New IMPACT Wrestling signee Larry D was the subject of my newest longform article. We actually spoke right before he was signed with the company, and it's like he was looking in a crystal ball. He spoke about wanting to work for IMPACT because of the stage it provides and the ability to keep doing what he's doing locally.
Larry isn't known nationally yet, but is integral to the Kentucky scene. Outside of OVW, there aren't exactly a lot of blossoming promotions in the area because it's regulated by an athletic commission. This makes wrestlers competing more difficult and running events more difficult. Larry doesn't mind that and is friendly with the athletic commissions, and notes the positives and negatives. He does think the area could stand to have more of a hardcore style, and more varied styles in general.
Bad Luck Fale Contract
I spoke to Bad Luck Fale, who was very candid about his contract status with New Japan. He said that he has two years remaining on a five year deal. He seemed to prefer the almost unprecedented long NJPW contract, saying that longer deals motivate him to work harder and be loyal, while the shorter deals may have him looking elsewhere. He did specify that he didn't really consider leaving New Japan Pro Wrestling for anyone else, but that he has had conversations in the past. Fale implied that he would be doing himself a disservice if he didn't at least entertain that idea.
We also spoke about Bullet Club Beach Party. He's actually never been in Florida, so he jumped on that.
He invested in his Dojo with the idea that eventually New Japan would jump on board and end up partnering. He had to push for it little by little, work his way through the company, get in good with the office and introduce the idea of working together collectively. Fale said that if you work at New Japan, you develop a sense of belonging and protect the company and the culture, and if New Japan gives you a chance, it's for a reason. He's very proud of the expansion and integration from NJPW.
We spoke about Toa Henare, who Fale sees big things for. Fale also addressed the mass exoduses that we'd see out of New Japan every few years. He said that cultivating and creating their own talent has helped out NJPW in those times, and last year it contributed to the fact that we saw Young Lions used in a much more advanced role than before. As for Bullet Club, they often have people in mind to join them when people leave.
Another thing we spoke about with Fale about was the relationships between AEW, New Japan and Ring of Honor. He thinks the ROH and New Japan connection will always be there. He claims there's no issues between AEW & NJPW wrestlers, and that it's all between people that work in the respective offices. Considering that some of AEW's office employees are actually wrestlers, this does make things much more cloudy.
After word that WWE was potentially shopping PPV content to outside providers dropped on the WWE Q4 2019 call, Fightful was given a tip that McMahon's attendance isn't exactly what it once was.
On the Smackdown side of things, we were told that Vince McMahon was rarely, if ever at the show between Thanksgiving and the February 5th episode. We're told that Bruce Prichard has assumed his position at Gorilla for those shows, but we don't know exactly how much input Prichard has on the final product.
Over on Raw, it was noted that Vince McMahon was around "approximately half the time." Outside of that, McMahon is said to have been exceptionally private of late. This is still a far cry from decades past, when McMahon would almost never miss an episode of WWE Raw if he could help being there.
Women of Honor
ROH announced that they'll be crowning a new Women's Champion following the tumultuous departure of Kelly Klein.
Fightful Select can confirm that as of the turn of the year, Klein actually still was in possession of the WOH Title. She's not returned to wrestling, and Fightful was told that there were talks of potentially filing a lawsuit -- or at least that's what Joey Mercury had been angling for at one point.
We're also told that Hunter Johnson had designed the old championship, as well as several others along the way.
- Travis Browne was in attendance at last Monday's episode of Raw.
- Those that we've spoken to at the WWE Performance Center all say Simone Johnson is friendly, receptive, and willing to learn. We've also heard she's a "long way away," from being ring ready, which isn't really any surprise.
- Indie veteran Chris Michaels was guest coaching at the WWE PC last week.
AEW's Cincinnati options are a little more limited than they'd originally planned.
We were told that the former U.S. Bank Arena, Heritage Bank Arena, wouldn't do business with All Elite Wrestling because of their relationship with WWE. The arena is one of the top in the Cincinnati area, and actually caught fire during a WWE show back in 2012.
Jon Moxley has actually been pushing AEW to run a show in the Cincinnati area in the fall, and told us that he prefers the Ohio side of things for the event. Moxley, and others local to the area were hopeful that the brand would be able to run Heritage Bank Arena, which sits next to the Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals stadiums
Triple H told me that a lot of the differences in NXT's production are a concentrated effort to be different, and a lot of it is personal preference. With so much wrestling on television today, he wanted to create a visual that was unique to NXT. Sometimes they take a stab at things from a production standpoint just to see if it's going to work. How the talent performs is a big difference for NXT as well.
The HIGHER POWER
We also asked about Christopher Daniels being pitched as the HIGHER POWER. He says he never knew about it until he heard Bruce Prichard's podcast, but that he was actually pegged for something similar in WCW where he was Vampiro's superior. Daniels thinks that either one of those spots would have been a big disconnect as Vampiro and Undertaker were both well established.