Deonna Purrazzo Contract Update
We repeated earlier this year that Deonna Purrazzo was working on a per-appearance basis with IMPACT Wrestling, before they offered her a long-term contract recently. I spoke to Purrazzo, who confirmed that she does want to remain with IMPACT long-term and made that clear to them. I would expect news on that front to emerge soon.
Purrazzo was a big signing for IMPACT Wrestling this year, and you can thank Madison Rayne for that. Purrazzo told Fightful that Madison Rayne reached out to her to check on her after her NXT release, and has long been one of her biggest supporters. She discussed bringing Purrazzo in, and got her in touch with Scott D'Amore, who made the deal happen.
Fightful heard that things got a little hectic backstage at this week's NXT.
There has been a lot of change, frustration and uncertainty backstage in NXT of late. We've learned that there were several technical difficulties and errors at Wednesdays NXT tapings that led to a series of frustrations among those at the production table backstage. Most in NXT pretty well agree that those in charge are in a rough position due to the stream of injuries this week -- Kyle O'Reilly, Finn Balor and Ridge Holland.
Kyle O'Reilly Update
The update as of Thursday on Kyle O'Reilly is that there really isn't an update. We weren't able to get any real updates from backstage at the NXT tapings, and were only told that they were playing things close to the vest. We reached out to WWE for comment or update on O'Reilly this week and did not get a response.
NXT trainees were set to return to the renovated WWE Performance Center on Thursday, October 8, but many weren't comfortable with returning for obvious reasons. Months prior, NXT talent were told there would be no heat on them if they didn't feel safe coming in and training, but that they might need to "explain it to Vince." We've not heard any instances of that actually happening.
However, NXT trainees in contact with Fightful have expressed their discomfort with training, with multiple citing the number of "COVID truthers" on the NXT roster that just don't take the situation seriously.
We've spent the last week asking AEW talent if they believe Harold Meij's ousting would lead to a partnership between AEW and New Japan Pro Wrestling, and got some interesting responses.
Those who haven't worked in Japan much said that they haven't heard a ton of talk about the move and it wasn't a primary concern for them anyway. We did hear the same talking point that almost everyone knows there were some hurt feelings on both sides of the NJPW split with many of the talent who left for AEW.
"It definitely won't hurt things," one top talent told Fightful. "Most people here are still in touch with the people over there and Meij had alienated a lot of the English-speakers they had on the roster. There wasn't a lot of belief in him to begin with, but the way he handled that wasn't good. Tony (Khan) has done his best to keep it amicable."
We followed up with other talent about Khan's efforts to remain amicable.
"A lot of the deals are set up to allow people to work there. He could avoid that if he wanted. I think that's a pretty clear sign whether he says it or not that he wants to. I don't know if he had a personal relationship with Harold, but I did, and I didn't want to do business with Harold anymore," said a former NJPW star.
Even one person on the current NJPW roster told us they were hopeful for a relationship to develop because "it would mean more money for New Japan, AEW and the wrestlers," but said that due to New Japan's expansion into the States, it might throw a hiccup into the possibility.
AEW Extra Work
We've mentioned in the past how AEW's extra work for dark has been a collaborative effort. Britt Baker has been widely credited for speaking out to bring some wrestlers in, but a couple of the names we've heard that make contact with talent are Christopher Daniels and QT Marshall. Marshall helps at the Nightmare Factory as well, and countless Ring of Honor wrestlers over the years credited Daniels with helping get them into ROH as well.
Battle Ground Bonus
WWE video game paychecks aren't quite what they used to be, as most talent will tell you, but they're still pretty good. One WWE talent told Fightful they were told they'd get a $35,000 bonus for appearing in the game, which doesn't figure to sell anywhere near what the usual annual games are. There were others that faced confusion, as they'll be included in the downloadable content, but were told they wouldn't be offered the bonus because they didn't have main roster contracts as of yet.
Ministry of Darkness
After Kevin Owens brought up the Ministry of Darkness on Raw, we've had a lot of people asking what some of the members are up to today. Obviously Edge is still wrestling, and JBL, Christian and Undertaker are still associated with WWE despite retirement. Viscera sadly passed away in 2014. Ron Simmons still makes appearances, but hasn't wrestled since 2012. Gangrel is still very active on the independent circuit, working for WrestlePro, Black Label Pro, ROH, and various other companies this year. Dennis Knight has moved into the culinary industry as a chef, and runs his own catering company. He's not wrestled in years.
Regarding Ethan Page and Joey Janela based on their interaction last week on Twitter that Page took exception to, we're told they spoke privately following the incident and made good at the events this past weekend.
While things are now smooth with Ethan Page and Joey Janela it would seem, things are not so well with Page and GCW promoter Brett Lauderdale. According to several witnesses, the two were in a heated verbal exchange Sunday at the Black Label Pro show at the GCW Collective. This stems from Page taking issue that trading cards were produced with his likeness ahead of the shows. We're told that both felt like they were owed an apology, but neither seemed keen on giving one. Page left BLP's event afterwards We aren't sure what exactly was said, but one wrestler there chalked it up to tensions running high after a long week.
We've reached out to both Page and Lauderdale about the situation.
We've heard there were no hard feelings with Deonna Purrazzo pulling out, and she did it becase she would not have had enough time to safely quarantine before Bound For Glory. There was also a risk of her bringing COVID back home, and with her boyfriend (WWE's Steve Cutler) trying to get back on TV, it didn't make sense.
When Lars Sullivan went down with a knee injury last year, the company originally had him with a tentative return date of June 2020. However, we'd been told several times that Sullivan himself expected to be back much sooner, as he'd been through knee operations in the past. As it turns out, things were much worse than expected.
Though Sullivan posted a rehab video in December, he was obviously nowhere near returning, and we're told the recovery had been an uphill battle. Those that we've spoke to within WWE have indicated that Sullivan ended up having to get both knees fixed, and the outlook went from roughly a year out of action to 16-18 months.
Originally, WWE had major plans for Lars Sullivan. There was heat on him over the racial comments he made prior to his signing, but not on the other controversies that had emerged earlier this year.
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