Updates on Injured Superstars and the return of Hulk Hogan

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Summer Slam is fast approaching. Before the weekend, updates on a few Superstars who have been in the injured list for months were revealed.

 

  • Charlotte Flair, who had cosmetic surgery plans to return at the end of the month.
  • Kane’s injury is Kayfabe (He wasn’t really injured) and was WWE’s way of writing him off TV. As a reminder, Glenn Jacobs (Kane in WWE) is running for mayor of his hometown Knox County, Tennessee. Even though everyone in his hometown knows he’s a WWE superstar and many WWE fans know he’s running for mayor, WWE needed to write him out of TV for those who may not know more or less. His recent return to WWE leading up to Extreme Rules was expected to be brief and this way, the door is open for a return down the road.
  • Jason Jordan will return “When it is storyline appropriate”, meaning he is cleared to return. My guess is he will first feud with Baron Corbin, then reunite with Chad Gable to reform American Alpha on RAW. The two were split up to build them separately. Although neither won a title after being separated, the obvious mega push Jason Jordan got as RAW GM Kurt Angle’s Kayfabe son clearly failed to help get him Over. Chad Gable, who was paired with Shelton Benjamin on Smackdown Live after Jason Jordan was moved to RAW made the switch himself as part of the Superstar Shakeup after Wrestlemania.
  • Dean Ambrose is expected to return at the end of the summer. Ambrose tore his left tricep in January, leaving Roman Reigns as the only Shield member yet to miss Wrestlemania due to injury. Seth Rollins was forced to miss Wrestlemania 32 due to injury.
  • Jeff Hardy’s attacks from Randy Orton this week is clearly setting the stage for his exit so he can focus on the injury he was been working with for the last few months. He avoided using the Swanton Bomb in Live Shows because of it as well.

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As folks have heard by now, Terry Bollea– more commonly known by his wrestling name, Hulk Hogan–was just reinstated into the WWE Hall of Fame. The Hulkster was suspended from WWE three years ago. Almost to the day. I broke the news here back then.

2018 WWE Hall of Fame Inductee Mark Henry revealed in interviews since Hogan’s reinstatement the reported apology he previously said Hogan would have to do say to the current roster happened in the locker room before the start of Extreme Rules. After he apologized, which everyone saw was clearly sincere and remorseful, he issued a warning based on his situation that they be careful what they say publicly because they they might be recorded and don’t know it.

That’s what happened to him though I am not trying to excuse what he said. He didn’t know the racially inflammatory comments he’d made–comments he made 8 years before he was suspended–had been recorded at the time he made them. Those comments got him exiled from WWE in 2015. The suspension was a statement that no one, not even Hogan was untouchable.

Although the Hulkster clearly missed the money, more than that he spoke to Mark Henry about how his life changed when word of what he said spread and how people looked at him afterward. That bothered him more than anything and unsurprisingly, Mark Henry offered to personally help him rebuild he reputation.

While it’s not known yet who reached out first, i would not be surprised at all if it’s revealed Mark Henry had a role in Hogan’s reinstatement. He has been pushing for Owen Hart (died in a freak accident during a WWE PPV in 1998) and Chyna (died from a drug overdose in 2016) being inducted into the Hall of Fame for some time as well.

According to Mark Henry, the Black Superstars are 50/50 on Hogan’s reinstatement (!). It’s not like they don’t know about what he said, mind you. They can also separate that from him being the face of WWE during the 1980s. Overall, most WWE Superstars–and I mean in general–hold themselves to very high standards compared to Hogan’s heyday. They do so much outside the squared circle so…yeah. If one of them said it, that would’ve been career suicide.

 

In the 48 hours since Hogan’s reinstatement, The New Day answered requests for comment with this lengthy statement posted by Kofi Kingston via Twitter:

“To the WWE Universe and whoever else it may concern:

This will be the only statement we will make regarding Hogan’s reinstatement into WWE’s Hall Of Fame. We do not wish to spend the energy debating the point, because between our kids, our external values, and this job, our energy is spread thin enough already, lol.

We are only writing this simply to provide an answer to the many who have bombarded us with questions on where we stand on the issue.

We preface this statement by emphasizing that this is our own opinion and may not necessarily reflect the opinion of anyone else affected.

How do we feel? Indifferent. We are not happy, or sad, angry or resentful. Who WWE puts into the HOF is totally and completely up to the company and from a career standpoint, there is no argument on whether or not Hogan should have his place. We have no problem with his re-induction in the slightest degree. It is impossible to even begin to mention the history and evolution of the business without mentioning his name and accolades.

On a personal level, when someone makes racist and hateful comments about any race or group of people, especially to the degree that Hogan made about our people, we find it difficult to simply forget, regardless of how long ago it was, or the situation in which those comments were made. But we also do not respond with more feelings of hate. Instead, we just do not associate with the people who convey or have conveyed this negative and hurtful mindset. This instance will be no different. Perhaps if we see him make a genuine effort to change, then maybe our opinion will change with him. Time will tell.

Through the course of our lives, people have used racial comments towards us and it doesn’t feel good. But if we stopped moving forward everytime we were met with prejudicial hatred, then we would have never achieved our current accomplishments.

We know we are worth it, we know our kids are worth it, and most importantly, we know that people that look like us are worth it and always have been. There isn’t a person on this planet who will be ever be able to say anything to make us think otherwise because we believe in ourselves as a people and don’t need anyones approval on that, regardless of who they are.

Having said that, his reinstatement won’t change anything for us. It will have zero effect on our ability to perform or the level of effort we put into doing what we love to do, and that is: To deliver an entertaining product each week for our fan base.

Sincerely,

-The New Day

“Never trade authenticity for approval.”

The neutral reaction matches up with most of the opinions voiced by Black Superstars at the news of Hogan’s reinstatement. Most are more interested in seeing Hogan back up his words with action. Not that they’re personally interested. They would like to see him back up his words with action is all.

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Updates on Injured Superstars and the return of Hulk Hogan

WWE appears to be moving to book Brock Lesnar to drop the Universal Title at Summer Slam

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For those who missed the news last weekend, Brock Lesnar is officially booked to compete in UFC–and for a title–later this year. He will face Daniel “DC” Cormier for the UFC Heavyweight title on November 23 at UFC 230.

As everyone knows, Lesnar is the current Universal Champion (he didn’t have it with him at the UFC Event he attended). WWE has clearly been waiting for Lesnar to commit to be booked in a UFC match and for it to become official more or less. Lesnar was not booked for Summer Slam but that is clearly changed now that he is booked for a UFC. There is comfirmation Paul Heyman will be working backstage on the RAW after Extreme Rules. My guess is he will cut a promo regarding Lesnar to build for Summer Slam.

It is very likely the winner of Reigns vs. Lashley will face Lesnar for the Universal Championship at Summer Slam. Lashley getting the win, then getting cashed in on by Braun Strowman could work and more so given you could still book Reigns vs. Dre McIntyre at Summer Slam at the same time. The more likely scenario though is Reigns wins at Extreme Rules and then gets cashed in on by Strowman after (finally) beating Lesnar.

I am assuming the latter is how things will play out but we will still have to wait and see.

WWE appears to be moving to book Brock Lesnar to drop the Universal Title at Summer Slam

Moonwalk DDT!!!

..You read that right.

IIf you haven’t seen the video yet…here:

 

No, that’s not Michael Jackson himself. The real King of Pop himself has been dead for 9 years now. It’s YouTube User Santana Jackson, who is a popular Michael Jackson cosplayer and also an indie wrestler. I first learned of the video when it was shared by Bleacher Report last night.

The Moonwalk DDT combines elements of the actual Moonwalk and Dean Ambrose’s version of the DDT, Dirty Deeds. He even remembers to do the Toe Stand at the end before tagging out.

Here’s some video of Michael Jackson doing the Moonwalk. You don’t need to watch the entire video.

And in case you’re interested in learning how to do it, here:

To provide a short history lesson, The Moonwalk was originally called the Reverse Back Slide and actually predates Michael Jackson.

Here’s video proof:

Before I continue, for those who are wondering Michael Jackson did not “steal” the Moonwalk and as you can see, several people use it in these videos. The first known recording of someone performing the Moonwalk in front of a crowd took place in the Apollo Theater in 1955. Michael Jackson was born almost 10 years later. It predates him. He never takes credit for inventing it. He simply enhanced it and usually tries to incorporate all known variations of it in his live shows.

Anywho, the point of the Moonwalk itself is to give the illusion that you are moving forward when you are actually moving backwards. Michael Jackson perfected that and that is why it became such an iconic dance move. Even though it’s obvious that he is moving backward, he is using forward-moving motions while doing it. In other words, an optical illusion.

…But wait. “What does any of this have to do with WWE?” That’s what you’re thinking by now I’m sure. “It’s not like there’s someone who Moonwalks though.”, right?

Actually, yes there is:

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The current Smackdown Women’s Champion Carmella.

Here’s her Smackdown Debut:

She Moonwalks as part of her Entrance and also does it as a taunt. She could definitely use the Moonwalk DDT as a finisher and get Over with the WWE Universe while still a Heel.

Moonwalk DDT!!!

RAW and Smackdown are building momentum going into Summer Slam

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That’s the best way to describe what’s happening on both brands. Lots of things have been happening and will happen between now and Summer Slam. Here’s the bulk of stuff I am aware of so far.

 

  • Most assumed this but the real reason Daniel Bryan was left ouf the the Money in the Bank Ladder Match was to protect his neck. Serious injury is far higher in a ladder match than the traditional match he was booked in at the PPV just to make sure he was on the card. WWE learned from what happened to Edge and Paige so…yeah.
  • The Bar hasn’t been seen on Smackdown Live at all in recent months but it’s because they have working live shows full time. This appears to be a trial period and superstars will be periodically swapped in and out of RAW or Smackdown to just do Live Shows.
  • Sami Zayn is taking some time off to recover from a nagging shoulder injury he’s been competing with. Zayn delayed taking time off to face Bobby Lashley at Money in the Bank.
  • Bray Wyatt was injured in a traffic accident lat Friday. It was severe enough to cause him to miss RAW but all signs point to him being cleared in time to join Matt Hardy in their tag team match vs. The B-Team.
  • The reason Jeff Hardy’s originally scheduled match with Shinsuke Nakamura was changed to an Open Challenge is because Nakamura suffered a minor lower leg injury in a freak accident involving a police dog backstage. The injury was severe enough to take him off the card and he is using crutches. It was obvious in the promo he did this week that he was sitting and likely had his crutches just out of view. He is expected to be cleared to compete at Extreme Rules though.
  • Speaking of Jeff Hardy. The current U.S. Champion himself has been wresting with a sprained ankle. He is clearly being set up to drop the belt soon so he can focus on rehabing his injury.
  • Glenn Jacobs–Kane in WWE–is the Republican candidate running for Mayor in Knoxx County, Tennessee. The 51 year old superstar turned politician has been doing exceptionally well thanks in no small part to the help of current and former superstars who have campaigned on his behalf. He recently returned to WWE again to team up with Daniel Bryan on Smackdown Live. His Democratic rival Linda Haney has been critical of The Big Red Monster continuing to wrestle during the campaign.
  • Daniel Bryan (real name Bryan Danielson) dropped some hints he may leave WWE after all. In a recent interview, he revealed he is looking to work a significantly reduced schedule so he can spend more time with his family. The former Smackdown Commissioner was medically cleared by WWE to return to in-ring competition in February, shocking and thrilling everyone. D-Bry has been strictly doing traditional matches since his return, clearly to protect his neck. In the months before he was cleared by WWE, there were rumors he would look to compete in Ring of Honor (ROH) when his contract expires later this year. It looks more likely that he will switch to a part-time schedule. Giving him “Free Agent” status–the ability to work both brands–would be good and he would have alot of flexability in terms of scheduling.
  • Speaking of Team Hell No. Dr. Shelby, who helped them overcome their differences the last time they teamed up is back. This time, he has been tasked with helping Sasha Banks and Bayley repair their broken friendship. WWE recently filed a trademark for the character, who is played by Michael Aspinwall likely as a precaution to protect the character moving forward.
  • Since I mentioned Free Agents. Chris Jericho, John Cena, Kane and The Undertaker are the four most prolific Superstars with Free Agent Status. ‘Taker, Jericho and Cena last competed at The Greatest Royal Rumble PPV in Saudi Arabia back in April. ‘Taker faced Rusev in a Casket Match while Cena and Triple H opened the show. Jericho competed in the Greatest Royal Rumble match. Kane just returned on Smackdown Live and will likely be around at least until Extreme Rules.

 

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Based on the recent news, speculation is rampant Cena originally proposed to Nikki at Wrestlemania 33 as a publicity stunt. After they suddenly broke up earlier this year, he realized he really did love her. The timing of the breakup was kinda bad as it happened just before the Greatest Royal Rumble PPV in April. He indirectly referenced the breakup in some comments after his match with Triple H, thanking fans for their continued support.

When promos for the current season of Total Bellas started airing on TV, it was after the breakup had gone viral. I have noticed in recent weeks that the promos have changed a bit to reflect recent developments in their relationship.

The two are back together now. Cena expressed remorse over the breakup and is in the process of getting his Vasectomy reversed. Nikki’s dream was to have kids of her own and that was a point of tension between them: She wanted kids and he didn’t. Cena got the Vasectomy after his first marriage and made it clear from the beginning he had no interest in having kids. Clearly those feelings have changed and more so given Brie recently had a baby herself.

I do think both Brie and Nikki will return later this year though. Weather it’s together or as a Tag Team remains to be seen.

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In a recent interview, 2018 WWE Hall of Famer Bill Goldberg stated The Undertaker and Roman Reigns are the two superstars he’d like to get in the ring with “and no one else”. All three were in the ring at the same time during the 2017 Royal Rumble. Goldberg eliminated Lesnar while Reigns eliminated ‘Taker to set up their matches at Wrestlemania 33.

A showdown between Reigns and Goldberg was teased on RAW as seen above before they were interrupted by Rusev. The potential is certainly there. It’s a matter of when and how the matches are set up to me. Goldberg vs. Taker would be Wrestlemania-level to say the least but it would make more sense to have Goldberg vs. Reigns later in the year.

 

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RAW and Smackdown are building momentum going into Summer Slam

Ronda Rousey inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame; The latest Brock Lesnar Rumors

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…Most folks realize this now but Rousey’s 30-day suspension from RAW is a work. What most didn’t know is Ronda Rousey would become the first woman inducted into UFC’s Hall of Fame.

Rousey, 31retired from UFC and MMA in 2016 after her two knockout losses to Holly Holm (ended her 12-0 win streak) and Amanda Nunes. She was prettymuch done with MMA at that point and spent most of 2017 negotiating with WWE for a contract.  Her return to UFC for her induction into the UFC Hall of Fame was viewed by fans of her MMA career as a final sendoff.

Although she made several appearances last year–mostly in support of her friend (and current NXT Women’s Champion) Shayna Baszler–Rousey officially debuted in WWE at the 2018 Royal Rumble. She has so far participated in two matches. She teamed up with Kurt Angle to face Stephanie McMahon and Triple H at Wrestlemania 43, which they won. Her first official singles match took place at the Money in the Bank PPV where she faced Nia Jaxx for the RAW Women’s Championship. Alexa Bliss, who won the Money in the Bank briefcase cashed it in ro win the title and indirectly protect Jaxx and Rousey’s characters.

Rousey is currently on a 30-day suspension for attacking Kurt Angle and several referees on the RAW after Money in the Bank. She appeared in a pre-recorded interview this week and plans to be front row at the Extreme Rules PPV as a spectator. She is booked to be there anyway so more likely than not she will do more than just watch Nia Jaxx face Alexa Bliss for the RAW Women’s Championship.

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Brock Lesnar has now held the Universal Championship longer than CM Punk.

Dana White all but confirmed in recent interviews that Brock Lesnar is returning to UFC later this year despite having signed a new contract with WWE two years ago. Lesnar has made it no secret he is very interested in returning to UFC and has been training for it.

Vince has been dancing around the fact RAW having an absentee champion has long run its course. Reigns’ on-screen frustrations earlier this year is a shared sentiment and more so given how much effort has been put into just not talking about the fact Brock Lesnar wrestles who and when he wants. Lesnar is not booked for Extreme Rules and has recently been ruled out for Summer Slam. This despite Roman Reigns clearing being set up to take the title from Lesnar…only to be cashed in on by the Monster in the Bank Braun Strowman immediately or shortly afterward.

My guess is Lesnar will be booked to drop the title later this year to Reigns but instead the Money in the Bank Briefcase will come into play to protect Lesnar’s character. This was why it was done at Wrestlemania 31, too (Rollins cashed in). It’s a matter of seeing how things play out at this point.

 

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Ronda Rousey inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame; The latest Brock Lesnar Rumors

Big Cass released by WWE; Vader Passes Away at 63

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William Morrissey–Big Cass in WWE–pissed off Vince McMahon when during the May 1 Smackdown segment involving a Little Person. Now that incident and what some viewed as thinly veiled shots at “smaller” opponents during his promos ever since seem to have cost him his job.

In the May 1 promo involving a little person dressed up as Daniel Bryan, he was only supposed to deliver a Big Boot. As everyone knows, he didn’t stop there. After knocking down D-Bry’s doppleganger as planned, Morrissey proceeded to pummel him for several moments. He was obviously trying to get Over with the crowd but Morrisey clearly took things too far.

He was in the doghouse after that but he reportedly drank heavily between shows while traveling. Things became uncomfortable after he got into an altercation with his ex-girlfriend and current Smackdown Women’s Champion Carmella. Morrissey clearly didn’t learn after what happened to his former tag team partner Eric Arnt (Enzo Amore in WWE) to say the least but fortunately didn’t cause a huge scandal.

Morrissey was reportedly fired hours before Smackdown was to begin and was not told “Good luck in your future endeavours”. Like Arnt, he will likely return to the indie scene and try to rebuild. If he’s lucky, he may eventually get into ROH or NJPW but he will not have the level of exposure given to WWE Superstars.

Update 7/8/2018:

In a recent interview, Booker T shed some light on one of the elements that led to Big Cass being fired and not just suspended. Here it is:

…There you have it.

Of course, it’s well known Donald Trump made several WWE appearances 10 years ago including headlining Wrestlemania 24. It’s also no secret Vince has been trying to distance the company from Trump after he became president for a variety of reasons, the biggest one being his wife Linda works as a member of Trump’s staff.

That aside, it’s not that talking about politics is taboo in the locker room. After all, several WWE Superstars have incorporated politics into their character as part of their feuds with others for example but in those cases it was for storyline reasons.

The problem with Big Cass wasn’t the fact that he is an outspoken Trump supporter. It’s the fact that he put that he prioritized it over being a professional. He’d just returned after a long absence due to injury and was being put over by D-Bry to help build his character. It might have been different if he was established and at least had a strong rep as a workhorse but he prettymuch just got there.

It’s like Booker T said at the end of his comments: Big Cass might find work elsewhere but he screwed himself with WWE and that will work against him. He’s gonna have to prove to wherever he ends up that he can keep the politics in check while at work.

 

Leon White, known in WWE as Vader passed away Monday night. He was 63 years old. WWE likely intended to announce his death yesterday but between Morrissey getting canned and Smackdown, they delayed making the announcement until Wednesday morning.

…A thousand apologies but I thought I posted this two weeks ago. I got some catching up to do, I know. LOL.

 

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Big Cass released by WWE; Vader Passes Away at 63

CM Punk loses his second UFC fight and is beaten so bad, he’s taken to the hospital

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…To say Phil Brooks’ UFC days are now numbered is an understatement. After a frustrating loss in his fight fight in UFC, Dana White (UFC’s Founder and President) recently revealed some details of a phone conversation he had with the former WWE Superstar after he lost his first fight in the octogon. White basically said Punk begged him for another match without actually saying it but that’s prettymuch what he wants folks to know how his second match came to be.

Phil Brooks–aka CM Punk–left WWE in 2014 due to physical and emotional stress because of his grueling schedule with the company. Last week, the former WWE Superstar unemphantically and definitely said he’s closed the door on pro wrestling period. So, for those who wanted to hear the man himself say it, now he has.

The statement came on the heels of Punk winning a lawsuit filed against him by WWE earlier in the week. WWE sued Punk for Defamation because of comments he made on Colt Cabana’s Podcast in 2014 (after he left) about his former employer and a physician employed by the company he mentioned by name in the podcast. Defeating the lawsuit was a huge accomplishment on Punk’s part as most would look to settle out of court.

Punk dug in and didn’t back down knowing WWE has going to do everything within its power to destroy him, more so because of the way he left. Back in 2014, Punk walked out on the company after the 2014 Royal Rumble. He wasn’t fired or asked to be released. He woke up one moring and decided not to report for the next RAW Taping. He ignored all attempts WWE made to reach out to him and it was to the point Triple H–then the Executive President of Talent Relations–got involved and personally paid him a visit. Punk was officially released by WWE shortly afterward.

When CM Punk left WWE, he turned his back on alot of people who considered him a good friend. Corey Graves, who was in in NXT at the same time as Punk took a swipe at Punk on Twitter after his second UFC loss. Punk went apeshit when he learned Colt Cabana had posed with WWE Staff during a RAW Episode two years ago. Cabana, who was originally one of the co-defendants in the lawsuit was dropped last year. Punk also cut ties with former WWE Superstar Hornswoggle out of concerns he might leak information to WWE and hurt his chances of winning the lawsuir,

It would be fair to say his imfamous Pipebomb Segment–now considered one of the Promos ever done in Pro Wrestling History–forced WWE to think twice about releasing talent that is Over with the WWE Universe. His exit from WWE also forced the company to end the Super Cena Era and

Even to this day, many fans still believe Punk will one day return to WWE. Most of them either don’t know why he left or about the lawsuit and those that do think WWE could make him an offer he wouldn’t be able to refuse. Punk candidly said in 2015 he couldn’t return to WWE even if he wanted to, making reference to the lawsuit against him by the company at the time.

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Punk has obviously now come to terms with his exit from WWE compared to four years ago. He’s matured and moved on. Anyone who calls themselves a fan of his needs to do the same and accept the fact Punk’s “Cult of Peronality” Entance Music will not play in WWE ever again. Plus it’s obvious WWE has no hard feelings against CM Punk. All of his matches can be seen on WWE Network. CM Punk was the cover Superstar for WWE 2K13, which was released on the Xbox 360 and PS3.

Phil Brooks, 36 married fellow former WWE Superstar AJ Mendes (AJ Lee in WWE), who left the company in 2015 so she could be with him. The two share an apartment in Chicago. which Punk highlights as his favorite part of his post-WWE life: Having the stability of a home to go to almost every night.

This is a stark contrast to his schedule as a WWE Superstar in which he was always on the road and had almost no downtime because he would be traveling from place to place. Some can handle it and some can’t. Mind you, Punk left WWE BEFORE Superstars were tapped to create original content for WWE Network so…yeah.

While his UFC days are certainly numbered, you can be sure he will look to do MMA fights in another promotion. Because of his age, it’s more likely he will look into doing something outside combat sports and wrestling entirely.

CM Punk loses his second UFC fight and is beaten so bad, he’s taken to the hospital