For those expecting Michael Elgin to return to New Japan Pro Wrestling, that might not be as easy as you'd think. Elgin had told many in IMPACT Wrestling and close to him that he left New Japan because Tama Tonga was unsafe in hitting him with a chair in the G1 Tournament that he alleges tore his bicep. Elgin was also critical of Tama to several people in saying that he only got a push because of his father. The New Japan side of things is much different. Several that we contacted say that Elgin was actually fired from the company, but did not specify to us why.
Tama Tonga addressed this on his podcast after our story and confirmed he'd heard about the issues, but said that Elgin was already hurt and that he was using a plastic chair.
WWE talent were informed via their talent relations app recently that they would not be receiving a COVID-19 vaccine through WWE, and that it was their own responsibility to schedule and get said vaccine. This surprised several WWE talent, that were expecting this to be set up through WWE, while others that we spoke to figured because of the nature of their status as independent contractors that it would end up this way. There was a ton of frustration among talent that we've spoken to, who noted there are influential people near the top of WWE who actively speak against COVID. In the day since Drew McIntyre's announcement, several other names behind the scenes have tested positive for COVID.
James Storm-IMPACT Wrestling Update
James Storm made a surprise appearance on IMPACT Wrestling this week to team with Chris Sabin, but much like some other names that have popped up lately, we've confirmed that he doesn't have a contract with IMPACT Wrestling. Storm was also at the October set of tapings, but not at the November tapings that led up to Hard to Kill. He worked two matches at those October tapings, but we've learned that he's not done on IMPACT TV as of yet, as he participated in filming three matches for the show. Storm was brought in to work with AEW's Private Party, who appeared on the show.
Aleister Black - WWE
You haven't seen Aleister Black on WWE TV since being drafted to Smackdown, which was around the time his wife Zelina was fired from the company. Sources on Smackdown have indicated to us that they've not seen him at all backstage since after the Zelina release. We haven't heard as to whether or not there are any specific issues between Black and WWE, but one person we talked to in the company seems to think that they're letting any ill will between the two subside.
Contrary to reports that Taya would be working the IMPACT tapings following Hard to Kill, IMPACT sources indicated to Fightful that she was not present at the Sunday or Monday set of tapings. We don't know her contract status, but she noted (last year) that she signed a two year deal in 2019. She posted a photo of her flying out of Tennessee on Instagram, but some figured that was a red herring. The spot that aired on this past week's episode of IMPACT was taped prior to her flying out of Nashville.
Jake Crist has no ill will towards IMPACT Wrestling after leaving the company, according to my conversations with him. He told Fightful that he's open to actually working there again, and is exploring his options as a free agent, while admitting it sucked how everything ended, without going into too much detail. He spoke very highly of IMPACT upon his exit, and said that he isn't on board with people trashing a company they spent so much time with. It's also important to note he things handshakes are a thing of the past in wrestling locker rooms, as they should be.
Many have been asking about the status of Jessamyn Duke after not being teamed with Marina Shafir in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament. Duke hasn't wrestled since her Raw Underground appearance, but we're told she's not injured. Instead, she's been focusing on creating content for the UpUpDownDown brand. Duke was a full-time game streamer when she was hired by WWE, and effectively creates digital content full time for WWE now, and was said to have preferred that role over wrestling in the current climate.
We're told that NXT's plan from the start was to have Shafir team with someone else and there are no imminent plans for Duke to wrestle or creatively figure into NXT plans while she's working on UpUpDownDown.
I spoke with Effy for one of our better interviews we've ever done, and is well worth a listen. He spoke about GCW Fight Forever and said that Brett Lauderdale is willing to delegate a lot of responsibility in things like Big Gay Block and Big Gay Brunch, but wants to learn more about that process as well. Effy said the Speaking Out movement definitely changed the way a lot of things would be booked, but that these GCW themed events have been the easiest thing he's ever booked.
We went in depth on a lot of WWE issues and their reliance on nostalgia and the refusal to develop stars. He says that he felt bad for all the wrestlers that had their third party options limited, but thanked Vince McMahon's stubborn nature for helping give him a better market share of wrestling fans looking to take in content on Twitch.
Name At NXT!
Parker Boudreaux was backstage at NXT last week. For those of you who don't know, Parker is a 6-4, 300 pound offensive lineman from UCF who previously redshirted at Notre Dame. He bears a striking resemblance to a young Brock Lesnar, and WWE has had their eye on him. The Lesnar influence is real, as he refers to himself as "the next big thing." Paul Heyman tweeted praise towards him a few weeks ago, as well.
WWE Network Peacock
WWE Network moving to Peacock is a gigantic win for WWE, and was reflected by the people we spoke with immediately following the news.
One wrestler we spoke with actually hadn't heard of the news before it broke and said the company profit would be massive, and the first impressions were the additional eyes on the product. Another top name in the company took a more pessimistic approach and said they didn't care where they were distributed unless it affects their pay. Still, no negativity emerged from that conversation as they confirmed it was a big move for WWE.
Fightful has learned that talks have been ongoing since at least last January to migrate the WWE Network to another streaming platform or service, however we were not able to confirm that was with Peacock at the time. Several within the company told us they actually expected a move much sooner than this, but understood with the state of the world, that was easier said than done from a negotiating standpoint.
WWE told us only U.S. subscribers would be affected
Learn more about the deal at this link: fightful.com/wrestling/nbcuniversal-s-peacock-acquires-wwe-n...