Stone Cold Talks WrestleMania 39; WWE Rumors on Interest in AEW's FTR and Brand Split

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 20, 2022

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 29: Pro wrestling Hall of Famer Steve Austin united with other celebrities under a common cause to join Wendy's in the effort to spread the news that good BBQ is now available to everyone with Wendy's new BBQ Pulled Pork offerings.  As part of Wendy's #bbq4Merica campaign, celebrity spokespersons Austin, actor and dancer Alfonso Ribeiro and actor and filmmaker Ralph Macchio created a series of humorous public service announcements videos launching today.  (Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images for Wendy's)
Moses Robinson/Getty Images for Wendy's

Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe and All Elite Wrestling.

Stone Cold Expects to Be Involved with WrestleMania 39

WWE Hall of Famer "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's in-ring career may be over, but that doesn't mean he won't still have heavy involvement with WWE moving forward.

During an appearance on the Brewbound podcast (h/t WrestlingInc's Matthew Wilkinson), Austin discussed his role at WrestleMania 38, where his career stands currently and whether he will be part of WrestleMania 39.

"Well, for me to participate at WrestleMania 38," he said, "if you'd have told me, 'Hey man, you're going to be part of WrestleMania 38, not only that, you're going to main event Night 1,' I would have said, 'You're full of s--t, and you're crazy.' But there I was, in Dallas, Texas, headlining main event on Day 1.

"So, never say never. But I would imagine within the scope of that show, that's going to be a big show in a big-time city, and it will be a two-night event again. So, I am sure I am done wrestling, per se. But as part of WWE, I can't imagine that I would not be there in some capacity."

At WrestleMania 38 earlier this month, Austin appeared on The KO Show with Kevin Owens. For weeks, Owens badmouthed the state of Texas and goaded Austin into showing up at AT&T Stadium to confront him.

While fans were led to believe it would be a segment rather than a match, Owens challenged Austin to a No Holds Barred match on the spot, and The Texas Rattlesnake accepted.

What ensued was a far longer and more involved match than anyone could have expected, and it ended with Austin hitting Owens with a Stone Cold Stunner for the win.

That marked Austin's first match in 19 years, as he hadn't competed in an official match since losing to The Rock at WrestleMania 19.

Despite being out of action for so long, the 57-year-old Austin looked good, and the crowd was clearly behind him.

Austin also played a role on Night 2 of WrestleMania 38, hitting WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and his protege, Theory, with Stunners.

Next year's WrestleMania will be held at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, and the hope is that WWE may be able to bring in The Rock for the show, potentially for a match against his cousin, Roman Reigns.

Whether Austin is part of the show or not depends on what McMahon wants, as Stone Cold remarked: "I am not booking myself on the show, because I didn't book myself on 38. That's a Vince thing, and I have a great relationship with him. If I get the call, I will be there."

Austin seems happy with the way things went at WrestleMania 38 and perhaps gained some additional closure to his legendary career, but even if he doesn't have another match, he seems open to doing something at what promises to be a massive WrestleMania next year.

FTR's AEW Contract Details

FTR are reportedly under contract with AEW for longer than originally thought.

According to Fightful Select (h/t WrestlingInc's Marc Middleton), AEW has confirmed that Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler each have more than one year remaining on their contracts.

It was previously reported by Fightful (h/t Middleton) that FTR's contracts were set to expire this summer, although AEW had a one-year option in their deals and was expected to exercise the option.

AEW's rebuttal may be a sign that the company has already exercised the option, which would mesh with the timeline Fightful provided in its first report.

Fightful also reported that WWE has interest in bringing FTR back to the company if and when the tag team hits free agency.

FTR first rose to prominence in WWE as The Revival, joining forces in NXT in 2014 and quickly rising up the ranks in the tag team division.

Under the names Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder, Harwood and Wheeler were two-time NXT tag team champions and went on to have memorable matches and rivalries with DIY, American Alpha and AOP.

The Revival was called up to the main roster in 2017 and went on to win the Raw Tag Team Championship twice and the SmackDown Tag Team Championship once. In doing so, The Revival became the first team to ever hold the NXT, Raw and SmackDown tag team titles.

Harwood and Wheeler requested and were granted their WWE release in 2020, and they went on to sign with AEW shortly thereafter.

They had a brief run as AEW world tag team champions, and they are currently the reigning Ring of Honor and AAA world tag team champs.

WWE typically doesn't place a ton of value on tag teams, but based on how much FTR has accomplished since leaving WWE, it makes sense that the company would potentially want them back if they get the opportunity.

WWE Reportedly Not Planning to End Brand Split

WWE is moving forward with unifying a second set of titles, but that reportedly doesn't mean that the brand split is coming to an end.

According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer (h/t WrestlingInc's Matthew Wilkinson), it is possible McMahon could change his mind, but WWE currently isn't planning to end the brand split and is not booking things with that endgame in mind.

At WrestleMania 38, Reigns defeated Brock Lesnar in the main event to retain the Universal Championship and win the WWE Championship, meaning Reigns is now in possession of both world titles.

Since WrestleMania, Reigns made it clear that he wants his cousins, The Usos, to follow in his footsteps.

The Tribal Chief called for Jimmy and Jey to challenge RK-Bro and beat them for the Raw Tag Team Championships so that The Bloodline could be in possession of both the Raw and SmackDown tag team titles.

The Usos are now scheduled to face RK-Bro in a winner-take-all at WrestleMania Backlash on May 16.

If the tag titles are indeed unified at Backlash, it would result in two sets of titles being unified, while the women's world titles and men's midcard titles would remain separate.

Perhaps there are no immediate plans to merge the Raw and SmackDown rosters, but unification does suggest it is at least a possibility in the near future.

WWE has trimmed down its roster significantly over the past couple of years, making the brand split less of a need. Since the roster is now manageable enough where most Superstars can get some shine without a brand split, it may be wise to eliminate it, as it would create the possibility of more intriguing matchups.

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