We ran a great feature on Celeste Bonin, formerly known in the WWE as Kaitlyn on Monday that sort of got hidden due to the crazy Enzo Amore news. Celeste opens up to Denny Burkholder on her battles with addiction, her first WWE run, why she left, how she got her spot and more. She's back in wrestling school ahead of a February independent date because she never really got training in the basics. Instead, she was brought up to the main roster and had to learn on the fly.
The timing of the article was kind of a two-for-one. She has the independent date and is a former champion in WWE, so it's a story anyway, but with the first ever women's Royal Rumble taking place this Sunday it also made sense to have the story publish the week before. She claimed to not know when the Royal Rumble even was, and we don't have any indication that she'll be a part of it, but the timing of it all seemed like too much of a coincidence to not make the effort to have it out before.
The timing was a bit of a double-edged sword as well. Unfortunately, the Enzo Amore situation unfolded in the moments after the Celeste Bonin feature was rolled out. If you all haven't caught the trend on past features that myself others do, usually I'll put them at the beginning of the week to capitalize off of end of weekend or WWE Raw anticipation traffic.
Myself and my wife met Celeste during the Arnold Sports Festival and she couldn't have been nicer. I couldn't say the same for her husband at the time.
I would expect to see multiple familiar faces in the Women's Royal Rumble on Sunday.
The Enzo Amore situation exploded this week, with WWE acting swiftly and suspending, then firing the Cruiserweight Champion after accusations of rape were levied against him. I spoke to the accuser in a lengthy article on Fightful Monday afternoon and avoided editorializing on it. I raised many questions, concerns and holes in her story, and she gave me answers that matched up on all accounts about whereabouts and time.
The irony of the situation is, she wasn't star struck by Enzo Amore, she was more of a fan of the blogger TooPoor, who she later accused of having a hand in the rape as an accomplice. To be honest, after hearing her, I didn't doubt that she at the very least spent time around Enzo Amore. As far as the accusations of rape go -- that's not my place to decide one way or another.
I immediately reached out to WWE and the Phoenix PD, in addition to the two people accused of serving as accomplices and Amore. Only WWE and MissGucciWitch got back to me. I know she'd also been contacted by TMZ and WrestlingNews.co, but I don't think she was aware of the gravity of the situation from a media standpoint. At one point, she asked me if I'd forward all of the articles about her to her, which there was no way I could.
WWE wasn't aware of the situation whatsoever until Fightful reached out to their PR team to gain a comment. This was treated much differently than the Roman Reigns situation. Both accusers had their characters questioned, but in the case of Enzo Amore, he was confirmed to be in the area at the time the attack was alleged to have happened. The character questions didn't slow down, as people picked apart all of the positives and negatives about both Enzo and Philomena, as well as their friends who eventually got involved in the situation.
As we exclusively reported this week, Enzo was fired because he was well aware of the ongoing investigation and didn't bother clueing WWE in. His firing was in large part due to his lack of professional courtesy -- especially given his place in the company. I was told that many kept their distance from Enzo at Monday Night Raw.
One person I spoke to in WWE said that talk backstage was that Enzo continually is putting himself in poor situations and even if he's not guilty, it's a culmination of that.
Triple H Media Call - Jessamyn Duke comments
The customary Triple H NXT media call got kicked off about a half hour late this week and he didn't answer as many questions as usual. Media was instructed ahead of time to keep questions NXT, Takeover or Performance Center related. Despite the fact that WWE is very selective of who gets on these calls, it was probably a good idea to reiterate it.
Triple H commented on Jessamyn Duke, one of Ronda Rousey's Four Horsewomen, who got into pro wrestling training last year. I actually met Jessamyn Duke in 2011-2012 when a coach of mine fought on the same card as her. I arranged to have a couple of fighters and myself train with her and her team for their fights shortly after, and would occasionally mention to her that she'd be a great fit for pro wrestling. I especially thought that before, since there were almost no women of her physical stature with a good athletic background involved. That has since changed with Charlotte, but so has the landscape of wrestling and the integration of MMA into it.
I was far from the only person to tell Duke that pro wrestling would be a good fit. She often served as a "throwing dummy" for NXT Title Challenger Shayna Baszler. Adam Cole mentioned in an interview with me that he offered to train Duke. A former coach of hers in Josh Barnett also encouraged her to make the transition as well. By all indications, she's done well thus far.
Maybe my hope for Kentucky to have some great representation in some of the top companies could be fulfilled. It's looking promising with Duke, Chuck Taylor, Ricochet. In the past we've had Hillbilly Jim and Eugene. Not the strongest.