Backstage WWE and AEW Rumors: Latest on Sasha Banks, Unified Title and More
Has the Sasha Banks-WWE drama finally come to a head?
A late report Wednesday night suggested that may be the case, with an outcome that will affect the fans, the WWE women's division and the star power of its roster.
The latest on The Boss isn't the only topic of discussion in this collection of wrestling rumors and speculation, though.
Also included are updates on Cody Rhodes' recent surgery to repair his torn pectoral muscle, original plans for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship and the All Elite Wrestling world tag team titles.
Has WWE Released Sasha Banks?
Raj Giri of Wrestling Inc reported late Wednesday night that former Raw, Smackdown and NXT women's champion Sasha Banks has been released from her contract with WWE.
Banks and Naomi walked out of WWE over creative frustrations during the May 16 episode of Raw and were immediately suspended without pay. Updates regarding the situation were few and far between, but the company worked overtime to paint The Boss and her teammate as unprofessional and having let down the fans.
It became clear fairly quickly that something had to happen and if Giri's sources are correct, it's the worst possible outcome for WWE.
Banks is the definition of a "star," yet she has repeatedly received unsatisfactory pushes that end unceremoniously or are not met with the creative efforts someone of her stature demands.
If the 30-year-old is finished with the company, WWE will have managed to let a mainstream star walk away.
Banks has the credibility of having appeared on the Disney+ series The Mandalorian, was featured in the opening for the 2022 College Football Championship game and was all over social media during the week of WrestleMania 38.
Talent like Banks does not grow on trees and merely throwing every available women's wrestler on the show and hoping one gets to be as perpetually over as The Boss is wishful thinking, to say the least.
Cody Rhodes Update
Dave Meltzer reported on Wrestling Observer Radio that WWE filmed the entirety of Cody Rhodes' pectoral surgery for inclusion in a future documentary.
The American Nightmare is going to be in full-blown babyface mode upon his return to the company following his rehabilitation.
The company likely also filmed Rhodes' day leading up to his epic performance inside Hell in a Cell against Seth Rollins. That particular episode of WWE 24 is going to be phenomenal.
The former AEW star is going to babyface like no one has babyfaced before, and the result will almost certainly be a run at the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.
In fact, if WWE cannot get The Rock to agree to a WrestleMania 39 match against Roman Reigns in Los Angeles, do not be surprised if The American Nightmare rolls into SoFi Stadium and becomes the man to finally dethrone The Tribal Chief.
Inspirational stories like that are what the WWE production team excels in.
Ironically enough, one of its best is Seth Rollins: Redesign, Rebuild, Reclaim, released in conjunction with his comeback from a knee injury in 2016.
Given The Visionary's sneak attack on Rhodes on the Raw following Hell in a Cell, expect their unfinished business to be settled somewhere along the line, too.
Original Plans for Undisputed WWE Universal Championship
The original plans for the unification of the WWE and Universal Championships at WrestleMania 38 called for Roman Reigns to more freely appear on both Raw and SmackDown, per a report from WrestleVotes.
Since unifying the titles, The Tribal Chief has wrestled just one televised match and appeared on only a handful of Raw and Smackdown episodes as part of a new contract signed earlier this year that called for fewer dates, per Meltzer.
The likelihood that Reigns and WWE just sat down one day and worked out a new mega-deal that called for him to essentially miss the entire first half of summer programming, including the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, is highly unlikely.
There had to be some recognition on both sides that the dual titleholder was looking for fewer dates in his next contract, making the decision to unify the titles and put them on a Superstar who is, effectively, a part-timer performer that much more curious.
Reigns has earned his deal and the right to work fewer dates. He has been the best part of WWE television for the best part of two years and finally realized the potential so many saw in him a decade ago.
If there was any indication he would not be around to actively defend the top prize in WWE, the creative team and management should have put a halt to plans to go all-in with one guy and adversely affect the quality of its programming as a result.
AEW Tag Team Championship Plans Altered
The Young Bucks defeated Jurassic Express in a fantastic ladder match Wednesday night on Dynamite to capture the AEW World Tag Team Championship, but that was not always the plan, according to Fightful Select's Sean Ross Sapp.
With Jeff Hardy claiming he and brother Matt were in the middle of their last run together, AEW originally considered putting the titles on them. But the match between the Hardys and the Bucks at Double or Nothing changed those plans.
"Following Double or Nothing, Fightful got word that the titles were likely to be moved to The Young Bucks instead," Sapp said. "As with anything, that's not confirmed until it happens, but talk of the Hardys being next in line for the tag titles dwindled immediately after that performance."
The issue in question, the report stated, is what management claimed was a head injury suffered by Jeff during the bout.
Given the recent quality of the Bucks' in-ring performances, it is probably for the best that AEW chose to run with Matt and Nick as champions instead. With the only set-in-stone plans being Christian Cage's betrayal of Jungle Boy, the company was able to execute that angle and have one of those rare historic moments in which the Bucks became the first two-time tag champions.
Somehow, that feels more suitable than a Hardy Boys run given how inconsistent the future Hall of Famers' work has been since their much-celebrated reunion earlier this year.