Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe and All Elite Wrestling.
Banks, Naomi Reportedly Suspended Without Pay by WWE
Former WWE women's tag team champions Sasha Banks and Naomi reportedly aren't being paid during their indefinite suspension from WWE.
According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t WrestlingInc's Eric Mutter), it is possible Banks and Naomi could go "months or longer" without pay due to WWE's right to freeze their contracts.
Meltzer is unsure if WWE intends to do that, but if the company freezes their contracts, they might not be paid unless or until they return to WWE programming.
Two weeks ago, it was announced on SmackDown that WWE had suspended Banks and Naomi indefinitely for walking out during an episode of Raw. They were also stripped of the WWE Women's Tag Team Championships.
Sasha and Naomi had been scheduled to compete in a six-pack challenge on Raw against Asuka, Becky Lynch, Doudrop and Nikki A.S.H., with the winner challenging Bianca Belair for the Raw Women's Championship at Hell in a Cell.
Since Banks and Naomi walked out, it was changed to a singles match between Asuka and Lynch, which Asuka won. Lynch was added to the title match last week, making it a Triple Threat at HIAC.
After Banks and Naomi decided to leave during Raw, WWE released a statement on the matter, scolding them for their actions:
B/R Wrestling @BRWrestling
Sasha Banks and Naomi walked out on tonight’s Raw after Banks had issues with “creative ideas pitched,” per <a href="https://twitter.com/PWInsidercom?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@PWInsidercom</a><br><br>WWE issued a statement afterwards <a href="https://t.co/c7PZc3K4KL">pic.twitter.com/c7PZc3K4KL</a>
Sasha and Naomi reportedly questioned what that meant for the future of their tag team and expressed frustration, leading to them walking out when the booking wasn't changed.
Meltzer (h/t WrestlingInc's Matthew Wilkinson) subsequently reported that Naomi's WWE contract is set to expire "soon," and that she had been negotiating a new deal with WWE before walking out.
It was then reported by former WWE writer Kazeem Famuyide on The Ringer's Masked Man Show (h/t Mutter) that both Naomi and Banks will see their WWE contracts expire in two months, although Meltzer was unable to confirm Banks' contractual status.
Now, the suspension complicates things since it is unclear if WWE will opt to freeze their deals until they return to television.
MJF Reportedly Taken Off the Road by AEW
MJF reportedly won't be on AEW programming for the foreseeable future after a controversial weekend in Las Vegas for Double or Nothing.
According to PWInsider.com's Mike Johnson, MJF will be absent "at least for the next several TV tapings," but it could be even longer.
MJF made headlines on Saturday when he did not show up for a meet and greet during AEW Fan Fest, which forced AEW to offer refunds. Per Fightful Select (h/t WrestlingInc's Kellie Haulotte), nobody from AEW could get in contact with MJF at the time and a source said they were "very unhappy about how it all played out."
Fightful also reported that a flight had been booked for MJF out of Las Vegas prior to Sunday's Double or Nothing pay-per-view, but MJF never got on the flight, as he showed up at the event.
MJF competed in the opening match, getting squashed by former associate Wardlow, who beat him with 10 powerbombs.
After the match, MJF was stretchered away as an apparent means of writing him off television for the time being.
Fightful's Sean Ross Sapp reported after the pay-per-view that MJF told him he "showed up shortly before his match, left right after, and has a lot to think about."
MJF has expressed frustration with his pay in multiple interviews, specifically mentioning that he doesn't like former WWE wrestlers coming to AEW and making more money than him.
The 25-year-old phenom has been open about becoming a free agent in January 2024 and isn't ruling out the possibility of leaving AEW for WWE if the money is right.
While some aspects of what happened over Double or Nothing weekend could have been MJF playing up to his heel character, there do seem to be legitimate issues between him and AEW that could lead to him leaving when he gets the opportunity.
Punk Responds to AEW Backstage Heat Speculation
Following his AEW World Championship win over "Hangman" Adam Page in the main event of Double or Nothing on Sunday, CM Punk shot down the notion that he isn't well-liked backstage in AEW.
During the post-show media scrum, Punk was asked about how he has meshed with the AEW locker room, and he responded:
"I've grown so wise in my old age that I'll do my best to be as diplomatic as I possibly can with this answer. If there are people backstage that don't like me, it's a minority. If anybody says that nobody wants me here, or nobody likes me, I'd like to say that nobodies don't like me, and nobodies don't want me here."
The question may have been in reference to something Page said in a promo leading up to Double or Nothing. Page claimed he was "defending All Elite Wrestling" from Punk, which caused speculation about Punk having some detractors in the locker room.
Ultimately, it may have just been part of the storyline, with Page as a Day 1 AEW star and Punk joining the company later as a former WWE star.
Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Andrew Ravens of WrestlingNews.com) furthered the speculation by suggesting there may have been some truth to what Page was saying, however.
Whatever the case, there is no denying Punk's star power and importance to AEW, which is why he was rewarded with a title win at Double or Nothing.
Now, the focus will shift toward whether AEW continues to book him as the company's top babyface or leans into the speculation about Punk's personality and potentially turns him heel at some point.
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