Posts Tagged ‘WWE Brand Extension’

The Viking Raiders returned to WWE TV with a bang on Friday’s SmackDown.

Erik and Ivar attacked New Day members Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods as the pair danced in-ring with Shanky. This, seemingly, signifies the Viking pair’s first heel turn on the main roster – it’s long overdue. The Raiders have been spinning their wheels for far too long since first jumping up from NXT in April 2019.

They’ve been going through a rinse and repeat series of mini-pushes that ultimately go nowhere, and that became tedious. Now, as heels, they’ll hopefully start to dominate the division and work their way back towards those now-Unified Tag-Team straps.

This was a good start.

A few matches against New Day should help prep The Viking Raiders for a title tilt whenever WWE decides to stip the belts from fellow heels The Usos. Alternatively, wouldn’t it be something different if the company decided to cast Erik and Ivar as cold wrecking machines who don’t care who they have to mow down?

The Raiders could certainly do with exorcising the demons of that flopped feud with Jimmy and Jey from earlier this year.

WWE’s value has dropped from $4.995 billion to $4.485 billion.

Obviously, that’s still a staggering amount of money, but the company’s overall value has gone down 10.21% since reports surfaced in The Wall Street Journal alleging sexual misconduct from Vince McMahon towards a female employee.

That 10.21% equates to $510 million.

IndieWire also reported that some metrics have actually gone up for the promotion. This past week’s editions of Raw and SmackDown, for example, had higher ratings for some segments than WWE has experienced lately. That, of course, could have something to do with the ongoing controversy.

WWE announced McMahon for last Friday’s SmackDown ahead of time, but they kept his showing on Raw under wraps until it happened.

The company’s value fell from $4.995 billion to $4.823 billion within 24 hours of allegations surfacing against Vince and John Laurinaitis. By Friday, that number had dropped to $4.647 billion, and it continued to plummet towards the $4.485 billion figure.

It’ll be interesting to see if things stabilise soon, or if that number will keep dropping. WWE definitely won’t see it as a plus that value has gone down over $500m, that’s for sure.

Kurt Angle says he will never wrestle again after undergoing serious knee replacement surgery on both legs.

The WWE Hall Of Famer told the ‘Two Man Power Trip Of Wrestling‘ podcast that he decided to get work done on both knees so he wasn’t “destabilised” – regardless, he’s still “in a lot of pain”. Kurt just didn’t want to worry about going under the knife a second time later in life.

Angle has always been coy when asked if he’d fancy pulling on the boots for one more match. He’s never kept it a secret that he didn’t really enjoy his last hurrah in WWE. The company picked Baron Corbin as Kurt’s final opponent at WrestleMania 35 in 2019, which didn’t sit well with the legend or his fans.

Going out on a six-minute loss to a worker that had nothing to do with Angle’s iconic career didn’t sit well, but it’ll be his last in-ring showing.

Physically, Kurt can’t go anymore. The double knee surgery has also given him the chance to walk relatively pain-free someday. That wouldn’t be the case if he “messed” them up by bumping around.

Ronda Rousey recently spoke with Kurt Angle on The Kurt Angle Show about her transition from MMA to Pro Wrestling, and how wrestling’s predetermined nature helps keep Rousey’s mind at ease.

During the conversation, Rousey talked about how she’s not afraid of injuries in pro wrestling, as “injuries happen in everything.” She felt that the transition from MMA to wrestling was much easier, saying that there was “a lot less pressure.”

“Pre-determined winner,” Angle responded. “That’s got to help a lot,” his co-host continued.

“It really does help a lot,” Rousey said of pro wrestling, “and I don’t think pro wrestlers understand how much that it helps because a lot of times I’ll hear people be so offended that like, ‘How dare you call this fake! There’s no fake way to go through a table,’” Rousey continued, “or ‘This injury is real.’ And I’m like, ‘You guys, it’s not like the physical toll that makes something real.’”

“The injuries don’t enter into your mind,” Rousey said of her time in MMA. “It’s the anxiety and uncertainty of the result,” that makes the situation real, as opposed to the predetermined outcome of a pro-wrestling match.

Rousey’s focus on the result over the physical toll certainly helped her in the worlds of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and The UFC. The UFC Hall of Famer was a one-time Women’s Bantamweight Champion, as well as a bronze medalist at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

“Imagine if you didn’t win that gold medal, Kurt, and what that would have done to you for the rest of your life,” Rousey continued, “That is what makes it real to me.”

“Injuries, I don’t care. People get injured all the time playing ‘Pirates of Penzance,’” Rousey said, emphasizing the theatrical nature of her current profession, while also acknowledging the dangers of everyday life. “There’s a lot of difficult, physical things out there that the realism to me is that extreme anxiety.”

As of this writing, WWE is now under investigation from five different law firms.

Originally reported as three firms by Mike Johnson over at PWInsider, Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics has an update that the number of legal companies currently looking into WWE now stands at five. The firms looking to take class action against Vince McMahon’s promotion are Scott+Scott, Rosen Law Firm, Schall Law Firm, Bragel Eagel & Squire, and Labaton Sucharow.

These investigations are in regards to WWE potentially violating federal securities laws.

To quote the Schall Law Firm – which mirrors the sentiments of the other aforementioned legal organisations – this pertains to:

The investigation focuses on whether the Company issued false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose information pertinent to investors. WWE is the the subject of a June 15, 2022, article in the Wall Street Journal titled: “WWE Board Probes Secret $3 Million Hush Pact by CEO Vince McMahon, Sources Say.” According to the article, the Company’s board “is investigating a secret $3 million settlement that longtime chief executive Vince McMahon agreed to pay to a departing employee with whom he allegedly had an affair, according to documents and people familiar with the board inquiry.” The article continues, “the board’s investigation, which began in April, has unearthed other, older nondisclosure agreements involving claims by former female WWE employees of misconduct by Mr. McMahon and one of his top executives, John Laurinaitis, the head of talent relations at WWE, the people said.” On June 17, 2022, the Company issued a press release stating, “a Special Committee of the Board is conducting an investigation into alleged misconduct by its Chairman and CEO Vincent McMahon and John Laurinaitis, head of talent relations, and that, effective immediately, McMahon has voluntarily stepped back from his responsibilities as CEO and Chairman of the Board until the conclusion of the investigation.”

All law firms investigating this have encouraged any shareholders impacted by these recent events to get in touch with them.

Of course, in the aftermath of these allegations being made public last week, Vince McMahon opted to make rare appearances on this past Friday’s SmackDown and last night’s Raw. Coming across to the majority of watching audiences as tone deaf at best, and egotistically arrogant at worst, these appearances saw McMahon do a whole lot of nothing while seemingly doing his best to show that it’s very much business as usual for Vince and WWE.

As mentioned above, a company statement announced that McMahon has stepped away from CEO and Chairman responsibilities while the WWE board’s investigation takes place, but Vince is still very much in control of the promotion’s creative direction.

Former WWE Champion Bobby Lashley joins his former ‘The Hurt Business’ faction members in the newest episode of WWE “Table For 3”, now available to stream on the Peacock Network.

During the conversation, Lashley explained how the presentation of three successful, classy black athletes during their runs made an impact on children watching at home.

“We were able to give our audience a different look at black talent because, before, it was always like you had to be militant, or dancing, or you had to be this or that. I was like, ‘No, man. All of us make good money. We carry ourselves in a certain way so we don’t have to be thugs, we don’t have to be this, we don’t have to be that,’ we can show kids such as my son and kids growing up that these three black athletes that are very talented, they can do anything else, but at the same time, they’re not a thug, they’re not tap dancing, they’re not doing any of this.

“We’re dressing nice and that was one thing we made sure that we did all the time is come as the character that we wanted to be which was professionals; that’s where the ‘business’ part came into it. I loved everything about it and I think it transcended so many different areas that we want, that we got locked into, and I think so many people saw that. I got a couple messages on Instagram, they took pictures of their son like, ‘My son went in the closet, put on a little suit after he saw you.’ That’s incredible, that made me feel good.”

The stable, originally formed in the Summer of 2020, was generally well-received by the pro wrestling world during its initial run. However, it took WWE less than a year before they decided to break the group up and go in a new direction. 

The group would later reunite on the September 27, 2021, episode of WWE “Raw”. But after less than 4 months back together, on the January 10, 2022, episode of the Red Brand, Bobby Lashley told Alexander and Benjamin that he now worked alone, once again breaking up the group. Later that night, the duo of Alexander and Benjamin would attack Lashley, confirming MVP and Lashley’s departure and dissolving the team into separate entities.

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.

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.

Having not been seen on WWE programming since a vicious beatdown from the Bloodline on the 20 May episode of SmackDown, it could well be that Randy Orton won’t be back in action until next year.

While this is far from set in stone at this stage, Fightful Select reports there is a genuine fear that Orton will miss the rest of 2022 due to ongoing back issues.

The belief is the Viper has been suffering with a back injury for a while now, and he actually had some work done on on his back ahead of the aforementioned SmackDown match that saw Orton and Riddle lose to the Usos in a Tag Team Unification contest. Of course, that bout was followed by a post-match attack that was done to write Randy off TV.

Fightful adds how Randal Keith’s back issues have gotten worse to the point that he may have to undergo surgery. If that indeed happens, a WWE source told the outlet that Orton will miss the rest of the year. As such, the 14-time World Champion is not being factored into current creative plans, despite originally being scheduled to have a major role to play this summer – with it rumoured that it would be Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns at this year’s SummerSlam.

Until any surgery takes place, there’s still a chance that Orton will be back in action in some form or fashion later this year. For now, though, WWE is expected to move forward creatively without the future Hall of Famer in mind.

The mystery surrounding the potential departure of Sasha Banks from WWE has deepened; Banks herself appears to have rubbished Raj Giri’s report of her being released on an Instagram story, but Andrew Zarian of the Mat Men podcast was able to confirm that her “attorneys” were working towards it.

Zarian has also confirmed WWE’s feelings on the matter in the event of her exit actually happening. Apparently, the promotion is under the belief that they “clone” her.

Long-time fans of WWE will know the practise to which Zarian is referring; WWE has attempted to “clone” The Rock several times over the years by promoting the likes of Seth Rollins in 2019 as a stand-up comedian of sorts.

“In their minds, they could clone Sasha with somebody else and have her fit that role, and no problem. It is now a role you are playing,” Zarian explained. He elaborated by revealing that most WWE talents, with the exception of the Brock Lesnar, Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns types, are perceived as “mid-level actors”.

Cloning Sasha should be a doddle; all they need to do is pick somebody, anybody, because any wrestler will do for the role of a generational talent who remains the highest-drawing figure of WWE’s post-March 2020 pandemic era.