Reviewing the Wildest Backstage WWE Rumors so Far in 2019
It isn't too hyperbolic to suggest 2019 has been the wildest year for WWE rumors, perhaps ever.
And it's only July.
This year has seen it all in a short period of time. A WrestleMania has passed, stars like Ronda Rousey have dipped off programming (yes, that was this year), competitors such as All Elite Wrestling have forced WWE into big changes, and the departure of a talent like Dean Ambrose has created a whole new level of speculation at the product atop everything else.
Looking back, the wildest rumors weren't always false in an eye-of-the-beholder sense, though they have had some interesting ramifications since they made the rounds.
These are the most noteworthy WWE rumors to emerge so far this year.
John Cena to Retire Kurt Angle
It all seemed so poetic: John Cena was going to be able to retire Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 35.
Instead, the honor went to Baron Corbin.
The Cenation Leader was the natural idea for an Angle farewell match, something reported by Wrestling Observer Radio's Dave Meltzer (h/t Randall Ortman of Cageside Seats) as a possibility with a Cena-Samoa Joe angle dead in the water.
After all, Cena made his television debut in 2002 against Angle and looked great, which eventually launched him to superstardom. That the Olympian would finish his career against Cena would have made too much sense.
This isn't saying Corbin put on a bad match with Angle, of course. It was entertaining for what it was, and The Lone Wolf himself has fallen into the criminally underrated category at this point.
Angle went out on his back for a riser as all fading stars do, but just this once, it would have been nice to see the trend bucked.
Reviving the Revival
Sasha Banks gets the big headlines from a speculation standpoint for the chances she'll end up leaving the company after her lengthy hiatus, with AEW being the expected end destination.
Perhaps more interesting, though, is the idea notable tag teams want to flee WWE as well given the flubbing of the divisions in the company lately.
Viewed through this lens, nothing was more interesting than The Revival. According to Fightful and Dave Meltzer of F4WOnline (h/t WrestlingInc.com's Marc Middleton), WWE offered the duo of Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder five-year pacts in April.
Oddly, it was hard to tell which way this was going because the two spent their prominent television time getting embarrassed by guys like The Usos.
Fast forward to present day though and the Revival are Raw tag champs and had a successful defense at Extreme Rules.
If they're sticking around, it just goes to show how wild the idea is that so many other prominent faces could decide to leave the biggest company on the block.
NXT Call-Ups to Get Television Time
Remember that really weird stretch of time when WWE called up several names from NXT and then started having guys like EC3 pop up randomly in odd backstage segments?
WWE would probably like fans to forget it, too.
According to Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Randall Ortman of Cageside Seats), though, the idea was simple: "Vince McMahon just wants the NXT call-ups to be seen on television while the creative team figures out what to do with them."
But fans knew something important at the time: being seen isn't the same as being used effectively.
This odd approach resulted in EC3's career getting buried harder than perhaps anything we've seen before. It resulted in an odd Ricochet-Aleister Black tag team and other oddities.
Ricochet and Black are just now starting to find their footing again and might recover, but the idea to just throw them on television without direction was a false start.
Drew McIntyre's Big Push
This one has popped up in various forms ad nauseam since Drew McIntyre made the jump from NXT.
McIntyre, in one form or another, has been billed for a massive push and protected because of it. Yet...the push has never arrived.
Randall Ortman of Cageside Seats reported in April that "WWE is still protecting Drew McIntyre because there are still plans for him to get a push."
This rumor arrived, by the way, after McIntyre took a loss in all of 10 minutes to a returning Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 35. And if we fast forward to present day, we've seen him mostly stripped of his usual gimmick, instead popping up alongside Shane McMahon in jeans looking like a henchman and little more.
As of this writing, this is the sort of purgatory-style loop that has prevented WWE from making new stars for a long time. McIntyre had an incredible story built into his career journey, where he joined WWE as Vince McMahon's chosen one, left the company and came back dominant.
Now, he's still merely a filler Superstar where WWE needs him and a sidekick to a part-time authority figure.
Plans for the Money in the Bank Winner
It always sounded too good to be true.
On paper, in the face of new competition from AEW and simply trying to revive ratings, WWE could have used the Money in the Bank briefcase this year to really help build a new star.
And the idea had some traction on the rumor mill, as WrestleVotes reported before the event:
"Strong push within the creative team to really have this years [sic] men's Money In The Bank winner coming out of the whole process looking like a STAR. The feeling backstage is that they have completely blown the winners and cash-ins the last two years."
Fans know how this turned out. Brock Lesnar made a surprise appearance at the end of the match and won the briefcase, swiping it from talents like Andrade and Ricochet. Written another way, it's like WWE leaned into this rumor and only threw potential new, massive stars into the match, only to have a part-timer come out and steal the briefcase for villainous-heat purposes.
As expected, Lesnar didn't lose his cash-in attempt and now has the universal title again after putting down Seth Rollins. And predictably enough, WWE is already going the rematch route by giving The Architect another shot at the champion in a prominent spot at SummerSlam.
In other words, where the briefcase could be an incredible tool capable of building new stars, it's instead regulated to rehashing things fans have already seen multiple times over and doing nothing to refresh the main event scene or have an eye on the long-term outlook.