Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.
Who Reportedly Knew About Punk's WWE Backstage Appearance?
CM Punk's appearance on Tuesday night's episode of WWE Backstage on FS1 was reportedly a surprise to many on the show.
According to PWInsider (h/t WrestlingInc.com's Marc Middleton), host Renee Young was the only on-air talent who knew Punk would be appearing near the end of the show. That means the likes of Booker T, Paige, Adam Cole and Samoa Joe were reportedly left in the dark:
PWInsider also reported that while Punk's deal for WWE Backstage is with Fox, WWE gave its blessing for him to appear on the show.
Per WrestlingInc.com's Joshua Gagnon, WWE released a statement saying Punk will make "select appearances" on WWE Backstage as a special contributor and analyst.
Punk hadn't been seen on WWE programming since leaving the company after the 2014 Royal Rumble, and while he is technically working for Fox, the fact that he is set to be part of a WWE-related show alongside WWE-contracted talent suggests there could be more to the relationship moving forward.
Not surprisingly, Punk's appearance on WWE Backstage generated a huge reaction on social media, which could galvanize WWE to go to even greater lengths to get Punk to eventually appear on Raw, SmackDown or even NXT.
With AEW emerging as competition, it can be argued that there is nothing bigger WWE can do to swing the momentum fully in its favor than convincing Punk to return in an in-ring capacity, even if it's on a part-time basis or for a one-off match.
WWE boasts a ton of talent Punk has never worked with before, and there is no shortage of dream matches at their disposal if the two sides can come to an agreement on something beyond WWE Backstage.
Gargano Talks Missing NXT TakeOver: WarGames
Ryan Satin appeared on Tuesday's episode of WWE Backstage and reported that due to a neck injury, Johnny Gargano will be unable to compete at NXT TakeOver: WarGames next week:
Following that announcement, Johnny Wrestling took to Twitter to express his disappointment that he won't be part of the show:
Johnny Gargano @JohnnyGargano
Full honesty.. I'm really proud of our team but sitting back and watching the NXT crew represent on RAW and Smackdown from the sidelines has been hard. My silver lining was the hope I had that I'd be able to make it back for TakeOver.. but that's not the case. I'm heartbroken. https://t.co/CF7hgv3xw1
Gargano hasn't been seen on NXT since three weeks ago when Finn Balor shockingly turned heel by attacking him. That seemed to set the stage for a grudge match at TakeOver: WarGames, but the match won't be happening at that show.
In addition to missing WarGames, Gargano has not been part of NXT's recent invasion of Raw and SmackDown, which means he will not represent the yellow brand at Survivor Series either.
Gargano has long been the heart and soul of NXT, so he would have been an obvious fit for NXT's Survivor Series team. He has also made a habit of stealing the show at TakeOvers, which is something he and Balor may have been able to do.
No timetable was provided for Gargano's return, but one can only assume that he will have his sights set on Balor whenever he is cleared to compete.
As for Balor, there is no obvious spot for him on the NXT TakeOver card, but he has been teasing involvement with Undisputed Era and The OC, so perhaps he will play a role at Survivor Series instead.
Ali Undergoes Another Name Change
Eight months after having his name shortened from Mustafa Ali to Ali, the former 205 Live star apparently has a full name again.
Ali took to Twitter on Wednesday to announce that he will once again be known as Mustafa Ali:
The change was also made on Ali's official WWE.com profile, which suggests that the change is more than just wishful thinking on Ali's part.
WWE has had a penchant in recent years for shortening names without warning and without any real reason. Ali was the latest Superstar to experience it, but he was far from the first.
Cesaro (Antonio Cesaro), Rusev (Alexander Rusev) and Big E (Big E Langston) are just a few of the WWE Superstars who saw their names shrink over the years.
While going from Ali back to Mustafa Ali doesn't necessarily guarantee anything for the talented aerialist, it may be a positive development ahead of his inclusion on the SmackDown men's Survivor Series team.
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