Mustafa Ali WWE Return Rumors; FTR Talk AEW Contract; IInspiration Leaving ImpactApril 27, 2022
Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe and All Elite Wrestling.
Reported Original Plans for Ali's WWE Return
Mustafa Ali returned to WWE programming on Monday night's episode of Raw after six months away, but there were reportedly different plans in place for his return initially.
According to Fightful Select (h/t Manik Aftab of Ringside News), the first plan called for Ali to lose his return match to The Miz. Instead, WWE decided to put Ali over in a victory.
Ali's return saw him interrupt a Miz TV segment involving The Miz and new United States champion Theory. Ali announced his desire to challenge for the U.S. title, but Theory managed to manipulate the situation into Ali facing Miz instead.
During the promo, both Miz and Theory took shots at Ali and joked about the fact that he had legitimately requested his release from the company.
Per Fightful, Ali knew ahead of time that his release request was going to be mentioned, and he was "more than comfortable" with it.
Ali's win over Miz perhaps moved him into U.S. title contention, but another factor entered the fray after the match, as he was attacked by Ciampa while walking up the ramp.
The segment undoubtedly breathed some new life into Raw's midcard with Miz, Theory, Ali and Ciampa all entering the fray.
It is unclear what the future holds for Ali and whether he will leave WWE the first opportunity he gets, but based on how he was featured when he returned, both he and WWE have a chance to mend some fences and do some positive things moving forward.
FTR Discusses Contract Situation
Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler of FTR addressed their AEW contract situation and reported interest from WWE this week.
Appearing on The Sessions with Renee Paquette (h/t Callum Altimas of Ringside News), FTR gave some insight into why they left WWE, their status with AEW and what the future could hold for them.
With regard to WWE potentially having interest in bringing FTR back, Harwood said:
"I think we know about as much as everyone else does. We left that place because they didn't put a focus on tag team wrestling and we knew there was a ceiling to where we could go in the company. We wanted to do more, we wanted to be known as the greatest tag team of all time and we had to leave there to do that.
"We knew that and that's why we were so persistent on them giving us our releases. Now, I see on the screenshot of all the different news outlets saying they want to re-sign us. And that's flattering, that’s cool."
Last week, Fightful Select (h/t H Jenkins of Ringside News) reported that WWE has expressed internal interest in bringing FTR back into the fold.
Fightful (h/t WrestlingInc's Marc Middleton) also reported that while FTR's AEW contracts had been set to expire this summer, AEW confirmed that FTR are still under contract for more than a year, meaning the company may have exercised an option in their deals.
That means FTR won't be leaving any time soon, although Harwood didn't shoot down the idea of returning to WWE.
Harwood did, however, make it clear that FTR won't be playing the field while under an AEW contract, saying: "We've got some more time left but I told [AEW president] Tony [Khan] that there's no way that we would ever talk contracts with anybody while we were working for him. We have way too much respect for him and our word means something."
FTR are the reigning ROH and AAA world tag team champions, and they previously held the AEW World Tag Team Championships as well.
While it is widely accepted that they have reached a new level of prominence in AEW, Harwood and Wheeler were successful in WWE as well under the tag team name The Revival.
The Revival were one of only two tag teams in WWE history to have held the NXT, Raw and SmackDown Tag Team Championships.
It is no secret that WWE typically doesn't focus on the tag team division as much as it does singles, but with tag teams like RK-Bro, The Usos, Alpha Academy and The Street Profits all getting plenty of shine lately, perhaps a return to WWE could pique FTR's interest to at least some degree.
IInspiration Announces Break from Pro Wrestling
Cassie Lee and Jessie McKay, known collectively as The IInspiration, announced Wednesday that they are taking a break from professional wrestling.
Lee and McKay have been under contract with Impact Wrestling since last year, but based on the wording of the joint statement they released, it seems they will no longer be under an Impact deal:
It was also noted in the statement that Lee and McKay are "indefinitely stepping away from in-ring action" and exploring "other opportunities that may come our way."
The IInspiration held the Impact Knockouts World Tag Team Championships during their time in Impact Wrestling, but they are perhaps best known for what they did in WWE.
Lee and McKay, who are longtime friends from Australia, both signed with WWE in 2015 under the respective names Peyton Royce and Billie Kay.
They were eventually made into a tag team in NXT, and when they were called up to the main roster in 2018, they were given the tag team name The IIconics.
Royce and Kay enjoyed a great deal of success in WWE, including becoming the second team to hold the WWE women's tag team titles, which they won at WrestleMania 35.
After the team was broken up in 2019, however, neither Royce nor Kay found that same level of success as singles wrestlers, and they were released in April 2021.
It is unclear what Lee and McKay plan to do outside the world of wrestling, but if they can make a name for themselves elsewhere, there will likely be many opportunities available to them in the pro wrestling space in the future.
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