Backstage WWE Rumors: Latest on The Undertaker, Aleister Black and More
The Undertaker returned to Raw on Monday night and immediately found himself booked for the Extreme Rules pay-per-view on July 14. Thanks to the backstage rumor mill, we have an idea of the reasoning behind his re-emergence from the Dark Side.
The Deadman's return is only one of the buzz-worthy topics given a Superstar with the potential to supplant him as the mystical entity of WWE's future finally appears poised to return to the squared circle.
Find out which Superstar Aleister Black could be standing across the ring from sooner rather than later and what is going on with Rusev in this week's journey through rumors and speculation.
Randall Ortman of Cageside Seats reported that, while it may appear obvious, The Undertaker's return to television is meant to boost ratings and interest in the Extreme Rules pay-per-view.
The Deadman returned Monday on Raw, rescuing Roman Reigns from a beatdown at the hands of Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre despite having zero rhyme or reason to. Taking that into account, Undertaker's role on the road to Extreme Rules is incredibly transparent.
Yet again, WWE Creative is trying to mask its shortcomings by dipping into the vat of Attitude Era icons whose best days are a full decade behind them. Completely ignoring the borderline embarrassing showing against Goldberg at Super ShowDown earlier in June, the writing team has dusted off The Deadman as a way to appease fans who have otherwise grown tired of its complacency and subpar storytelling.
For nostalgia reasons, seeing The Phenom walk the aisle for another war between the ropes will never get old. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the man behind the iconic character, and with every below-average performance, a bit of his aura fades.
Luckily for him, Reigns and McIntyre will do most of the heavy lifting, allowing Undertaker to hit his signature stuff and send fans home happy. If he can execute everything better than he did against Goldberg, that is, when his trademark Tombstone Piledriver nearly ended in disaster as his opponent's head was driven into the canvas.
What Is Rusev's Status with WWE?
According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio, Rusev's WWE deal is nearing its end and he has asked for a leave of absence from the company.
This would explain his nonexistent role on SmackDown of late and Shinsuke Nakamura's impending return to singles competition as the next challenger to Finn Balor's Intercontinental Championship.
Rusev has been open about his frustrations with WWE on social media, recently taking a shot at Shane McMahon's television exposure at the expense of the main-roster Superstars.
It should be of no real surprise The Bulgarian Brute would be irritated and frustrated by his lack of push over the past year. Heading into WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans, he had managed to get over his Rusev Day gimmick to such an extent that tens of thousands of fans filled the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with chants in support of it.
He developed into one of the genuine surprise babyface characters before having his momentum cut off and his push killed for reasons that have not been explained or make sense.
It should be interesting to see what direction Rusev goes in next because a return to WWE does not appear to be in the cards, no matter how much money or how many years it throws at him when the parties next negotiate.
Aleister Black's Next Opponent Revealed?
WrestleVotes recently reported Aleister Black is expected to work Extreme Rules on July 14, and his opponent is scheduled to be Cesaro.
Black has cut a month of strong promos regarding his desire for competition, and on Tuesday's episode of SmackDown Live, someone finally knocked on his door.
Cesaro is an intriguing first opponent, mostly due to the in-ring product that would result. The Swiss Superman is a top-10 talent who has demonstrated an ability to have great matches with everyone. Black was consistently one of the MVPs of NXT during his time with the brand, with his in-ring work ranking among that of the best wrestlers on the planet.
A tweet by Buddy Murphy on Wednesday, though, hinted that he is the Superstar who will step up to Black first.
Like Cesaro, but on a smaller scale as a member of the 205 Live roster, Murphy has wowed audiences with his consistent excellence.
At a time when WWE Creative appears uncertain when it comes to any of the aforementioned Superstars, including Black, there are far worse options than letting them tear down the house in competitive matches that bring work rate to each show on which they appear.