestling. However, talent had informed us prior to that they didn't expect Ivelisse to return to AEW as she had well-known disagreements with agents backstage. We weren't given any context to the nature of the disagreement.
Ivelisse tweeted "History repeats itself unfortunately. I speak up about mistreatment and get let go. That's life." Fightful has reached out to AEW in the past for an official comment on Ivelisse's status, and have reached out to Ivelisse for more context on her tweet.
As far back as March 20, Fightful was told by talent that Ivelisse likely would not remain with the company.
When we reached out to Ivelisse, she said "I spoke up about mistreatment from a Coach, even to other women too, there were witnesses and I was the one suspended and left in limbo and just now let go, and nothing has been done at all the entire time about (Thunder Rosa) slandering my name the entire time in AEW and doing everything to sabotage my position there, I kept quiet, (Thunder Rosa) also has a history of getting involved with officials in order to get ahead which there was a lawsuit and everything in (Lucha Underground)."
Ivelisse was said to have been in "limbo" for quite a while, but the official release came last week.