Did AEW Tamper With Departing WWE Star?, Karrion Kross Injured & Relinquishes Title, WWE Departure Confirmed, Top WWE Star Criticized For Return, Bliss Pulled From SummerSlam, More Chaos At Raw, Impact Makes WWE Star Top Priority, NJPW Searching For New US TV Deal, Tons Of Exclusive News And Rumors

Welcome to the WrestlingNews.com Insider Weekly Newsletter!

This week’s issue, Issue No. 7, includes news from Saturday, August 22, 2020 to Friday, August 28, 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.

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WWE News

– The Forgotten Sons may be back on SmackDown in the near future.

Jaxson Ryker has put out two posts to hint that he’ll be walking into the ThunderDome “not forgotten.” On Friday, he posted on Instagram with a caption “time to return.”



Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake also posted on Instagram with similar hints.

Jaxson Ryker faced heat earlier this summer for making a pro-Trump tweet in the midst of racial tensions, protests, and riots. As a result, The Forgotten Sons were removed from storylines with no explanation.

It was rumored that the trio were in line for a SmackDown Tag Team Championship run, but plans were changed for The New Day to drop the titles to Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura.

– Damian Priest is new NXT North American Champion after winning the Ladder Match at NXT TakeOver XXX. As expected, the match was full of wild bumps and dives. At one point, Candice LeRae prevented Cameron Grimes from climbing the ladder. She then got physically involved by slapping Grimes and flipping him out of the ring with a hurricanrana. LeRae’s other big bump came when she held on to Bronson’s back when he splashed onto Johnny from the top of a ladder. The finish saw Gargano and Priest do a tug of war over the title on top of the ladder before Priest kicked Johnny down.

– WWE announced during NXT TakeOver XXX that new episodes of NXT UK will return on Thursday, September 17th. Rumor making rounds on Saturday was that talent traveled to London this weekend to undergo COVID-19 testing, but that has not been confirmed.

– Karrion Kross defeated Keith Lee in the main event of NXT TakeOver XXX to become the new NXT Champion. Kross was dominant throughout, but it wasn’t as one-sided as his other matches thus far. The pace was kept much slower compared to everything else on the card. In the end, Kross prevailed via pinfall.

– During the post-show media conference, Triple H revealed that Karrion Kross appeared to have separated his shoulder during the NXT TakeOver XXX main event. Kross went over Keith Lee to win the NXT Championship. Triple H noted that Kross will have an MRI done to confirm the extent of the injury, but it’s already looking like a sad situation following the big win.

– Newly crowned WWE NXT Champion Karrion Kross suffered a separated acromioclavicular joint last night during his match against Keith Lee at TakeOver XXX. Kross will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the full extent of the injury. You can read dot com’s coverage at this link.

– John Cena will play Peacemaker in the upcoming The Suicide Squad film.

The movie will be directed by James Gunn and include Idris Elba, Michael Rooker, Jai Courtney and Margot Robbie. Cena’s character in the film is described as a “douchey Captain America.”

The film is scheduled to be released on August 6, 2021.


– As seen on last night’s WWE NXT TakeOver XXX, Mauro Ranallo was not on the show.
Per John Pollock, Ranallo was back home in Canada with his family. In the time leading up to the show there was no word as to why he was home and when he will be back. The show was called by Corey Graves and Vic Joseph, who were in-house and Beth Phoenix, who worked remotely.

– Joe Belcastro, who was working as the head writer of WWE NXT, has departed the company. Johnny Russo and Gabe Sapolsky have gained influence as a result. Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Sapolsky continue as the key creative personnel on the NXT creative team. Belcastro left WWE on good terms and is welcome to come back should it interest him later. For now, he’ll pursue opportunities outside of the wrestling business.

– Samoa Joe voices the character of King Shark in the new Suicide Squad video game.

Footage of the game was released over the weekend at DC FanDome. This is also where we got the first-look of John Cena as Peacemaker in The Suicide Squad movie.

Joe’s character is in the movie but will be played by Steve Agee.

– Seth Rollins was asked about the whereabouts of Austin Theory during a SummerSlam promotional interview with The Sporting News. “He had some personal issues that came up so he took some time off to sort through them for the past month or two,” said Rollins. “It’s hard right now but we hope everything’s good for him so we hope to have him back sooner than later.” As we reported exclusively here on WrestlingNews.com Insider, Theory was removed from WWE television following accusations of inappropriate behavior with a young girl and tested positive for COVID-19.

– Renee Young confirmed tonight during the SummerSlam Kickoff was her “last hurrah” with WWE. “I am so excited to be here,” Young said. “Doing my last hurrah here at WWE.” As the Kickoff ended, the panel paid tribute to Young. She thanked everyone for their support and explained the fans had changed her life forever. As reported here on WrestlingNews.com, Young recently gave WWE her notice she would be leaving the company. As for what is next for her, we have details here on WrestlingNews.com Insider.

– Kevin Owens announced tonight on WWE SummerSlam that he’ll hold The Kevin Owens Show on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw and his guest will be Aleister Black. Black has been off TV all month following an injury angle after a match with Seth Rollins. It remains unknown why they did the angle but Vince McMahon is said to be high up on Black.

– Asuka made Sasha Banks tap out in the Asuka Lock to win the WWE Raw Women’s Championship at SummerSlam on Sunday night.

– “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt beat Braun Strowman in a Falls Count Anywhere Match to win the WWE Universal Championship tonight at SummerSlam.vvThe finish saw Wyatt hit two Sister Abigails on Strowman on the exposed wood of the ring as Strowman had used a boxcutter to cut away at the canvas. Wyatt pinned Strowman after hitting his finisher twice for the clean victory. After the match, Roman Reigns made his return for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. He speared The Fiend. He got out of the ring and attacked Strowman with a chair. Reigns got back in the ring and hit another spear on Wyatt and picked up the WWE Universal Championship to close the show.

– Newly crowned WWE NXT Champion Karrion Kross spoke to ESPN about his injury following his match at WWE NXT TakeOver XXX where he beat Keith Lee.

“I will get the professional, educated opinion on what the severity of it is. But it’s definitely separated. I won’t beat around the bush about that. As the saying goes, it’s not ballet. I feel mixed emotions right now. The whole situation is very bittersweet. I think from a natural place, I’m always a very motivated individual. I’m a solution-based thinker, rather than a pity-based thinker.”

As reported here on WrestlingNews.com, Kross suffered a separated acromioclavicular joint. He is scheduled for an MRI to evaluate the extent of the injury on Monday.

Kross when asked if he will be out an extended period of time:

“From my point of view, no. [Due to] how I feel and what I’ve heard, I don’t know. I’m very intuitive with my body. And the range of emotion that I have right now, while it’s not what I would like it to be, for me personally, it would indicate to me that I’m going to get be able to get through this without any sort of extreme measures, so to speak. In my opinion, today.”

Truthfully, nothing will be known for certain until the MRI is complete.

– Sonya Deville is the topic of a lot of speculation following her loss to Mandy Rose in the Loser Leaves WWE Match. You can watch a video WWE posted after the match embedded in the player above. We have the latest on her status here on WrestlingNews.com Insider.

– Renee Young finished up with WWE at SummerSlam. She released the following statement on Instagram:

“This November would mark 8 years in WWE. 8 years!!” Renee wrote. “An opportunity of a lifetime with a global company to learn, grow, make history and do things beyond my wildest dreams before I left Toronto for this adventure. I made friends, family- literally family- I met my husband here (what a f–king dreamboat) and people that will be a part of my life forever. I did things I couldn’t have even imagined or dreamt up.

From backstage interviews, a reality show, Talking Smack, being the first woman to be a part of a WWE broadcast in Saudi Arabia, being the first woman to sit at the commentary desk full time on Monday Night Raw, calling Wrestlemania, anchoring a brand new show with Fox Sports (which you guys will still be able to catch me on!) I’ve been so lucky,” Young continued. “But it’s also been a lot of my hard work, drive and passion that’s landed me in these amazing spots. I’ve had such an incredible run with WWE. It’s changed my life. But that all leads me to now. What’s next? Do I stay satisfied with what I’ve done? Or do I go in pursuit of new barriers and goals in mind? I always choose the latter.

“I have no idea what that means or looks like, but it’s time for me to go. Time to roll the dice again and shake things up,” she elaborated. “Time to light that fire again and forge on. Time to say bye to Renee Young and reconnect with Renee Paquette and remember why I started this journey to begin with. And as the ride slows down- as the world slows down, I see it as my opportunity to make a move. So I just wanted to say thanks to WWE and to the all the fans that have been so damn cool to me over the years. And send a crap ton of love to all of my people. I’m excited for the future! Thanks for everything.”

WWE stars of the past and present reached out to Renee with words of support. WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix sent her a message, saying, “Renee Young broke barriers for female voices. She taught me SO much about the broadcast booth and supported me. She brings out the best in everyone around her. But most of all, she is a friend I treasure. Thank you for everything Renee!”

– Roman Reigns is already being criticized following his return to WWE at the conclusion of last night’s SummerSlam pay-per-view. The feeling from some fans is he should not be automatically thrust back into the title picture after opting out due to COVID-19 pandemic. The assertion is Kevin Owens too opted out and was relegated to a pre-show match [at Extreme Rules] and left off the SummerSlam card entirely, when he was concerned about WWE not taking the virus seriously. Reigns was scheduled to win the WWE Universal Championship from Goldberg at WrestleMania 36 so it is not like a new course for him is being given. He is just being reinserted in the hunt for the WWE Universal Championship, where he will program with “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. There is also a chance they put Braun Strowman in and make it a triple threat. WWE has released new Roman Reigns merchandise, with the phrase “Wreck Everyone & Leave.” He had this shirt on when he returned and beat up both Strowman and Wyatt to stand tall with the WWE Universal Championship belt.

– Alexa Bliss was active on social media during last night’s WWE SummerSlam pay-per-view, “liking” posts asking where she was.

Bliss played a prominent role in the build to “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt vs. Braun Strowman, but was nowhere to be seen during the Falls Count Anywhere match for the WWE Universal Championship that headlined the show.

As for actual tweets by Bliss, she was more cryptic.

“You got to sin… to get saved,” Bliss tweeted before the show.

After the ending, which featured Roman Reigns returning and taking out both Strowman and Wyatt, Bliss tweeted this:

Bliss was not at the show and watched SummerSlam from home.

– As previously reported here at WrestlingNews.com, longtime WWE interviewer and announcer Renee Young finished up with the company at SummerSlam.

Young is married to AEW world champion Jon Moxley. A report appeared in a prominent wrestling newsletter that AEW was unaware that Young would be giving notice and begin looking for work elsewhere. The publisher of that newsletter has strong ties to AEW.

It was important to AEW to put out the story that they were surprised by Young’s career choice because AEW has had recent talks with Young and are concerned about potential tampering accusations from WWE. While Young hasn’t committed to anything, she has met in person with Tony Khan and AEW is hopeful of signing her when her WWE non-compete clause expires.

A source with AEW familiar with the talks told WrestlingNews.com that Young has expressed a strong preference for working as a commentator as opposed to a host or interviewer. AEW’s commentary booth has often been crowded, but Khan is said to be very eager to sign Young and is said to be open to the idea of Young being in the commentary booth.

– Renee Young finished up with WWE at last night’s SummerSlam pay-per-view. To say goodbye, she has penned a lengthy piece that is currently featured on The Players Tribune:

Below is an excerpt:

”Thank you to Vince.

A lot of ink has been spilled about the legend of Vince McMahon over the years, and I doubt that I can top any of it, so I won’t even try. But what I’ll add is this — probably one of the best things you can say about a CEO: You always want his approval. I mean…… always, always, always. It’s like a miracle drug, getting Vince’s approval. You can be having the crummiest night; but then if you’re back in Gorilla after some segment you finished, and Vince gives you a laugh? Or a smile and a “good job”? Or (the classic) a handshake and a NOD OF APPROVAL?! Man, right then, it’s like nothing else in the entire world matters. You’re king for a day.

Thank you to Stephanie and Hunter.

In many ways, WWE is still just a family business at heart — and if Vince is the grandfather, then Stephanie and Hunter are definitely the parents in charge.

You couldn’t ask for a better set.

Stephanie….. I mean, she is “women in WWE,” you know? But it goes so far beyond that. She’s just a boss, period. And I hate to use the term “boss lady” with Stephanie, because she’s a boss by any gender, but you really can’t say enough about the job she’s done in this male-dominated business. She’s so warm and friendly and inviting, but at the same time, you always know she’s taking care of her shit. And for one of the busiest people you’ll ever meet, one thing about Steph is that if you pass her in the hallway, and you’re like, “Hey, can I talk to you about something?” You’ve got her undivided attention. I can’t stress that enough. And that’s always meant a lot to me, as someone who’s gone to her for advice on many occasions. Stephanie is that rare kind of person who just cares too much to ever go through the motions.

Hunter, to me — he represents this idea of progress in WWE. He’s always pushing talent in the direction of opportunity, and in the direction of something new. You see it first and foremost in his work with NXT, and just the way he’s built that brand into one of the most exciting things in wrestling right now. And then I also got to experience that energy on a more direct level — when Hunter pulled me aside before TV one night and said, “Alright, so in two weeks? Coach won’t be available for Raw. And we want you to fill in for him.” I was like….. SORRY, WHAT?!? It wasn’t something we’d talked about, wasn’t something I’d pitched anyone on. It was completely out of left field. And that just said everything to me. It told me that, first of all, this is a company that’s trying things. But it was something deeper, too. I think it was also just this feeling of, like, Wow, people here genuinely want me — me, as a person — to succeed. I’ll always be grateful for that.”

Young has a 90-day non-compete agreement attached to her WWE deal, so she will not be working anywhere for three months. After that, she has multiple opportunities available to her both in professional wrestling (with AEW) and in sports (with FOX).

– WWE announced via social media on Monday that Apollo Crews will defend the United States Championship against Bobby Lashley this Sunday at Payback. Also confirmed for Payback is Sasha Banks and Bayley defending the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship. Expect more match announcements on tonight’s Raw.

– WWE officially announced at the start of Raw that Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt in a triple threat No Holds Barred Universal Championship match will go down this Sunday at Payback.

– Aleister Black returned to WWE on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw as a guest on The Kevin Owens Show. Black wore an all-black suit with a black bandage over his eye. Owens explained they had a common enemy in Seth Rollins. He showed the footage of Rollins and Murphy attacking him, with Murphy “removing his eye.” This angle wrote him off TV for a month. As the footage was playing, Black sold like his eye was bothering him. When Owens went to check on him he landed a back elbow and a spinning kick.

– Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax will challenge Bayley and Sasha Banks for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship on Sunday at WWE Payback.

– WWE had some issues with virtual fans during tonight’s broadcast of Monday Night Raw from the ThunderDome at Amway Center in Orlando, FL.

The issue everyone was talking about by the time the show was over was the fact a fan got Chris Benoit featured on the virtual crowd board. Below is a screen capture from Twitter:

The company continues to work out issues involving virtual fans and will ban fans who post inappropriate material. We’ve heard stories of other fans who have had their access revoked but this is the most notable through the first week of WWE utilizing virtual fans.

Pro Wrestling Sheet is reporting that former WWE star Wade Barrett is returning for one night only to help call NXT on Wednesday. Per the report, Barrett has not signed a deal with the company.

Barrett, a former Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion, left WWE in 2016 once his contract ended. Since his departure, he’s focused on his acting career and more recently worked commentary for the National Wrestling Alliance.

Though it’s not confirmed, one could assume Mauro Ranallo will miss Wednesday’s show again following his unexplained absence at TakeOver XXX. Barrett will likely call NXT alongside Vic Jospeh and Beth Phoenix.

– Former WWE NXT Champion Keith Lee made his Raw debut on this week’s episode. The debut was considered underwhelming by many as he had a forgettable match against Randy Orton that ended when Drew McIntyre pulled Orton out of the ring and Lee just went away. Lee debuted with generic theme music and ring gear. He has taken to Twitter to tell fans to let him handle it. “Music is out of my hands, Lee tweeted. “Period. Leave it be. I’ll sort it out later.” Another fan wanted to talk about his ring gear. “Leave it be and have some patience. Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay. I promise,” Lee replied “Let ME handle that stuff.”

– WWE has announced that Breezango will challenge Imperium for the NXT Tag Team Championship this Wednesday on NXT.

Breezango earned the title match by defeating Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch and Legado del Fantasma in a triple threat match on the NXT TakeOver XXX pre-show.

In addition to the title match, expect the fallout from TakeOver with Damian Priest and Karrion Kross emerging as new champions.

We’ll have complete NXT coverage right here at WrestlingNews.com.

– WWE announced on Raw that Randy Orton will face Keith Lee for a second time at the Payback pay-per-view this Sunday. Lee made his official Raw debut on Monday, but Orton won by disqualification due to interference from Drew McIntyre.

– Word going around last night was that several re-writes were made to the Monday Night Raw script with the final script going out at 9pm ET, one hour into the broadcast.

This isn’t a huge surprise and is something that has happened numerous times in the past. It’s also being reported that Vince McMahon arrived to the ThunderDome an hour before showtime and made even more tweaks.

These changes seemed to have affected plans for Raw Underground. WWE had advertised Dolph Ziggler vs. Ivar, but instead aired Bobby Lashley destroying competitors, including Ziggler and Ivar. Jessamyn Duke, Marina Shafir, Titus O’Neil, and Riddick Moss also reportedly taped Underground matches, but those may air next week instead.

Regarding the Payback match card, the original plans have remained in tact for those matches so far. Expect the card to be fleshed out on SmackDown as only four matches have been announced as of this writing.

– Chris Benoit being featured on the virtual fan board on last night’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw was not the only issue WWE experienced.

There was KKK imagery that made it onto the screen, which caused WWE to issue a statement to The New York Post:

“This abhorrent behavior does not reflect WWE’s values and we have zero tolerance for these unacceptable acts. We are working to ban those involved from future events and per our policies, any inappropriate actions result in the removal from the live stream,” WWE said in a statement.

In addition to Benoit and KKK imagery, there have been reports of Super Mario getting onto the screen, a man in a KKK robe waving a Confederate flag and more.

WWE will looking to tighten down the virtual fan experience as they move forward. We have more in today’s installment of Ask WNC.

– Rey Mysterio was busted open on the top of his head during his tag team match with his son Dominik against Seth Rollins and Murphy on last night’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw.

Mysterio tweeted out a photo of his bloody mask with, “@WWE #Retribution” and three blood emojis. The laceration likely occurred when he was thrown into the ring post by members of the Retribution faction.

The tweets are below:

We have WWE Monday Night Raw results available at this link.

– Former Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee made his WWE debut over the weekend in a match against Adam Cole at NXT TakeOver: XXX.

Cole went over by pinfall after hitting a Panama Sunrise. To the surprise of many, McAfee held his own and looked really good in doing it. McAfee detailed the whole experience in a lengthy piece by ESPN, where he explained he has no further WWE commitments binding.

“And then I got to Sunday, obviously, and I woke up. Neck was sore, back was sore, foot was sore. I got flipped on my head,” McAfee said on how he felt after the match “To be completely honest, I’m not 100% sure what’s going to happen. I’m not under contract to do anything else with Mr. H. I assume he and I will talk about this at some point because I heard his comments in the press conference afterward, which were very nice.”

“But for me, all I was worried about was that match at NXT TakeOver: XXX and then I’ll let everything else kind of sort itself out. And I think that’s where I’m at right now. I feel good. If I never get in the ring again, I’ll be very thankful for the opportunity and I’ll be proud of it. If something pops up and it’s right and my wife doesn’t mind, because I did miss some of the honeymoon for this whole thing and she’s been incredibly cool. There’s a lot that goes into it. To be honest, I just started thinking about it within the last 24 hours, and have no idea what the future holds.”

You can read more by ESPN at this link.

– WWE’s contract with the Amway Center for the ThunderDome has been posted online at this link. Below are some highlights:

The deal is from Aug. 14, 2020 to Oct. 31, 2020 unless the deal is mutually agreed upon to extend or shorten the end date with at least two weeks notice. Events during that time frame are every Monday (Raw), Friday (SmackDown) and additional Sunday night events on August 23 (SummerSlam), August 30 (Payback) and September 27 (TBA).

WWE is paying $12,500 for Sunday events, $10,000 for Monday and Friday events at $7,500 for any date they are working on the premises. Additionally, they will pay $2,500 for dark days, which are days where no work by WWE is being done inside the building.

– The Bella Twins revealed the names of their new babies to People.com.
Nikki and Artem Chigvintsev named their son Matteo Artemovich. It is their first child together. Brie and Daniel Bryan named their son Buddy Dessert Danielson. They also have a three-year-old daughter named Birdie Joe Danielson. As noted here on WrestlingNews.com, the WWE Hall of Famers gave birth one day apart.

– Stephanie McMahon admitted in comments with The National that WWE does not have enough women on the creative team.

“We do not have enough,” McMahon said. “We do not have enough female writers in the writers’ room, we are actively working on that. There is a dedicated focus to how we tell our women’s storylines in the show, but we can always be better.”

As for the success of the women’s revolution in WWE, McMahon credited her husband Paul “Triple H” Levesque.

“He started recruiting elite female athletes, as well as men, and he started training the women the same as the men, giving them the same amount of match time on television at our live events,” she said. “These women, when given the opportunity, absolutely started to steal the show every time, our fans started chanting ‘this is wrestling’ and ‘women’s wrestling.’”

You can read her complete interview at this link.

– Karrion Kross vacated the WWE NXT Championship on this week’s episode of NXT on the USA Network.

As previously reported here at WrestlingNews.com, Kross suffered a separated acromioclavicular joint at NXT TakeOver XXX against Keith Lee. He was scheduled for an MRI on Sunday and speculated on the severity of the injury.

Kross came out with his arm in a sling and stated he was a “realist” and understand the reality of his injury. He knows WWE will not let him compete.

“On the path there are obstacles, but for me, the obstacles are the path,” said Kross.

He put the title on the mat and walked to the back.

William Regal announced later in the show there will be a Fatal Four-Way Match to determine the new WWE NXT Champion on next week’s show. The match will be Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Finn Balor vs. Adam Cole in a 60-minute Iron Man bout.

Below are several news items coming out of this week’s WWE NXT:

As Richard noted, a fatal four-way 60-minute Iron Man match will determine the next NXT Champion on Tuesday. It was also announced that next week’s “Super Tuesday” show will feature Legado del Fantasma vs. Isaiah Scott & Breezango in a six-man street fight.

– Speaking of Breezango, the duo defeated Imperium to capture their first NXT Tag Team Championship.

– Austin Theory has returned to the NXT brand following a short run on Raw earlier this year and a hiatus over the summer. Theory was met with a slap across the face from Bronson Reed.

– Tommaso Ciampa returned to action with a seemingly heel persona again. Ciampa aggressively beat down Jake Atlas in his first match since TakeOver: In Your House.

– Damian Priest’s first rival as North American Champion is likely going to be Timothy Thatcher following a confrontation the two had backstage.

– Wade Barrett will reportedly work next week’s NXT commentary after he filled in for Mauro Ranallo on this week’s broadcast.

Click here for complete NXT results and stay tuned to WrestlingNews.com for the latest NXT updates.

– Former WWE Tag Team Champion Xavier Woods was advertised as the new co-host for Talking Smack alongside Kayla Braxton, but he was notably absent during last week’s premiere with The Miz filling in his place.

Woods explained on Table Talk that communication fell through the cracks regarding his new role.

“I was at home. I found out when ya’ll found out. It’s been adjusted, so I’ll be there soon. It’s one of those things where, it’s a very large company and you’ll find with any large company, sometimes, things get lost in the cracks. Things somebody told someone else, but they didn’t. It’s a regular thing with a company that is as large and successful as this. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just, ‘Oops,’ and now we’re cool.”

“Fingers crossed that I get to continue to host it because when someone tells me, ‘Hey, you get to do this unscripted television show,’ people don’t always like what I say. So, we’ll see how long it goes.”

Woods should appear with Braxton on the next episode airing Saturday morning on the WWE Network.

– WrestleVotes is reporting that WWE will likely wait until WrestleMania 37 in 2021 to officially induct the 2020 Hall of Fame class.

When WrestleMania 36 festivities were cancelled, WWE had hoped to hold the ceremony later in the year when fans returned, which was slated to be SummerSlam weekend at one point.

The 2020 inductees are Batista, The nWo (Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall & Sean Waltman), The Bella Twins, JBL, and “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith.

– WWE is happy with the success of their ThunderDome at Amway Center in the early going.

Stephanie McMahon sent out an email, touting the success of the company’s new viewing experience. She confirmed more than 1000 virtual fans have been in attendance at recent shows. The feeling is the shows have added energy to WWE shows, something that was lacking from the Performance Center.

Below is McMahon’s email in its entirety:

Good morning,

Last week we debuted “WWE ThunderDome” to the world, as we took residency at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida with a state-of-the-art set, lasers, drone cameras, pyrotechnics, smoke effects, virtual reality, and most importantly, 1,000+ virtual fans in attendance at any given time via proprietary technology provided from The Famous Group. The spectacle and energy have returned to WWE, and it feels great to watch.

Thank you to our media partners at FOX, NBCUniversal, BT, and all around the world, for your support over the past five months as we produced seven hours of weekly, in-ring content from our WWE Performance Center. I’d also like to thank our brand partners including Cricket Wireless, World of Tanks, Hyundai, 2K, Good Humor, Applebee’s, Nissin Cup Noodles, Welch’s and Hulu, for your support of SummerSlam and NXT TakeOver 30 this past weekend.

We are very excited to share this most recent evolution in our in-ring product with you and offer new and exciting ways to engage with you and our global fan base.

Have a great day,


– WWE Hall of Famer “Bullet” Bob Armstrong has died at the age of 80 according to son Scott Armstrong.

WWE.com issued the following:

WWE is saddened to learn that “Bullet” Bob Armstrong, a WWE Hall of Famer and patriarch of the legendary Armstrong wrestling family, has passed away at age 80.

Equal parts strongman and showman, Armstrong, who was born Joseph James in Marietta, Ga., on Oct. 3, 1939, proved himself as one of the most tenacious grapplers on the planet during the territorial days of sports-entertainment. He secured his toughman reputation long before he ever set foot in the ring, thanks to his tour of duty in the U.S. Marine Corps and his seven-year tenure as a member of the Fair Oaks (later Cobb County) Fire Department.

Armstrong, however, didn’t rest on his laurels when he was between the ropes. He handled himself well in the rough-and-tumble southeastern territories by employing an assortment of holds and moves, including his feared sleeper and Georgia Jawbreaker. He also possessed the gift of grappling gab, giving him the uncanny ability to wear down a rival with his words as well as with his strength.

His chosen trade later became a family business, as Armstrong’s four sons — Joseph, aka Scott Armstrong, Brad, Steve and Brian, aka WWE Hall of Famer “Road Dogg” Jesse James — followed in their father’s footsteps. The Armstrong boys often found themselves in their dad’s corner, as “Bullet” Bob partnered with each of his sons at various points in a competitive career which spanned over six decades.

For his part, Armstrong often credited his beloved wife, Gail, as the secret to his success. Upon being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011, the self-proclaimed “ol’ war horse” also made the case that his many triumphs likely benefited from divine intervention, too.

“I think somebody up there likes me,” Armstrong said during his 2011 WWE Hall of Fame induction speech. “I got to live my dream.”

WWE extends its condolences to Armstrong’s family, friends and fans.

– WWE announced on Friday that Dominick and Rey Mysterio will face Seth Rollins and Murphy in a tag team rematch this Sunday at Payback.

– Sami Zayn made his return to SmackDown on Friday night with “his” Intercontinental Championship in hand.

Zayn has been out of action since WrestleMania 36 when he opted not to compete during the pandemic. Zayn had to “forfeit” the Intercontinental Championship as a result.

AJ Styles went on to capture the title in an 8-man tournament before Jeff Hardy won it last week. Tonight, Zayn made Hardy aware of his intentions with a boot to the face.

Click here for complete SmackDown results.

– WWE announced during SmackDown that Rey Mysterio will go one-on-one with Seth Rollins on Monday’s new episode of Raw. As noted, Mysterio will team with son Dominick to face Rollins and Murphy in a tag team match at Payback on Sunday. Their singles match on Raw is expected to be the blow-off to their feud.

– Roman Reigns apparently has a new manager.

During the closing scene of SmackDown, Roman Reigns signed the contract for the triple threat No Holds Barred Universal Championship match at Payback. Reigns said he’ll win back the Universal Title, and that’s not a prediction, it’s a spoiler. The camera panned to none other than Paul Heyman who concluded with, “Believe that.”

Heyman has reportedly been away from WWE for a brief time after being relieved of his duties as Raw Executive Director. With Brock Lesnar not scheduled to return anytime soon, it looks like Heyman has aligned with Reigns.

We’ll have complete coverage of Payback this Sunday right here at WrestlingNews.com.

– Matt Riddle vs. King Corbin was added to the WWE Payback card on Friday Night SmackDown. As of this writing, six matches are now confirmed.

No Holds Barred Triple Threat for the WWE Universal Championship
– “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match
– Bayley & Sasha Banks (c) vs. Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler

WWE United States Championship Match
– Apollo Crews (c) vs. Bobby Lashley

Singles Match
– Keith Lee vs. Randy Orton

Tag Team Match
– Dominick & Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins & Murphy

Singles Match
– Matt Riddle vs. King Corbin

We’ll have complete Payback coverage right here at WrestlingNews.com.

AEW News

Below are news and notes from the 8/22 episode of AEW Dynamite:

  • NWA Women’s Champion Thunder Rosa was featured in a promo, where she challenged AEW Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida to a title match at All Out.
  • Mr. Brodie Lee squashed Cody on tonight’s AEW Dynamite to win the TNT Championship. There was a stretcher job for Cody and Dark Order threw him off and Lee attacked. QT Marshall and Dustin Rhodes attempted to make the save, as did Brandi Rhodes but all were taken out.
  • Diamante and Ivelisse beat The Nightmare Sisters (Brandi Rhodes & Allie) to win the Deadly Draw Women’s Tag Team tournament.
  • Chris Jericho will face Orange Cassidy in a Mimosa Mayhem Match at All Out. The Mimosa Mayhem will feature 500 cases of champagne in a tank at ringside with 80 gallons of orange juice. The winner can be determined by pinfall, submission or throwing your opponent in the tank.
  • Next week’s episode of Dynamite will feature a gauntlet match to determine the challengers for Kenny Omega and Adam Page and the AEW World Tag Team Championship at All Out. The bout will begin with the Natural Nightmares and The Young Bucks. The winners will face Best Friends. The winner of that match will face FTR.

– Tommy Dreamer called out Brodie Lee on Twitter last night after he won the AEW TNT Championship from Cody Rhodes and beat him down to end the show. “HEY @ThisBrodieLee,” Dreamer tweeted. “You just hurt alot of people I consider family YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS #VIOLENCE is coming #AEWonTNT #AEWDyamite” Dreamer previously worked for AEW in the inaugural Casino Battle Royal at Double or Nothing 2019 and had a short tenure as a producer. No word if this means he will return to face Lee. for the TNT Title.

– AEW will provide an update on Cody’s condition on the next episode of Dynamite. “We will have an update on the condition of @CodyRhodes this Thursday, August 27th at 8/7c on #AEWDynamite,” the promotion tweeted. For those that missed it, Mr. Brodie Lee beat Cody for the AEW TNT Championship on this week’s show. It was a squash match as Lee beat Cody with ease, hitting a discus lariat to win the title. After the match, Dark Order prevented Cody from getting medical help. He was loaded onto a stretcher but was dumped off. Dustin Rhodes and QT Marshall came out for the save but were also attacked. Brandi Rhodes laid herself across her husband but was choked out by Anna Jay. Lee closed the show by pouring the remnants of the former TNT title over Cody.

– WarnerMedia issued a press release on Monday to announce Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal has signed a multi-year contract extension that will continue his work on TNT’s Inside the NBA and NBA on TNT Tuesday Night Coverage. In addition, the deal will expand O’Neal’s role throughout the WarnerMedia Portfolio. One of those expanded roles could include appearances on AEW Dynamite as WarnerMedia teased his return to the ring in the release.

– Shaquille O’Neal wants a match in All Elite Wrestling against Cody.

“I’d love to fight Cody,” O’Neal told The Athletic h/t Pro Wrestling Sheet. “Write it. Print it. Text it to him. Call AEW up and tell them.”

As reported earlier here at WrestlingNews.com, O’Neal signed a multi-year contract extension that will continue his work on TNT’s Inside the NBA and NBA on TNT Tuesday Night Coverage. In addition, the deal will expand O’Neal’s role throughout the WarnerMedia Portfolio. One of those expanded roles could include appearances on AEW Dynamite.

Per The Athletic, O’Neal working for AEW is in the “embryonic stage at best.”

O’Neal is a big pro wrestling fan, appearing for WCW in the 90s, with TNA Wrestling in the 2010s and competed as a surprise celebrity entry in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 32. O’Neal was actually scheduled to face Big Show at WrestleMania 33 but the match did not happen.

O’Neal revealed on his podcast a couple years ago the match did not happen because WWE kept changing it. It was originally scheduled to be a singles match and then a three-on-three. He claimed WWE then canceled the bout so he made other arrangements. WWE apparently called back but he told them he was not going to do it.

– Morale is said to be very high right now in All Elite Wrestling.

The feeling is the promotion continues to not only remain steady in viewership but grow during a time when they have not been able to have a live audience. WarnerMedia executives were ecstatic at the viewership numbers from Dynamite this past Saturday.

Dynamite helped TNT have three of the top five rated broadcasts in the 18-34 demographic on cable for Saturday night. The other two broadcasts were NBA Playoff games.

Tony Khan took to social media to thank fans for following them to a different night.

“Thank you everyone who watched #AEWDynamite last weekend, you all came through for us again, another Top 5 for our night, + 8 straight weeks in the Top 10! We’re back tomorrow (Thursday 8pm ET) Live with a huge card, then back to Wednesday next week 9/2 before All Out on Sat 9/5!”

– Cody is expected to be off AEW television for an extended period of time, PWInsider hears.

The former TNT Champion, who dropped the belt to Mr. Brodie Lee on Saturday’s episode of Dynamite, will be off to sell the post-match beatdown from the Dark Order.

Cody has also been asked by Stephen Amel to be a part of the STARZ Heels series, which will begin production in Georgia. The time off of television will provide Cody with the time to participate in the side-project.

For those that missed it, Cody was stretchered out of the ring and attacked by Dark Order following his loss on Dynamite to Lee. Dustin Rhodes and QT Marshall tried to make the save but were done away with. Brandi Rhodes came out but Dark Order’s Anna Jay choked her out. The show faded with Cody having the remnants of the old TNT belt being dumped over him.

– Excalibur is rumored to be returning to television on tonight’s episode of AEW Dynamite.

Jim Ross tweeted out a photo where he was flanked by Excalibur and Tony Schiavone
with the caption, “GAME DAY! @AEWonTNT LIVE tonight at 8/7 CT. The wagon’s gonna be loaded.”

Excalibur requested to be removed from AEW TV a few weeks ago following an old promo from a PWG show that resurfaced on social media. The video showed both him and WWE’s Kevin Owens using racial slurs.

Neither Excalibur nor Owens were reprimanded for the video as the footage was known about. We have more details on that in today’s installment of Ask WNC.

– AEW has added four matches to the All Out pay-per-view card on September 5.

FTR won the number one contender’s gauntlet match for the right to challenge Kenny Omega & Hangman Page for the AEW Tag Team Championship.

AEW Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida will put her title on the line against NWA Women’s Champion Thunder Rosa.

A Casino Battle Royale will take place to determine the next challenger for the AEW World Championship. Darby Allin, Lance Archer, Brian Cage, Ricky Starks, Eddie Kingston, The Lucha Bros, The Butcher & The Blade are confirmed entrants.

Lastly, Dark Order will take on the team of Matt Cardona, Scorpio Sky, and The Natural Nightmares in an eight-man match.

Below is the updated All Out card:

AEW World Championship Match
– Jon Moxley (c) vs. MJF

AEW Women’s Championship Match
– Hikaru Shida (c) vs. Thunder Rosa

AEW Tag Team Championship Match
– Kenny Omega & Hangman Page (c) vs. FTR

Mimosa Mayhem Match
– Chris Jericho vs. Orange Cassidy

Casino Battle Royale for AEW World Championship shot
– Darby Allin, Lance Archer, Brian Cage, Ricky Starks, Eddie Kingston, The Lucha Bros, The Butcher & The Blade confirmed

– Dark Order vs. Matt Cardona, Scorpio Sky & Natural Nightmares

All Out will likely emanate from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL and will air live on pay-per-view on Saturday, September 5. We’ll have complete coverage right here at WrestlingNews.com.

– The following matches have been announced for next week’s AEW Dynamite, which will air on Wednesday in its normal slot:

  • Chris Jericho vs. Joey Janela
  • Santana & Ortiz vs. Best Friends
  • Private Party & SCU vs. Jurassic Express & Young Bucks – winning team faces each other at All Out
  • Jon Moxley vs. “Smart” Mark

– In other AEW news, former NXT star Tay Conti looks to have joined Dark Order following an invitation from her Deadly Draw tag team partner Anna Jay. Conti was released from WWE in April and it’s all but confirmed that she’s #AllElite.

Click here for this week’s Dynamite results and here for the updated All Out card.

– Excalibur returned to All Elite Wrestling at last night’s Dark tapings in Jacksonville, FL.

He did not work Dynamite as Chris Jericho worked commentary alongside Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone.

This was Excalibur’s first show since July 29 as he requested to be held off following following an old promo from a PWG show that resurfaced on social media. The video showed both him and WWE’s Kevin Owens using racial slurs.

Neither Excalibur nor Owens were reprimanded for the video as the footage was known about. We have more details on that in Thursday’s installment of Ask WNC.

– This week’s episode of AEW Dynamite featured a live crowd for the first time in several months. The live crowd filled approximately 10% of the Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL.

Social distancing was in full force as fans had to wear masks and temperature checks were done before fans were allowed to enter.

If fans wanted to purchase merchandise, they could do so on their smart phone and were notified for contactless pickup. The same was true for concessions as orders could be placed on your phone and picked up at a counter. Restrooms were also monitored so limited fans could enter and had to stay at least six feet apart once inside.

AEW Dark was taped on a close set. Only friends, family and sponsors were permitted in, with ticketed fans having to wait until Dynamite began.

Tony Khan gave the audience a pep talk prior to the show, with Chris Jericho delivering a farewell “thank you” address.

– Sammy Guevara was busted open during his Tables Match against Matt Hardy on this week’s episode of AEW Dynamite.

The laceration to his head occurred as the match was being featured in the picture-in-a-picture commercial. Guevara went over after suplexing Hardy through a table that was setup in the ring.

Below are photos and videos:


Following the match, Orange Cassidy attacked Chris Jericho on announce. They brawled to end the show. Jericho and Cassidy will of course face one another in the Mimosa Mayhem Match next month at All Out.

We have complete results from AEW Dynamite at this link. CJ updated you with the latest All Out card, which is included below:

AEW World Championship Match
– Jon Moxley (c) vs. MJF

AEW Women’s Championship Match
– Hikaru Shida (c) vs. Thunder Rosa

AEW Tag Team Championship Match
– Kenny Omega & Hangman Page (c) vs. FTR

Mimosa Mayhem Match
– Chris Jericho vs. Orange Cassidy

Casino Battle Royale for AEW World Championship shot
– Darby Allin, Lance Archer, Brian Cage, Ricky Starks, Eddie Kingston, The Lucha Bros, The Butcher & The Blade confirmed

– Dark Order vs. Matt Cardona, Scorpio Sky & Natural Nightmares

All Out will likely emanate from Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, FL and will air live on pay-per-view on Saturday, September 5.

– Following the success of having paid fans in attendance at 10% capacity for last night’s Dynamite, AEW is selling a limited amount of tickets for Dynamite on September 2 and All Out on September 5.

Tickets for both events go on sale Saturday with Dynamite tickets starting at $35 and All Out tickets starting at $50.

Richard recapped how AEW pulled off having a socially-distanced event at this link.

Impact News

– Miroslav Barnyashev, better known as Rusev, continues to recover from surgery and has received numerous offers for a return to the ring once he is healthy.

Barnyashev continues to tell promoters that he will likely be retiring, although very few believe that will ultimately be the case.

The most interested party continues to be Impact Wrestling. An Impact Wrestling employee familiar with the creative plans of the company told WrestlingNews.com that Barnyashev remains the top priority free agent signing for the company.

Not only has Impact Wrestling offered Barnyashev a six figure guarantee for far fewer dates than he was working for WWE, but he has been promised a run as champion as well.

Barnyashev has been vocal about the fact that he invested his money well and doesn’t need to wrestle anymore. At 35 though, most assume he will return at some point and WrestlingNews.com will continue to follow this story.

– Impact Wrestling has announced five matches for next week’s broadcast on Tuesday, September 1:

* Taya Valkyrie will battle frenemy Rosemary in a Wrestle House match
* Rhino is expected to team with Heath Slater to take on Reno Scum
* Dez and Wentz of The Rascalz will face Ace Austin & Madman Fulton
* Sami Callihan vs. Rob Van Dam round two
* Eric Young will challenge Eddie Edwards for the Impact World Championship

– Impact Wrestling’s Madison Rayne is preparing for her final independent wrestling match on September 26 at a Warrior Wrestling event in Chicago.

Rayne will continue working with Impact going forward as an on-air talent alongside husband Josh Mathews. Rayne has spent most of her career in TNA/Impact, but has also worked for Shimmer, Ring of Honor, and competed in the 2018 Mae Young Classic.


– New Japan Pro Wrestling continues to search for a television home in the United States, but recent talks with a major broadcaster failed to yield a deal.

NJPW has had discussions with Sinclair Broadcasting about a few different scenarios. NJPW expressed interest in buying ROH, but Sinclair’s asking price was too high. NJPW then pitched Sinclair on adding a one hour NJPW program to Sinclair stations, in a two-hour block paired with ROH’s TV show.

NJPW’s asking price was said to be very high and Sinclair wasn’t interested in paying a license fee for the show, let alone NJPW’s asking price. Sinclair was only interested in a barter arrangement where NJPW would be given a few minutes of commercial time to sell.

– New Japan Pro Wrestling has announced the lineup for Fighting Spirit Unleashed, an event that will occur over two nights on NJPW Strong.

Scheduled for Sept. 4, 2020:

  • Jay White vs. Flip Gordon
  • Hikuleo vs. Brody King
  • NJPW debut of Fred Rosser (f/k/a Darren Young in WWE)

Scheduled for Sept. 11, 2020:

  • KENTA vs. Jeff Cobb with the winner challenging for the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship

NJPW Strong airs Fridays at 10 PM ET on NJPW World.

Ratings News

– WWE Friday Night SmackDown did 2.168 million viewers on FOX in the overnight numbers. That is up from the 2.002 viewers the show did in the final number last week, which was adjusted up from the overnight number that was 1.979. Friday’s show did 2.189 million viewers the first hour and went down to 2.146 million viewers the second hour. SmackDown helped FOX finish first place in the men 18-49 demographic and first in the adults 18-49 demographic for the night with a 0.6 rating.

– Last week’s episode of WWE Friday Night SmackDown ended up doing 2.198 million viewers on FOX. That is up from the 2.168 million viewers the show did in the overnights that were released over the weekend. Friday’s show, which featured the debut of WWE’s new ThunderDome at Amway Center, did a higher viewership than the week prior, which garnered 2.002 million viewers. SmackDown helped FOX finish first place in the key demos for the seventh week in a row. This was the highest viewership number since the post-WrestleMania 36 episode on April 10.

– This week’s episode of AEW Dynamite did an average viewing audience of 755,000 viewers on TNT. The show ranked No. 5 in the 18-49 demographic with a 0.31 rating. The audience was down from the 792,000 viewers from the week prior. Dynamite was preempted by NBA on TNT, and the Saturday episode had a delayed start time. The episode also went up against NXT TakeOver XXX on the WWE Network. In comparison, NXT’s unrivaled episode on Wednesday drew 853,000 viewers on USA Network.

– This week’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw did an average of 2.028 million viewers on the USA Network, up 23% from the 1.643 million viewers the show did last week.

Here’s how the show did by hour:

Hour 1: 2.140 million viewers
Hour 2: 2.045 million viewers
Hour 3: 1.900 million viewers

Raw ranked #5 on the Top 150 and drew a 0.68 rating in the 18-49 demographic.

– This week’s WWE NXT drew 824,000 viewers on the USA Network without head-to-head competition from AEW Dynamite or NBA. This is down 3.4% from from last week’s 853,000. The TakeOver fallout show ranked No. 24 in the 18-49 demographic with a 0.24 rating again. It is now the second-best viewership number of the year.

– This week’s episode of AEW Dynamite did an average viewing audience of 813,000 viewers on TNT. The show ranked No. 11 in the 18-49 demographic with a 0.29 rating. The audience was up from the 755,000 viewers on Saturday. Dynamite aired on Thursday this week due to being preempted by the scheduled NBA games on TNT. In comparison, NXT’s unrivaled episode on Wednesday drew 824,000 viewers on USA Network.


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