It looks like Mark Henry will still work for WWE as a Recruiter of New Talent

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A new WWE.com article just released sheds some light on the big reason Mark Henry had a part-time schedule since 2011 (ironically, right around the time of his imfamous Fake Retirement skit involving John Cena): He’s been actively scouting and recruiting new talent from as far back as 2012.

A few names mentioned in the article credited to Mark Henry include Apollo Crews (RAW), Bianca Belair (NXT), Baron Corbin (Smackdown) and Braun Strowman (RAW) but it’s obvious there are more out there either yet to be known or don’t want their connection to The World’s Strongest Man to be known.

The article mentions Mark Henry’s development process which involved The Rock and a trainer in a warehouse back in 1996. Today, WWE has NXT. Several current and former superstars also run a wrestling school or a promotion in both the U.S. and overseas. The Great Khali is the most famous Indian-born Wrestler. As I mentioned last year, WWE made Jinder Mahal WWE Champion mostly to help promote the brand in India. It’s become more important than ever in the case of international markets to identify employees or superstars who can take point scouting new markets or new talent.

Kurt Angle famously told Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and AJ Styles on separate occasions to go to WWE when he was winding down his run with TNA (Biggest non-WWE promotion in the U.S. after WCW and ECW were bought by WWE). As chronicled on WWE Network, Ember Moon was famously turned down by WWE 10 years ago but thanks to her persistence, she got her big break after finding success in Indie Promotions.

Roman Reigns, The Usos, Tamina Snuka and Nia Jaxx are all cousins. Reigns’ brother Umaga (died last year) had a successful WWE run, The Usos’ father Rikishi entered the WWE Hall of Fame a few years back and Tamina is the daughter of the late Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. Nia Jaxx is cousin and nice to all of them as well as the Rock.

WWE has had a long, deep relationship with the Fatu and Anoa’i families but they are not the only ones. Let’s not forget about the Hart Family (Natalya, Bret, Owen, The British Bulldog and so on), The Rhodes (Dustin Rhodes aka Goldust and Code Rhodes, who is now with ROH), Randy Orton and his father “Cowboy” Bob Orton and of course, Ric Flair and his daughter Charlotte.

The McMahons go without saying and at different times, all three of them–Vince, Shane and Stephanie–have held championship gold. None of Shane or Stephanie’s kids are of age yet but it’s certainly possible at leaast one of them could enter the business as a superstar once they are.

My point is it’s not just about who you know but who wants to know you. It just so happens when an accomplished former or current superstar has their eye on you, only good things can happen!

 

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It looks like Mark Henry will still work for WWE as a Recruiter of New Talent

The Mixed Match Challenge enters the Second Round

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WWE’s Mixed Match Challenge airs on Facebook Live Tuesdays after Smackdown but becomes available on WWE Network over the following weekend. It doubles as a both advertising and offers a little something extra in between PPVs.

Given WWE announced it will be ending brand-exclusive PPVs last week after Wrestlemania, this is clearly an experiment to see what other ways they can put out new content. Ending the brand exclusive PPVs makes sense purely from a cost-effective point of view: Two PPVs a month means paying for two venues and it adds up over a 12-year period. WWE introduced brand-exclusive PPVs after the brand split in 2016.

The only PPVs that remained cross-brand were the big four: The Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summer Slam and Survivor Series. A last-minute change that needed to be made to the Card on the then RAW-exclusive TLC PPV also comes to mind. WWE was forced to call in Smackdown’s AJ Styles as a last-minute replacement after Bray Wyatt was sidelined by a Meningitis outbreak that also took his real-life brother Bo Dallas, who wasn’t on the card and Roman Reigns (Who was replaced by Kurt Angle) out for a while.

They could’ve just removed the match from the card and though it would’ve sucked, you couldn’t have exactly blamed then. But, this is WWE and they knew there WAS someone who has a shared history with Finn Balor: AJ Styles. Styles and Balor both ran New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) Bullet Club but at different times and both men are besties with fellow Bullet Club members Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (both on RAW with Finn Balor). Most agree it was easily the best match on the card as they put on a classic.

…All that said, WWE is clearly looking to avoid having to make a last-minute change to a PPV match with little to no buildup. The changes to TLC 2017 worked because of the superstars involved with one match (Styles/Balor) and the fact props were a part of the other (Kurt Angle + Ambrose and Rollins vs. Miz, Kane, Braun Strowman, Sheamus + Ceasaro). WWE had 48 hours to get AJ Styles to the venue and when the decision was made, RAW and Smackdown had both aired for the week. The superstars involved cut quick promos that were posted online though. As we would find out in the RAW after TLC, the changes to the card likely wouldn’t have changed the buildup to Survivor Series.

Getting back to Mixed Match Challenges though, it’s mostly non-canon for all the Superstars involved. It will be interesting to see who betweeb Asuka and Strowman will take a clean loss if they meet in Week 10. Even if their partner is pinned, it’s still a loss…right? In Week 11, the team of Rusev/Lana or Bobby Roode/Charlotte Flair will face a team voted back in that was already eliminated. Strowman/Bliss seems the most likely if they’re eliminated if not Miz/Asuka if they are.Balor/Banks or Jimmy Uso/Naomi are other possabilities.

It will be interesting to see how this ends!

The Mixed Match Challenge enters the Second Round

Super Bowl outcome could set the stage for a Wrestlemania match

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…I’m of course talking about New England Patiots LB Rob Gronkowski going up against Smackdown superstar and former NFL Player Mojo Rawley. Rawley Heel Turned a few months back when he attacked his now former partner Zack Ryder. Rawley had quite the year during the time his former partner was shelved due to injury, capped off by his winning the 2017 Andre The Giant Challenge at Wrestlemania 33.

After turning on Ryder, Rawley correctly noted the losing started when his partner returned and they resumed tag team competition as The Hype Bros. The above screenshot is of Rawley and Gronk getting hyped up before Rowley’s match with Jinder Mahal last year.

The Patriots LB wasn’t exactly pleased his best friend turned on his partner last year. With Gronk and the Patriots getting upset at the Super Bowl, don’t be surprised if you see Rawley start taking shots at him. Gronk didn’t rule out retiring even though he has two more years left on his contract with the Patriots. Not saying that’s happening anytime soon but Gronk making another Wrestlemania appearance wouldn’t interfere with is role as a member of the Patriots. Or rather, it shouldn’t.

 

Super Bowl outcome could set the stage for a Wrestlemania match

Alexa Bliss and Braun Strowman clearly were clearly out of character in this week’s Mixed Match Challenge

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…Out of character is putting it mildly. LOL. The weekly cross-brand mixed-gender tournament featured #teamlittlebig. Coincidentally, Alexa is actually the smallest woman on the roster at 5’1″ while Strowman is the biggest at 6’8″. This is what makes their pairing so hilarious despite the Nia Jaxx wanting to be paired with The Monster Among Men.

After winning their match (and handing Becky Lynch a loss on her birthday, she was paired with Sami Zayn), Strowman hit on Little Miss Bliss during their post-match interview with Renee Young. Bliss didn’t realize he broke character until she saw his face begin to change color. That was the moment she remembered the rumors regarding his Tinder Account:

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…This isn’t a joke or a photoshop. Yes, he is on Tinder and has been for at least two years now actually. Adam Scherr is his real name and if his last name sounds familiar, his father is a Softball Hall of Famer:

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The resemblance is strong obviously. In his prime, Rick Scherr was also 6’8″.

 

Here’s a picture of Adam Scherr with his sister, apparently taken backstage during a show:

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So, we know that height and power is mostly genetic. She’s almost eye-level to her brother!

Getting back to the Mixed Match Challenge: The REAL interesting thing is by the end of the interview, Bliss clearly broke character herself a bit. The door was blown wide open to tease some potenial chemistry between them.

Strowman was clearly being dead serious when he prettymuch asked her out and Bliss realized in that moment he broke character. So, she was clearly trying to Friend Zone him but left the door open for something more. It certainly helps they’re both on RAW!

Of course, both Strowman and Bliss will be involved in huge storylines on the road to Wrestlemania. Both could even main event Wrestlemania, too. It remains to be seen if they will be paired again but clearly they work well together. It was pretty hilarious when Strowman tried to get Bliss to deadlift a car. LOL.

 

 

Alexa Bliss and Braun Strowman clearly were clearly out of character in this week’s Mixed Match Challenge

The 2018 Royal Rumble revealed or confirmed potential Wrestlemania matches

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…Let’s just continue where we left off in my previous post. First, the Women’s Royal Rumble.

Asuka, who remains undefeated due to plot armor won the first Women’s Royal Rumble. It goes without saying the pool of women available is much smaller than the pool of men so Hall of Famers and former Divas were called in to fill in the remaing slots:

  • Lita (of course)
  • Trish Stratus (of course)
  • Vicki Guerro (The one Joke entrant)
  • Beth Phoenix
  • Kelly Kelly
  • Jacqueline
  • Michelle McCool (The crowd chanted “Undertaker!” when she got into the ring since she is…you know…his wife)
  • Torrie Wilson
  • NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon (Despite being injured)
  • NXT Superstar Kaire Sane (Won the 2017 Mae Young Classic)

The Women’s Royal Rumble was the main event and it stole the show. The Bella Twins made their in-ring return as well and not a step was missed. One would be hard-pressed to believe Brie had just given birth 6 months earlier. Nikki was one of the final two competators before she was eliminated by Asuka, who won the match.

As expected, several superstars had to work together to eliminate Nia Jaxx. Beth Phoenix was able to deadlft her but couldn’t get her over the top rope. Tamina participated as well but unlike Survivor Series, she and her cousin were not in the match at the same time. Lana also participated but like Vickie she was quickly eliminated.

Like in the Men’s Royal Rumble earlier in the night, someone was knocked out before they could get in the ring. In this case it was Carmella, who was decked by Vickie (who’d just been eliminated) with her Money in the Bank briefcase. Also like Kofi Kingston in the Men’s Royal Rumble, we saw someone creatively avoid being eliminated. It was Naomi. She was thrown out of the ring but landed on other superstars (some eliminated). As per the rules, since her feet did not touch the ground she wasn’t eliminated. She catwalked across the barricade, jumped on a chair and wheelbarrowed herself back to the ring. Clearly she did her homework. LOL.

…As a reminder, Maryse and Maria Kanellis are both pregnant and obviously couldn’t participate in the match (Though Maryse did do a photoshoot with The Miz the night before). Paige can’t compete either due to her career-ending injury as well. Stephanie provided commentary during the match as well.

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Rowdy Ronda Rousey’s surprise intro came before she could name who she will challenge at Wrestlemania: RAW Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss or Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair, who were both ringside for the Royal Rumble. Charlotte expressed her disappointment in not being able to participate in the match since she is the current Smackdown Women’s Champion. On the flipside, Alexa legit looked relieved by the time it was done. Until Rousey came out, that is.

As Stephanie McMahon said in the opening minutes of this week’s RAW, Asuka can take her time deciding. Between Asuka and Rousey, I would be very surprised if we don’t see a women’s match main event Wrestlemania.

…That aside, one potential Wrestlemania match was teased: Sasha Banks vs. Bayley. The Legit Boss going Heel has been teased for some time and I like the slow set up. She and Bayley will put on a classic at Wrestlemania. I say this given Sasha eliminated Bayley in the Royal Rumble match, then challenged Asuka–who is a Face–the following night on RAW. It was one hell of a match and both were spent but of course, Asuka outlasted Sasha. It doesn’t change the fact Sasha is definitely being set up for a Heel turn before or around the time Wrestlemania happens.

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Shinsuke Nakamura won the Men’s Royal Rumble and will face AJ Styles at Wrestlemania for the WWE Championship. Nakamura and Styles did clash in other promotions but not in WWE. Until now. They’re sure to put on a classic.

Like the Women’s Royal Rumble, some potential matches were teased. Bray Wyatt vs. Woken Matt Hardy is pretty obvious. John Cena is putting someone over. I’d have said Roman Reigns but they already clashed at last year’s Summer Slam. I’d have said Samoa Joe but it’s unlikely he’ll be healthy in time for Wrestlemania.

Kurt Angle was clearly planned to make his in-ring return at Wrestlemania but due to the Menningitis outbreak he did it at TLC instead. Angle vs. Triple H could still happen but there is also the possability we could see Kurt Angle vs. Shane McMahon. Who can forget that time Kurt Angle suplexed Shane through a window pane?

Dolph Zigger made his return at the Royal Rumble. As of right now, he is not involved with the U.S. Championship Tournament. He’s been on a loosing streak but it’s certainly possible that will change with his sudden return.

Rey Mysterio made his surprise return at the Royal Rumble. The first thing I thought was “205 Live”, which badly needs the established star power his presence would bring to the Cruiserweight Division. Mysterio’s last WWE run ended a few years ago after his contract expired. His first match in the indie promotion he debuted in–can’t remember if it was Lucha Underground, I think it was–ended in tragedy when his opponent died in the ring. It was a freak accident of course but it prettymuch killed his run in the promotion before it could begin prettymuch. WWE has been trying to get him back ever since and now that no other promotion is willing to take a chance on the aging Mysterio–as a reminder, he’s in his 40s now–so his return now is win-win.

I mentioned earlier someone in the Mens Royal Rumble got knocked out before they could get in thr ring. It happned to two people. Ty Dillinger was ambushed by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn backstage, who had just lost their 2 on 1 Handicap Match against AJ Styles for the WWE Championship in the previous match. Zayn inserted himself in the Royal Rumble as Dillinger’s replacement (LOL). He lasted for a bit before he was eventually eliminated.

Zayn and KO were punished for that by being put in a tag match against AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura on Smackdown 2 nights later. Zayn left KO high and dry right before the finish, confirming what I first thought when they teamed up last year: Zayn was just using him as a means to an end. Now their rivalry will likely get them a match on the card for Wrestlemania if things go as they are now. As a reminder: Zayn has yet to win a title since coming to the main roster from NXT. KO became the first superstar to hold the top titles of RAW and Smackdown after the brand split (Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss have since done the equivalent). It’s no secret Zayn has been envious of KO’s success.

…The other person who got knocked out at the Royal Rumble was unsurprisingly. Heath Slater. Poor guy has had some crazy bad luck lately.

 

The 2018 Royal Rumble revealed or confirmed potential Wrestlemania matches

At the 2018 Royal Rumble, Ronda Rousey breaks the internet and sets the sports world on fire

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…We all knew it was happening. We just didn’t know when: Former UFC Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey made her first official appearance as a WWE Superstar after the finish of the Women’s Royal Rumble. She eyeballed Asuka (the Women’s Royal Rumble winner) and Charlotte Flair (current Smackdown Women’s Champion) in particular before shaking Stephanie McMahon’s hand and then leaving.

Her entrance was clearly intended to in part erase the painfully awkward promo she did at the close of the Mae Young Classic. The larger purpose was to show the MMA world, UFC fans, WWE Fans and of course her fans what she has decided to do next.

Here’s an interview she did with ESPN after the Royal Rumble:

…Obviously this is a good fit for her. She is Marking out HARD at her own WWE signing so…yeah.

Here’s a separate interview she did with WWE, presumably before the ESPN interview. Easy to tell given the ring’s LED display is still on here but it’s off in the other one.

WWE.com announced after the Royal Rumble went off the air that they have agreed to terms and have signed Rousey to a full-time contract. Let’s not kid ourselves, she’s been working out at the WWE Performance Center for months now. She brought some of her friends from UFC over to WWE and they are tearing the house down in NXT.

As of this morning it is official. Rousey gave the important details to know for now last night and again this morning:

  • The jacket she wore belonged to the late Rowdy Roddy Piper. After posing with it backstage she returned it to his son.
  • WWE is her life now. She is all in and it is a multi-year deal. She let it slip she signed on for 3 to 5 years so…yeah.
  • As she noted, UFC owner Dana White considers her “retired from MMA” so she has closed the book on that part of her life.
  • She will make her in-ring debut “Soon”, which based on her obvious attempts to not say too much could be as soon as this week’s RAW or Smackdown.

Speaking of: We will hopefully find out this week which brand Rousey will be attached to, let alone the buildup to who her Wrestlemania opponent will be. Stephanie McMahon and Charlotte Flair were both heavily teased in the same night. Charlotte would give her a proper match and would be a MEGA draw for the Smackdown Championship. On the other hand, Stephanie McMahon would make the buildup look real good. Plus, there are the rumors The Rock has expressed an interest in working with Triple H at Wrestlemania. So, a mixed tag match involving the four of them could happen.

It’s very unlikely it would be anyone else.

Carmella using the briefcaseat Wrestlemania ala Seth Rollins would be pretty epic and let’s be honest: The reason she hasn’t cashed in yet is likely BECAUSE it will happen then. So, if Rousey is booked to face Charlotte then we could see Carmella pull a Seth Rollins. Maybe, maybe not. Time will tell.

I will discuss the rest of the Royal Rumble in a separate post.

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In closing, Rousey is another Brock Lesnar. Perhaps even bigger. She’s got connections in the MMA World and Star Power to draw in revenue. Dana White should’ve tried to keep her in UFC but didn’t reach out according to him and her.

ESPN has been taking shots at her and WWE all day over her new career choice, which comes as no surprise. Rousey is gonna dominate the Women’s Division just like Brock Lesnar does the Men’s Division. The difference is Lesnar is paid a full-time salary but works a part-time schedule as per his contract. Rousey will be paid full-time and work full-time on the other hand. And she’s hitting the ground running.

It’s Win-Win for both WWE and Rousey. ‘Nuff said.

At the 2018 Royal Rumble, Ronda Rousey breaks the internet and sets the sports world on fire

It’s Official: The XFL will return in 2020!

Vince McMahon announced Thursday afternoon that The XFL will return “Sometime in 2020”, giving a 2 year window to plan everything.

Let’s be honest: The details he gave were all lip service and no one believes for a second the XFL will be NFL-level tame. Unlike 2001, Vince is the sole owner (he had a partner back then). Also unlike 2001, he shouldn’t have a hard time finding a network or 3 looking to run the XFL this time.

There is alot of potential in the XFL this time around, more so given the current state of the NFL. The timing of this announcement, while expected was good. Vince directly calling out Tim Tebow is the first of many recruitment pitches to come. Sports Media agrees the XFL won’t replace the NFL anytime soon and clearly Vince isn’t lookint to do that this tme. The idea is to make an “Alternative” to the NFL.

More so given the XFL Season will run during the NFL’s offseason. I doubt both leagues will allow players to play for both leagues at the same time and you can be sure the XFL will be closely watching the NFL Draft. If the XFL can lure some NFL stars to their side like Richard Sherman and Michael Benett of the Seattle Seahawks, that could shift the balance of power significantly and open the floodgates to NFL players going over.

Let’s be real, the XFL will need more than just Undrafted NFL Prospects this time around:

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Vince needs to bring in XFL Hall of Famer (yes, there is one) Rod “He Hate Me” Smart, who was the reason to watch the XFL every week.

Anyone who at least heard of the XFL in 2001 knows He Hate Me:

 

Mr. XFL himself introduced the one trademark that didn’t transfer over to the NFL that should have: Nicknames on Jerseys.

I’ll put it like this. If Tom Brady leads the Patriots to their 6th Super Bowl next week, the NFL should just give him permission to put this on his jersey:

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…Because he already is. Me obviously being a shameless Boston Sports fan aside, my point is weather or not the XFL brings back nicknames on jerseys it was was a missed opportunity for the NFL.

Anywho, all we can do at this point is speculate. Vince is smart not to rush this time. It also certainly helps unlike 2001, WWE isn’t competing with another promotion. So, there is no sense of urgency like there was then. WWE Superstars will likely cameo like they did back in 2001. We may even see what was originally planned back then this time: WWE Matches at halftime. WWE has become proficient at cross promotion so we’ll see.

As for the teams. We know there will be at least 8 of them. The Las Vegas Outlaws had better be one of them! Speaking of: It would be pretty cool but would be unlikely if the NFL and the XFL did cross-promotion games ^_^

It’s Official: The XFL will return in 2020!