Posts Tagged ‘Booking’

Booker T believes Claudio Castagnoli “could have been made” had WWE just given him “a huge push”.

Catagnoli’s time as Cesaro did lead to several banner moments (WrestleMania 37’s win over Seth Rollins and his subsequent Universal Title shot vs. Roman Reigns being latter examples from his final year alone), but he was never viewed as anything more than a utility player behind the scenes.

Or, at least, that’s what Book thinks. The legend is probably spot on.

Former World Champ Booker told fans tuning into his ‘Hall Of Fame‘ podcast that “it really wouldn’t have mattered how we used him [after that] as long as we kept him at a certain tier”. He’s also slightly shocked that Castagnoli was able to show so much patience despite being consistently-overlooked for a solid decade.

Book isn’t certain he could’ve been so patient. Frustration would’ve taken over, and he might’ve left the promotion long before Claudio did. However, the legend is happy to see Castagnoli land in AEW and make a splash at both Forbidden Door and on Wednesday’s Blood & Guts episode of Dynamite.

On Cesaro’s WWE departure, Booker said: “He’s one that I wouldn’t have wanted to lose”.

Claudio Castagnoli was AEW X NJPW Forbidden Door’s chief headline-maker, as his surprise debut saw him face Zack Sabre Jr. one on one, join the Blackpool Combat Club, and position him as a promotional centrepiece ahead of Wednesday’s Blood and Guts match with the Jericho Appreciation Society.

Fightful Select reported after the appearance that this was not AEW’s original plan for the former Cesaro’s arrival. Indeed, the former WWE star was a mystery opponent for Sabre Jr., taking Bryan Danielson’s place after last week’s Dynamite brought news that the ‘American Dragon’ was injured and unable to compete.

AEW president and founder Tony Khan elaborated on what he originally had in mind for Castagnoli’s debut during the post-Forbidden Door media scrum. As transcribed by Fightful, after learning Claudio was interested in becoming All Elite on 2 June, Khan felt that if Danielson was cleared to compete at Forbidden Door, his new stablemate would likely come in for ROH Death Before Dishonor on 23 July:

“It was the day after the Forum, so June 2, I called and had interest, there was definitely mutual interest. At that point, I felt there was a good chance. I wasn’t sure if it would be here or another thing or Death Before Dishonor, July 23, on pay-per-view in Lowell, Massachusetts. Ring of Honor’s return event. I figured there was a chance that if Bryan made it back, there was a good chance that he would have started at Death Before Dishonor and it would have been a great moment there. As long as Bryan is okay, that’s the most important thing.”

The Zack Sabre Jr. clash was Claudio’s first match since February, when he surprisingly left WWE following his contract’s expiration.

This week’s Dynamite sees Castagnoli link up with Jon Moxley, Wheeler Yuta, Eddie Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz to face the entire Jericho Appreciation Society in Blood and Guts.

In his short time working with AEW, Wheeler Yuta has been part of two different factions in AEW: Best Friends and the Blackpool Combat Club.

During a signing with K & S WrestleFest, Yuta discussed transitioning from the Best Friends faction to the BCC, led by William Regal.

“Chuck Taylor, Orange Cassidy, like they’re my friends in real life, I’ve known those dudes for years,” Yuta said. “It kind of felt like, ‘Alright, I’m in this big position, like it was still huge for me to do that’. But it was like, ‘This is huge, but it’s with my friends like I’m in my comfort zone’. When [BCC] started to happen it’s like, ‘This is, alright, this is a step up’… it was definitely a big step up. It was like a light switch.”

Yuta started out in AEW as a friend of the Best Friends faction, which included Kris Statlander, Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor, and Trent Beretta. Yuta, nor Best Friends, had any success with the alliance, and eventually, Beretta and Yuta had a falling out, resulting in Yuta no longer being associated with Best Friends. The two former stablemates have not had a singles match in AEW to date.

Following his time with Best Friends, Yuta joined the Blackpool Combat Club, a group that consisted of Former WWE and AEW World Champion Jon Moxley and former WWE Champion Bryan Danielson. The group is also led by William Regal, who worked as an in-ring performer from 1986 until 2013, and served as the General Manager for “NXT” from 2014 until his release in January of 2022.

Yuta did not get a free invitation into the group, however, as he first had to go through a match with Danielson on the March 30th edition of “AEW: Dynamite” where Yuta fell short to the American Dragon, losing by referee’s decision after about 10 minutes of hard-hitting back and forth action. Yuta wasn’t done earning the respect of the former world champions there as he took on Moxley a week and two days later on “AEW: Rampage” in a brutal match that saw Yuta bleed.

Following the match against Moxley, Danielson, Regal, and Moxley welcomed Yuta into the BCC as Yuta spelled BCC on his chest with his own blood.

Not many segments in WWE history are more iconic than Edge and Lita’s live sex celebration.

During ‘Stories with Brisco and Bradshaw‘, former WWE Writer Christopher DeJoseph recalled how the live sex celebration was brought into existence.

“Edge had just won the title from John Cena and cashed in the Money in the Bank. We were in a meeting with Vince and he said, ‘Well what would you do if you won the title and you’re Edge?’ and I said, ‘I would have sex with my girlfriend in the middle of the ring for everybody to see’,” DeJoseph stated. “So that’s kind of how that live sex celebration thing happened.”

Edge won his first world championship in WWE by defeating John Cena at “New Year’s Revolution” 2006 with the Money in the Bank contract for the WWE Championship. The Rated-R Superstar was the first to hold the Money in the Bank briefcase, defeating five other men at “WrestleMania 21” in the Money in the Bank ladder match to win.

The next night on “Monday Night Raw,” Edge and Lita celebrated Edge’s WWE Championship win by having sex in a bed in the middle of a WWE ring. The celebration may have been a bit premature, however, because only 20 days after their fun on TV, Edge lost the title back to John Cena at “Royal Rumble” 2006. Edge would go on to win 10 more World Championships following this first victory. Edge has also won the Intercontinental Championship five times and the Tag Team Championships 14 times.

Christopher DeJoseph revealed who were his favorite wrestlers to write for while working with WWE.

“I had a lot of fun writing for Jeff Hardy, to be honest with you,” DeJoseph said. “… I loved writing for Vickie and Edge. I had so much writing for them when they were a team together.”

Vickie and Edge were an on-screen pairing from 2007 until 2008 and Edge feuded with Jeff Hardy, whom DeJoseph mentioned, in 2009. The two had history, with both of them taking part in the historic TLC matches involving the Hardys, the Dudleys, and Edge & Christian about a decade prior.

Cody Rhodes recently had his pectoral muscle repaired after a graphic injury left it torn and hanging off the bone. Rhodes infamously decided to wrestle a Hell In A Cell match with the injury, and it seems his intestinal fortitude has made an impression on fans, as well as WWE.

In this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer says that Cody is currently scheduled to be away from WWE programming for 9 months, but that many expect it to be much less. Meltzer notes that January’s Royal Rumble is being eyed as a potential return date, with the popular 2nd generation star’s return thought to be a selling point of the show. The Newsletter also states that WWE filmed Cody’s surgery, and will likely use it in future promotional packages, as they’ve done for numerous injured WWE superstars.

If the idea of a triumphant return from injury at the Royal Rumble sounds familiar, that is apparently intentional. Meltzer says that current thoughts are to give Rhodes the same promotion that the company gave Triple H in 2002. Triple H suffered a torn quadricep in a tag title match, which saw the “Cerebral Assassin” fight through the injury alongside Steve Austin against Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit.

Triple H’s return from that injury was met with great ceremony. The former-WWE Champion was hyped up with numerous vignettes of his rehabilitation, set to U2’s “Beautiful Day,” leading to a January 2002 return at Madison Square Garden that is still lauded as one of the louder celebrations in WWE history. Triple H went on to win the Royal Rumble and then defeat Chris Jericho for the then-WWF Undisputed Championship at WrestleMania X8.

If Meltzer is echoing WWE’s own sentiments with the comment about Rhodes getting the same treatment as Triple H, it would further cement claims that WWE sees the former AEW Executive Vice President as a marquee talent.

AEW’s Jake Roberts admitted via his ‘DDP Snake Pit’ podcast that he’s “frustrated” to see on-screen buddy Lance Archer “in the spot that he’s in”.

Former TNT Title challenger Archer hasn’t wrestled a singles match on flagship show Dynamite since losing to Wardlow in just five minutes on the 27 April edition. His last win on the ‘A’ show came way back on 19 January (over Frankie Kazarian).

Roberts called Lance a “phenomenal athlete” who has “an unbelievable look”. That’s why it’s confusing the ex-WWE legend that his client isn’t smashing it on TV weekly. Jake did also relent that “the only thing Lance doesn’t do really well is talk”, but said that’s why Tony Khan brought him into the company.

Things haven’t been going well lately though.

It’s interesting to hear Roberts openly criticise All Elite’s booking this way on his pod. He’s clearly annoyed that Archer hasn’t been featured more prominently on TV, or been picking up many wins. The ‘Murderhawk Monster’ last worked a meaningful one-on-one vs. Hangman Page on the 9 February Dynamite.

He’s been picking up some independent bookings since, and also appearing mainly on Dark.

WWE star Alexa Bliss has told ‘The Residency‘ podcast that she gets “very bored” and loves “not knowing what [she’s] doing tomorrow”. That, according to Bliss, is why she gets on so well with the company’s creative process.

When asked to clarify just how far in advance WWE stories are mapped out, Alexa said: “Not very far”. She finds that “fascinating” though, because it lets her tweak certain aspects of her work depending on how live crowds respond in arenas – Bliss isn’t locked in to a certain direction, basically, and she likes that freedom.

“I don’t like getting comfortable with one character”, she added.

This would explain why Alexa’s on-screen persona has been erratic over the past few years. She’s gone from a coffee-drinking talk show host to Bray Wyatt’s possessed minion (and, eventually, the ‘Fiend’s’ destroyer) and back again.

Bliss told the pod that “you have to adapt”. If fans don’t like something, then she won’t keep doing it. However, if they respond to something off the cuff, then Alexa makes mental notes to keep pressing those buttons during her matches/promos.

“Mentally, I get very bored” is how she summed it up.

The Hardy Boyz were initially set to become AEW World Tag Team Champions before Jeff Hardy’s recent suspension.

This is according to Bryan Alvarez, who noted that this was very much the intention of All Elite Wrestling management before plans changed upon news of Hardy’s need for a brain scan. Speaking about it on the Brian & Vinny Show, he said;

“The idea was the Hardys were going to win the tag titles in this ladder match, that was the plan for awhile. Apparently, at the pay-per-view when the Hardys and the Bucks had their match, Jeff was not looking good. Apparently, they examined him afterwards and he was all beat up and he didn’t remember the match. Remember when Jeff got pulled over and said he was on his way to a brain scan? He was on his way to a brain scan. So, his idea was to drink whatever he drank and then drive to his brain scan. They had advertised the ladder match. He was never actually going to be in the ladder match. They were going to do the angle where he and Matt were going to be coming out for the ladder match, they were going to be jumped on the ramp and they were going to be carted off and they weren’t actually going to do the match. So, whether he had his DUI or not, Jeff was never going to do that ladder match. It was always going to be Jurassic Express vs. the Young Bucks for the tag team titles with the Young Bucks winning.”

Obviously none of the above eventually went ahead following Hardy’s latest DUI, other than the revised plot to have The Young Bucks win the belts. Jeff has no set return date yet, with AEW confirming that his comeback could only occur following the completion of treatment and maintenance of sobriety.

Toni Storm hasn’t been shy of sharing her thoughts on her WWE exit since leaving the promotion in late 2021 and signing for AEW in March of this year, though this new interview on The Sessions with Renee Paquette might be her most headline-worthy yet.

Storm, who was called up from NXT to SmackDown in July 2021, told Paquette that wrestling on Raw or SmackDown had always been her goal. It didn’t take her long to realise that this wasn’t going to work out, however, with main roster life making her miserable (h/t Cageside Seats):

“My main goal in wrestling was to be on RAW or SmackDown, main roster WWE TV. Then I got there and figured it out pretty soon, I realized this is just not going to work out. Also, I’m 26. — I want to have a really good time at this job. I want to have a really good career and I want to enjoy part of it. I just wasn’t enjoying it for so long and I abruptly quit. I woke up that morning having no idea that I was going to quit by that night. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. A lot of people don’t enjoy it at all. For some people it just works out and for others — it just makes them miserable. I guess I just fell into that category. I guess it just wasn’t for me at that point.”

Continuing, Toni spoke on WWE’s swooping rounds of roster cuts, which have become a habit since the COVID-19 pandemic’s March 2020 inception.

“Let’s face it. They just fire people left, right, and center out of the blue. I could be fired next week and then it’s like, ‘What’s the point?’ It just got very pointless to be honest. It’s been hard to convey that, especially to fans, especially to people that just aren’t in this business, and will never understand. I must sound ridiculous to those people, but it’s the reality of what it’s actually like.”

The AEW newcomer then stressed that she wasn’t upset with how she was booked in WWE, nor was she angry with the company in general:

“I’m not mad about the booking. I certainly don’t want to bury it. I don’t want to say bad things about the place. I think I had a great time there for the most part… I’m not mad. I’m not angry at WWE. I don’t have anything against them. I’m sure they got bigger fish to fry than me. You know what I mean? Like, why do they care? People get let go from that place constantly. People move around constantly. It doesn’t matter if I’m there, but what matters is I’m not having a very good time, and why shouldn’t I be having a good time?”

But after what she called a long, complicated ordeal, Storm no longer wanted to work for a promotion that “didn’t give a shit.” She realised, in the end, that even though WWE’s main roster used to be her goal, she loves wrestling itself more than any specific company:

“It was a complicated ordeal. I had built up frustrations with the place for a very long time, like a lot of people do. They don’t give a shit, so why should I? This isn’t going to work. I know what’s going to happen here. I’m just going to be sent back to catering again. I’m not going to succeed here, I can just see it. I know they see me as I’m such a kid and I’m such a newbie and this that and the other, but I like to think that I’ve been around wrestling long enough to know — I just know what’s right and what’s wrong for me and what I like and what I don’t like and I just didn’t like it in the end. I didn’t feel that appreciated. And I just felt like they, at times, didn’t have very much respect for me. I feel like over time they just crushed my love for wrestling, it just wasn’t even wrestling anymore. You’re not even allowed to say wrestling. I thought my whole purpose in life was to go to WWE but then over time I realized it’s just pro wrestling that I love, it’s not a company that I love.”

Storm was granted her WWE release soon after requesting it in December 2021. “Burnout” was reported as the reason behind the move, which Toni has now elaborated on.

Sasha Banks’ backstage discontent in WWE goes further back than her and tag team partner Naomi’s walkout from last week’s episode of Raw.

Per Dave Meltzer on a recent episode of Wrestling Observer Radio, Banks had become “mad” with the promotion ahead of WrestleMania 38, having been pulled from a scheduled SmackDown Women’s Championship program with title-holder Charlotte Flair in favour of Ronda Rousey.

Meltzer stated that Banks vs. Flair had been in the works for months. When WWE learned that Rousey was going to be available earlier than anticipated, they decided to give her Sasha’s ‘Mania spot, perceiving her as the bigger star. After telling Banks this, WWE came up with the idea of her and Naomi capturing the Women’s Tag Team Championships at WM38 as something of a concession for moving down the card.

Rousey ended up being defeated by Flair at WrestleMania 38 before capturing the SmackDown strap at WrestleMania Backlash the following month. Sasha and Naomi, meanwhile, became Tag Team Champions on ‘Mania’s Sunday show, holding the titles until they were formally stripped on last week’s episode of SmackDown.

Along with Naomi, Banks’ WWE future remains up in the air following the duo’s decision to leave last week’s Raw during the broadcast.