Truth Behind Top WWE Star’s Hiatus, Backstage News On WWE Futures Of Brock Lesnar & John Cena, CM Punk’s AEW Negotiations, NWA Shutting Down?, Plans For SummerSlam And WrestleMania 37, How RAW Star Was Injured, COVID Cases And Tons More

Welcome to the Insider Weekly Newsletter!

This week’s issue, Issue No. 1, includes news from Sunday, July 12, 2020 to Friday, July 17, 2020. Stories were written by Richard Gray and CJ Blaze with final editing done by Richard for clarity. Exclusive behind-the-scenes information was added, with content exclusive to WNC Insider Members.

Jump to section
WWE News
AEW News
Impact News
Ratings News
NWA Shutting Down?

WWE News

– Charlotte Flair revealed this week details behind her hiatus from WWE. The two-time NXT Women’s Champion, four-time Raw Women’s Champion and five-time SmackDown Women’s Champion wrote on social media she has dealt with complications stemming from her breast implants leaking. In 2018, Charlotte fell ill due to the implants leaking, in a case she described as “one of the worse the doctor had ever seen.” She had a few options to fix the issue but all carried a specific recovery time. Charlotte picked the option that allowed for her to get back in the ring the soonest. A few months ago Charlotte saw the issue return and now she is going with an option that should resolve the issue for a long time, although it carries a longer recovery period. As for Charlotte’s return, she remains out indefinitely but sources within the company feel she will return before the end of 2020.

– Edge admitted in a new interview with Sports Illustrated he ignored important warning signs prior to tearing his triceps in his match against Randy Orton at Backlash. He admitted to having elbow pain for a month prior to the bout but thought it was just normal “aches and pains” from pre-existing bone chips. However, as soon as he took an RKO from Randy Orton, he knew something had gone terribly wrong. The Rated R Superstar stated he got nauseous and broke out in a cold sweat. He said the injury was not “all that painful” compared to his neck pain, tearing both pecs or his Achilles. WWE expects Edge back and plan to book him like a big-time attraction, similar to stars like John Cena or Brock Lesnar.

– Kevin Owens raised concerns at WWE’s television tapings on Friday, July 3 over the lack of masks and people being too close, fearing little was being done to protect against COVID-19. This resulted in WWE adopting a mask-wearing policy, with failure to comply resulting in a fine, according to Pat Laprade of the French-language podcast Les anti-pods de la Lutte h/t Owens reportedly spoke with Vince McMahon directly about it, stating he was going to go home because he was uncomfortable. Laprade claimed McMahon asked Owens what he could do about it and asked about instituting a mask-wearing policy with fines attached. Owens explained he was once fined for cursing on SmackDown, was fined and did not do it again. WWE’s new mask-wearing policy states failure to wear a mask once will result in a $500 fine, with a second offense being punishable by a $1000 fine. Not only has WWE been unable to run shows outside of the WWE Performance Center since March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic but several people within the company have been infected. The issue is sensitive to Owens as his wife’s grandfather died from complications due to COVID-19 earlier this year. WWE has given talent and employees the option of not working during the pandemic.

– Kevin Owens spoke out this week during an interview with Sports Illustrated about his return to WWE Raw. He discussed his ankle injury being a result of him trying to make WrestleMania as special as possible. He also discussed in detail helping usher in WWE’s mask-wearing policy, as described above.

– Kevin Owens is viewed as a locker room leader, who has the respect of his colleagues. He has a desire to return to NXT and spoke about Triple H hyping it in interviews. Owens confirmed to CBS Sports he wants to return to NXT to help establish it as WWE’s third brand alongside Raw and SmackDown.

– WWE will tape The Horror Show at Extreme Rules on Sunday from the Performance Center. On Monday, they’ll hold a double Raw taping for next week’s episode and the July 27 episode. On Tuesday, they’ll tape the July 24 and July 31 episodes of SmackDown.

– WWE continues to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, just like the rest of the world. One source claimed at the beginning of this month there had been 50 cases of the virus in the company. There was no clarification on how many were active. Renee Young is the most hihg profile name to reveal she tested positive. WWE has told talent to not make test results public on their social media accounts.

– In addition to Renee Young, Adam Pearce and Kayla Braxton have also talked publicly about having COVID-19. Pearce used social media this week to discuss his battle with the illness and encouraged everyone to wear a mask.

– Tonight, Impact Wrestling will hold their Slammiversary pay-per-view where they will crown a new World Champion following the departure of Tessa Blanchard. One WWE source states the company would love to have her but it is understood her tremendous upside comes with a significant risk. Blanchard has a history, including accusations of using a racial slur against a colleague in 2017. I also spoke with someone who has worked with Blanchard who labeled her as “impossible” to work with. Some people believe she will get her shot with WWE, especially now that her profile has been raised following her world title reign. However, others are skeptical because of her attitude issues along with the PR problems signing her would cause.

– Tommaso Ciampa wrote on his social media he’s missing “2018 Ciampa” when he was reigning as NXT Champion. Despite being off of TV since his loss to Karrion Kross at TakeOver: In Your House, Ciampa is healthy and ready for whatever is next. Ciampa dealt with a neck injury last year but returned in October in time for NXT’s move to the USA Network. He was a top star for several months with fueds with Adam Cole and Gargano. Following his loss to Karrion Kross, Tommaso Ciampa has been rumored for a possible feud with Randy Orton. With Orton penciled in to face Drew McIntyre at SummerSlam, it remains to be seen what’s in store for one of NXT’s top stars.

– The program between Bray Wyatt and WWE Universal Champion Braun Strowman is expected to conclude at SummerSlam next month. We’re expecting that match to be for the Universal Championship, with Randy Orton challenging Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship. Vince McMahon had hoped SummerSlam would be in front of live fans and had planned to bring Brock Lesnar back. With SummerSlam taking place from the Performance Center, there are those that believe Lesnar will be saved. Brock remains under WWE contract.

– WWE talent released in April who have expiring non-compete contracts today: Kurt Angle, Heath Slater, Rusev, Zack Ryder, Eric Young, Luke Gallows, Curt Hawkins, Karl Anderson, Lio Rush, EC3, Drake Maverick, Aiden English, Maria Kanellis, Mike Kanellis, Erick Rowan and Epico.

– A false rumor circulated this week that John Cena’s WWE contract was up. It is not true and he remains with WWE on a part-time basis. Cena has a full plate with television and film and will continue to be used like Brock Lesnar.

– Drew McIntyre is finally reaching his potential in WWE. Believe it or not, Vince McMahon has always been high up on him but issues over his look as well as issues outside of the ring have held him back. Until now.

– Rey Mysterio is working without a WWE contract. Vince McMahon knows Mysterio is very important to their audience, especially in terms of the Latino demographic. He has tried for years to groom another star to help with this demo but none have come close to Mysterio. At this point it’s just a risk Vince is willing to take as contingency plans are being put in place in case they do not come to terms on a new contract.

– As of this week, WWE plans to hold WrestleMania 37 on March 28, 2021 from the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. The pandemic has delayed construction on the venue so there are multiple complexities at play.

– Jeff Hardy’s good friend Gregory ‘The Hurricane’ Helms told Sportskeeda he was not a fan of the current program with Sheamus. The controversial storyline incorporates Hardy’s very public battle with substance abuse, which has resulted in multiple arrests. In fact, Hardy currently has an open court case for driving while impaired. “I’m not a fan of it, I mean, I don’t think if you can really hurt Jeff at this point. Jeff is kind of untouchable,” said Helms. “Jeff is always going to be Jeff Hardy, and I think fans are always going to love him. The storyline doesn’t really do a lot for me though I don’t think it’s going to bring in any new fans. If you don’t know about Jeff and any of the problems Jeff has had in the past, like if you were a new fan and you don’t know about it, a storyline like this kind of shines the flashlight on it and I don’t really see the purpose of that. So, not crazy about it, but I love Jeff Hardy, so I got to support him.”

– WWE apparently has plans for Vanessa Borne on the main WWE roster. Her situation can be compared to that of Riddick Moss, who was brought up to Raw briefly for a 24/7 Championship stint involving Mojo Rawley, but hasn’t been seen much post-WrestleMania. Borne, who signed with WWE in 2016, was featured frequently on NXT TV alongside Aliyah last year before the two quietly split up.

– This week was a milestone for WWE as they celebrated five years of the Women’s Evolution. They used their content machine to release material on social media over the week. There are rumors of WWE doing an Evolution 2 show sometime next month but nothing has been confirmed.

– Rusev revealed on a recent Twitch live stream that he has tested positive for COVID-19. Both of Lana’s parents tested positive, and her mother had to be hospitalized this past week. Lana’s mom is now out of the ICU, while her dad is said to be recovering at home. There’s no word yet on if Rusev is exhibiting symptoms, or if Lana has also tested positive. Several of Lana’s coworkers in WWE have tested positive in recent weeks. Rusev has been teased to debut at Impact Wrestling’s Slammiversary event on Saturday, but it remains to be seen what his wrestling future holds.

– WWE Hall of Famer Tammy Sytch a/k/a Sunny is currently incarcerated at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution in Monmouth, New Jersey. A quick search of the facility’s public inmate search reveals she was booked today on the following charges: Eluding Police Officer, Contempt/Violate Domestic Violence Restraining Order, Operating Motor Vehicle during second license suspension and Contempt/Violate Domestic Violence Restraining Order. Sytch has been on on parole following her release from the Carbon County Correctional Facility in Pennsylvania earlier this year. She had been incarcerated since February 23, 2019 after being arrested in New Jersey on charges of Driving While Impaired. This was her sixth such charge since 2015.

– WWE Raw Women’s Champion Asuka was on a media call this week where she expressed interest in wrestling NXT Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley. Give Me Sport was on the call and noted on Twitter Asuka would like for the match to occur at the possible Evolution 2 pay-per-view. Speaking of Ripley, she dyed her hair blonde.

– Kairi Sane made it known on this week’s Raw Talk that she would like to challenge Asuka for the Raw Women’s Championship if Asuka beats Sasha Banks at Extreme Rules. This potential match falls in line with rumors of Sane working a retirement angle this summer that would allow her to return to Japan. There have been reports that she could end her wrestling career overseas, or return home to be a WWE ambassador. WWE has reportedly been working on offering Kairi Sane a new deal to stay with the company, but there’s no word yet on if one has been reached. It’s possible that Asuka vs. Sane may be booked for SummerSlam regardless considering there aren’t many viable contenders for the Raw Women’s Title at this time.

– Alexa Bliss has announced she is the latest WWE talent to join Cameo. Cameo is a service where fans can order personalized video shout-outs from their favorite Superstars. “I’m on cameo y’all!,” Bliss tweted. The price for a Cameo for Bliss is $399 and can be ordered at this link. Bliss joins Peyton Royce, Matt Riddle, Dominik Dijakovic, Sonya Deville, Bobby Fish, Bianca Belairnand Kevin Owens, who are all on the service.

– WWE NXT Superstar Tegan Nox is speaking about coming out as a Lesbian. In comments to Newsweek, she commented, “My life has always been a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ situation, but I felt like it was the right time, especially when you’ve found the right one you’re in love with. It was the right time to do that. The reaction has been great. There are a few people who obviously don’t agree with that, but 99 percent of the reactions have been positive. I’ve got texts coming through from so many colleagues and friends. It was nice. It’s great to see that there are so many nice people in the world.” Nox headlined this week’s WWE NXT in a championship match against Io Shirai.

– The Horror Show at WWE Extreme Rules betting odds as of Friday morning: Drew McIntyre -2000 favorite over Dolph Ziggler +700 in the WWE Championship match, Asuka (c) -300 favorite over Sasha Banks +200 for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship, Bayley (c) -600 favorite over Nikki Cross +350 for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship, Bray Wyatt -170 favorite over WWE Universal Champion Braun Strowman +130 in the Wyatt Swamp Fight, Apollo Crews (c) -420 favorite over MVP +260 for the WWE United States Championship, Seth Rollins -170 favorite over Rey Mysterio +130 in an Eye for an Eye match.

– Cesaro beat Big E in a singles match on this week’s SmackDown to determine the stipulation to the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship match at The Horror Show at Extreme Rules. It’ll be The New Day vs. Cesaro & Shinsuka Nakamura in a tables match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship.

– Final card for The Horror Show at Extreme Rules on July 19, 2020:
* Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler in a TBD Match for the WWE Championship
* Asuka (c) vs. Sasha Banks for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship
* Bayley (c) vs. Nikki Cross for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
* WWE Universal Champion Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt in a Wyatt Swamp Fight
* Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins in an Eye for an Eye match
* Apollo Crews (c) vs. MVP for the WWE United States Championship
* The New Day vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro in a Tables match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship


– New Japan Pro Wrestling held two shows last weekend in front of live audiences. The shows are the first major professional wrestling shows to take place in front of a real live crowd since the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down in March. On Saturday, EVIL beat Kazuchika Okada to win the 2020 New Japan Cup. He went on to headline Dominion in Osaka-jo Hall and challenge Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental titles.

– 3,898 was the announced attendance for Dominion. Fans wore face masked and the building was at one-third capacity. It is something officials from all profesional wrestling promotions worldwide were paying attention to for a guide on how it may look when they are able to return to running live shows.

– EVIL beat Tetsuya Naito to win the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championships. The match time was clocked at 38:01.

– Zack Sabre, Jr. & Taichi went over Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship. This was the co-main event and was clocked at 28:43.

– Shingo Takagi defeated Sho to retain the NEVER Openweight Championship in 20:07.

– EVIL is the new top heel in NJPW and the leader of The Bullet Club. He becomes the replacement for Jay White, who is currently unable to travel to Japan due to the COVID-19 pandemic. White has not competed in NJPW since February at the Manabu Nakanishi Retirement Event. At that show, he teamed with Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, & Tanga Loa to defeat David Finlay, Juice Robinson, Togi Makabe, & Tomoaki Honma in an eight-man tag match.

– New Japan Pro Wrestling has announced lineups for New Japan Road on July 20 and Senkogu Lord on July 25. You can read them at this link.

– Will Ospreay posted about his struggle with depression this week on social media, going as far as indicating he was considering taking his own life. “Suicide isn’t an option even when you feel like you’ve dropped the world, learning and pushing forward to be better is an option,” the NJPW star wrote. Ospreay last worked for NJPW on Feb. 26, 2020 when he teamed with Kazuchika Okada to defeat BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito. The promotion resumed operations last month after shutting down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ospreay is known across the world for his exciting high-flying style of wrestling, earning him the nickname The Aerial Assassin. In New Japan, he is a three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and one-time NEVER Openweight Champion. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255 immediately to get help. You are worth it.

AEW News

– Cody Rhodes spoke with Talk Sport about AEW’s negotiations with CM Punk. Cody confirmed there were talks — everyone knows about the infamous ‘text message — and that Punk asked for “a great amount of money and Punk is worth a great deal of money.” Cody explained he has a good relationship with Punk and he believes Tony Khan does as well. He also stressed AEW has to make smart financial decisions as they’re turning a profit, which is essential.

– Brian Cage, who has formed a succesful heel tandem with Taz on AEW TV, told TSN he wants to talk more. He also admitted he doesn’t really like being a heel. “I want to talk more,” Cage said. “I don’t wanna be the guy who just stands around. And, actually, I’m not the biggest fan of being a heel. Almost every wrestler likes to be a heel more than [a] face, but I prefer to be a face than a heel, which is, I think, more of a rarity. I think it’s more so because if you think of bigger heels, they often get painted in these big bully meathead roles. I just think that’s very one-dimensional and a little meh – a little vanilla to me. I’d much rather get over as a face and then turn heel.”

– Kenny Omega has three years remaining on his talent-friendly contract he signed with AEW. He is paid as one of the promotion’s top stars, which he clearly is. Omega has spent a considerable amount of time in year one in the tag division but it does not mean they’re are not plans for him as a singles star.

– Vickie Guerrero has landed a role in AEW storylines as Nyla Rose’s new manager. This news was made official during the Fight for the Fallen edition of Dynamite.

– Former NXT star MJ Jenkins made her AEW debut by teaming with Kenzie Paige in losing fashion against Brandi Rhodes and Allie in a quick match. Jenkins competed in the 2018 Mae Young Classic and appeared on NXT TV a handful of times before being released in April.

– Tony Schiavone missed this week’s episode of AEW Dynamite because his COVID-19 test results had yet to come in. Taz worked the first half of the show, while Chris Jericho filled in for the second hour.

– Next week’s Dynamite will feature the following:

* MJF in action
* Diamante vs. Ivelisse
* Cody defends the TNT Championship
* Jurassic Express vs. Jake Hager & Chris Jericho
* Hangman Page vs. Dark Order’s Five
* Young Bucks vs. The Butcher & The Blade – Falls Count Anywhere

– In a new video posted on YouTube, Diamond Dallas Page revealed his friend AEW producer and wrestler QT Marshall tested positive for COVID-19. He tested positive several weeks ago and again a couple of days ago. According to Page, Marshall had symptoms for three days. Marshall was removed from a scheduled Dynamite appearance a few weeks ago due to COVID-19. Marshall last worked for AEW at their Dynamite taping on June 11, 2020. It was on that show he teamed with Dustin Rhodes to lose to Adam Page and Kenny Omega in a bout for the AEW World Tag Team Championship. The match aired on the June 17, 2020 episode of Dynamite.

Impact News

– EC3 has been heavily teased to return to Impact Wrestling this Saturday at Slammiversary, with the company going as far as playing his theme song on a recent episode. NWA has also expressed interest in EC3 in the past, but their future is currently up in the air.

– Moose revived the TNA World Heavyweight Championship in April and declared himself as the titleholder, but that wasn’t the original plan. In a recent interview with Wrestling With Sports, Moose revealed that he was actually supposed to win the title in the King of the Mountain main event at the “TNA: There’s No Place Like Home” event that was planned for WrestleMania weekend. Moose is scheduled to defend the TNA World Championship against Tommy Dreamer in an “Old School Rules” match this Saturday at Slammiversary. It remains to be seen what Impact Wrestling has in store for the revival of the title.

– Final card for Impact Wrestling Slammiversary on July 18, 2020:

* Eddie Edwards vs. Trey vs. Ace Austin vs. TBD in a Fatal Four Way match for the Impact World Championship
* Jordynne Grace (c) vs. Deonna Purrazzo for the Impact Knockouts Championship
* Willie Mack (c) vs. Chris Bey for the Impact X Division Championship
* Alisha Edwards vs. Havok vs. Kiera Hogan vs. Kimber Lee vs. Kylie Rae vs. Nevaeh vs. Madison Rayne vs. Rosemary vs. Susie vs. Tasha Steelz vs. Taya Valkyrie in a Gauntlet for the Gold match to determine the #1 contender for the Impact Knockouts Championship
* The North (Ethan Page and Josh Alexander) (c) vs. Ken Shamrock and Sami Callihan for the Impact Tag Team Championship
* Moose (c) vs. Tommy Dreamer in an Old School Rules match for the (unsanctioned) TNA World Heavyweight Championship
* The Rascalz (Zachary Wentz and Dezmond Xavier) vs. TBD in a tag team match

Ratings News

– Last week’s episode of WWE Friday Night SmackDown did an average of 1.900 million viewers on FOX, per Showbuzz Daily. The show featured SmackDown Tag Team Champions The New Day defending against Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro in the main event. The final number adjusts down from the average of 1.905 million viewers the show did in overnight reporting. The week prior garnered 1.777 million viewers, which was the second-lowest audience since SmackDown moved to FOX. SmackDown finished with a 0.5 rating in the key 18-49 demographic, a 0.6 rating in the 25-54 demo and a 0.2 rating in the 18-34 demographic.

– Monday’s episode of WWE Raw did an average viewing audience of 1.561 million viewers, according to Showbuzz Daily. This number is slightly down from last week’s 1.580 million, and is the second-lowest in the show’s history. Here’s how the show did by hour: Hour 1: 1.697 million viewers, Hour 2: 1.599 million viewers, Hour 3: 1.504 million viewers. Raw ranked #4 on the Top 150 and drew a 0.48 rating in the 18-49 demographic.

– All Elite Wrestling has taken back the top spot in viewership for cable TV pro wrestling programming on Wednesday nights. This week’s “Fight for the Fallen” episode of Dynamite did 788,000 viewers on TNT, which was up from the 748,000 viewers they did the week prior. The show ranked No. 5 in the 18-49 demographic. NXT drew 631,000 viewers on the USA Network, down from the 759,000 viewers they did with the Great American Bash Night 2 episode last week. They ranked No. #49 among the top 150 shows.

NWA Shutting Down?

– Raven started a firestorm this week after stating he heard through the grapevine that Billy Corgan was shutting down the National Wrestling Alliance during an interview on Devon Nicholson’s Hannibal TV. “I don’t know. Through the grapevine, I heard that Billy’s not opening [the NWA] back up, he’s really disillusioned,” said Raven. While the NWA was starting to gain traction under Billy Coorgan’s leadership, things started to go from bad to worse. Jim Cornette left the promotion after a controversial remark on commentary late last year and Dave Lagana resigned in June after he was accused of sexual assault. Once Lagana resigned, the promotion announced they were halting all production pending a restructuring of executive management positions.

– NWA President Billy Corgan was quick to shoot down the rumor:

“A quick note about the National Wrestling Alliance, which I fought for, and won ownership of a few years back. We are NOT shutting down. So please disregard any and all rumor to effect. The NWA is not and will not be for sale, and those talent who are under contract remain under contract for a reason: which is that we at the NWA are trying to figure out a way to provide our great fans with wrestling content in a very, very tough environment.

“And, most importantly, keep our talent safe and the standard of production you’ve come to expect from us at a high level. Anything less, in my opinion, is unacceptable. So yes, appreciate the interest, appreciate the chatter, but don’t appreciate the unsourced rumors and speculation.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *