WWE Rumors on Sasha Banks, NXT Name Changes; Cardona Open to WWE Return vs. Goldberg

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVApril 18, 2022

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 09: Sasha Banks attends the Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards 2022 at Barker Hangar on April 09, 2022 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Nickelodeon

Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from WWE and AEW.

Sasha Banks Originally Planned for SmackDown

Fightful Select reported Sasha Banks was initially slated to face Rhea Ripley on last Friday's SmackDown but was replaced by Naomi.

There has been no reason given for Banks to be taken off the card. It's possible that WWE officials preferred Naomi take the one-on-one pin against Ripley instead of Banks, but that's purely speculation.

Banks and Naomi are slated to face off against Brutality (Liv Morgan and Ripley) for the women's tag team titles Monday on Raw, so it doesn't seem like Sasha's absence was anything injury-related.

If the titles switch hands on Monday, though? Banks' status could be something worth monitoring in the aftermath.

Odds are this was just a last-minute switcheroo from the office of Vince McMahon.

Dakota Kai, Indi Hartwell Keeping Their Names (For Now)

WWE is in its latest round of handing out cringey new names to talent. Pete Dunne became Butch; Marcel Barthel became Ludwig Kaiser; Walter became Gunther; Austin Theory became Theory for some head-scratching reason.

PWInsider reported Kacy Catanzaro is set to become Katana Chance, and Kay Lee Ray's name is about to be swapped for Alba Fyre. This is all being done in the great race for copyright supremacy, with WWE not wanting talent to be able to leave and continue using names that the company helped popularize. It's all an extremely ridiculous process that does little more than annoy fans and mess up continuity.

Luckily, at least two long-standing NXT stars are keeping their names. Dakota Kai, who was rumored to be repackaged as Clarice Riverz, and Indi Hartwell, who was set to become Indiana Hallow, are not having their names changed, per Fightful Select.

That sound you hear is the concepts of logic and good sense breathing a sigh of relief. Kai and Hartwell are two of NXT's longest-tenured, well-regarded women with instant name recognition.

Fingers crossed the powers that be keep their decision in place.

Matt Cardona Says He'll Return to WWE to Fight Goldberg

Matt Cardona has had one of the most successful post-WWE runs in recent memory—at least among released talent. He's reinvented himself as one of the most despised heels on the independent circuit, capturing an ever-increasing amount of championships on the way.

That said, Cardona hasn't left WWE all the way behind.

The eight-promotion champion recently sent a picture to Vince McMahon holding all his gold and also told a fan he would be willing to take a Saudi Arabia check to fight Goldberg.

Matt Cardona @TheMattCardona

100% <a href="https://t.co/N9zlHfqA6G">https://t.co/N9zlHfqA6G</a>

Cody Rhodes recently made his way back to WWE after being its prodigal son, so anything is possible in regards to a Cardona return. It's hard to see him returning in the form of Zack Ryder with all of the bright colors and woo-woo-woo'ing, but if Cardona can get a deal similar to Rhodes, where his packaging is similar to his indie persona, he could have a successful, non-jobbing run. 

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