Backstage WWE and AEW Rumors: Latest on Saraya, Bray Wyatt, Ronda Rousey and More
The women's division in All Elite Wrestling added considerable star power Wednesday night on Dynamite Grand Slam with the arrival of Saraya, but was it the only promotion to express interest in signing the hugely influential performer?
The answer to that question headlines a collection of wrestling rumors that also details the current state of the AEW locker room, WWE's White Rabbit plans and the latest on Ronda Rousey's role on SmackDown.
WWE's Interest in Saraya
The artist formerly known as Paige made her return to pro wrestling Wednesday night when she entered Arthur Ashe Stadium and sent a message to interim AEW women's champion Toni Storm, Athena, Britt Baker, Serena Deeb and Jamie Hayter, mouthing her trademark "This is my house" catchphrase.
Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful Select reported earlier that afternoon that AEW had reached out to her over the summer but no further context was known. The article also stated there was a belief the revamped WWE would be interested in bringing the 30-year-old back.
It is not particularly surprising that AEW reached out to Saraya when she became a free agent. It is commonplace for the promotion to attempt to acquire as much talent as possible, and the second-generation star fits that category despite not wrestling a match for five years.
One of the most influential wrestlers of her generation by way of what she accomplished in NXT and what that meant to the women's revolution in WWE, Saraya still has plenty to offer the industry.
Whether that can realistically be accomplished between the ropes, and if AEW was the right choice for her, are the more pertinent questions.
Update on Backstage Atmosphere in AEW
AEW held another talent meeting Wednesday, something that has become the norm in the wake of the controversial events of All Out, where the now-infamous media scrum involving CM Punk gave way to a backstage confrontation with The Elite's Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks that led to their suspensions.
Sapp wrote (h/t Ringside News): "A longtime AEW talent that we spoke with said the last three weeks have been much more laid back than how things were in the weeks that led up to AEW All Out. Another veteran claimed that the locker room has been the best over the last three tapings than it's been in quite a while."
He added: "An AEW source we spoke used the term 'addition by subtraction,' but wouldn't specify who they meant specifically in that regard."
It is not surprising that the absence of volatility has made for a more peaceful backstage environment in AEW. Whether that volatility was the result of Punk, The Elite or the combination of both remains to be seen when, or if, they all return to the locker room.
The situation was an incredible, albeit unfortunate, learning experience for Tony Khan and the rest of his management team. After two years of relative harmony, the company faced its first real controversy.
With the locker room reportedly in the best place it has been in months, it appears AEW has weathered the storm and is ready to move on. Whether it has permanently eliminated the root of the dissension, and if that is the real cause, remains to be seen.
Latest on White Rabbit/Bray Wyatt Expectations
WrestleVotes reported that a source within WWE expects the White Rabbit teases to culminate with the return of Bray Wyatt but also "said it’s being 'withheld' from everyone."
WWE featured QR codes in the background of Monday's Raw, leading to a website that added to the mystery surrounding the company's use of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" during commercial breaks at TV tapings and at recent house shows. The video features a game of Hangman that asks the question, "Who killed the world" before revealing "You did."
The fact that the company has drummed up the interest that it has for Friday's SmackDown with a mystery that has not played out on television is impressive. That there appears to be some creative foundation for it, before the end result winds up on the screen, is even more so.
It is also a testament to the new regime, headed by Triple H, and its willingness to work outside of a box that the previous one had become far too comfortable in.
While we won't know what the endgame is until it unfolds on TV, one would have to assume that if it isn't Wyatt, those in power would be leaking stories to downplay the possibility or outright tell people so expectations do not set up the eventual angle for failure.
Assuming it is the third-generation star, his return further bolsters the WWE roster and brings back a Superstar who never should have been released in the first place.
It also gives Wyatt an opportunity to realize his creative aspirations in a way he never would have under Vince McMahon.
Ronda Rousey Working Heel?
Dave Meltzer reported in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Ronda Rousey recently worked heel at a live event in Spokane, Washington, teaming with Shayna Baszler in a Triple Threat match for the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship.
The duo, as well as Xia Li and Shotzi, lost to then-champions Raquel Rodriguez and Aliyah.
Despite the hinted change in character, The Baddest Woman on the Planet was among the most over performers on the show, alongside Drew McIntyre and The New Day.
Anyone who has been watching WWE programming of late would likely be surprised by the idea of Rousey being portrayed as a heel given the strength of her reactions on SmackDown each week and what appears to be a character rebelling against the authority of heel official Adam Pearce.
Rousey has been an interesting case because she was experiencing the most negative reactions of her career as a babyface. Her promos weren't particularly good and the feud with Charlotte Flair was largely uninspired.
Fast-forward to the summer and Liv Morgan's Money in the Bank cash-in, the controversial conclusion to the SummerSlam match in which Rousey dominated before being pinned despite Morgan tapping out before the three-count, and you have a rejuvenated character.
Her suspension, and Pearce's perceived abuse of power, has only strengthened her on-screen persona.
Why WWE would be booking her to work heel alongside Baszler now after all of that work to get her back over with the audience is a question best left for those in power.
Do not be surprised if any attempt to turn her heel at this point is met by resistance now that the audience appreciates the no-nonsense ass-kicker she has finally become.