Backstage WWE and AEW Rumors: Latest on CM Punk, Seth Rollins and More
CM Punk's return on Tuesday's edition of WWE Backstage on FS1 took the wrestling world by storm and, understandably , put him at the forefront of the backstage rumor mill.
Joining The Best in the World in the headlines was Seth Rollins and the intensifying jeers that accompany him in arenas across the globe, AEW's pay-per-view plans moving forward and the status of former NXT champion Aleister Black.
Dive deeper into each of those topics and what they may mean for the individuals and entities involved with this peek behind the curtain.
CM Punk's Return to the Wrestling Business
Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com confirmed CM Punk's deal is with Fox and that he has yet to sign any kind of deal with WWE (h/t Cageside Seats).
Bryan Alvarez and Mike Sempervive of Wrestling Observer Live noted that Punk met with AEW owner Tony Khan and walked away from a significant amount of money.
Though Punk has yet to sign a deal with the E, one has to imagine it is only a matter of time before Vince McMahon, Triple H and the rest of the company's highest-ranking management begin throwing money at The Best in the World for a return match.
His opponent is not clear, but an appearance at WrestleMania, perhaps in the main event that escaped him during his first run with the company, would almost certainly be the setting.
Most interesting was the WOL report that Punk turned down a ton of money from AEW, suggesting that he may not just be seeking a big payday. It also suggests that he at least trusts WWE, what it is and has been, versus the still mostly uncertain infrastructure and future of the upstart Khan-owned promotion.
We shall see whether he made the right choice in the weeks, months and years to come.
WWE Altering Crowd's Reaction to Seth Rollins?
Randall Ortman of Cageside Seats reported that "there's been talk going around from those who attended the show that WWE altered the crowd reaction for Seth Rollins in post-production for the taped Raw show this week."
This is nothing surprising given the fact that WWE's production team has been toying with sound for the past 30 years, but it is confirmation that the company finds the reactions generated by Rollins of late to be troublesome.
The Beastslayer has been booed more than he has been cheered recently, an issue given he is supposed to be the lead babyface on the company's flagship show. John Cena once suffered from the same reactions, but at least those boos became part of the act. He fed off of them, embraced the fans' reaction and earned their respect.
Rollins isn't being booed out of respect. He is being booed because fans are tired of his one-dimensional character. They are tired of his overexposure over the past year and want something different, either out of him or altogether.
The more WWE tried to toy with audio to convince the viewing audience he is not being booed to the extent that he is, the louder those jeers become and the quicker the company finds itself with a repeat of the Roman Reigns debacle from 2015 to 2018.
AEW PPV Update
Johnson also reported that the plan remains for AEW to hold quarterly pay-per-view events going forward, with the announcement of its next show forthcoming.
He also confirmed that Double or Nothing 2 will take place over Memorial Day weekend in Las Vegas, while the company will return to Chicago on Labor Day weekend.
The quarterly plan is a smart one for AEW, if only because it allows the promotion to give its stories time to breathe. Rather than having to rush things along, officials can take their time telling stories, allowing fans to invest in them before they culminate at a big show.
That model worked for WWE in the 1980s, and given the landscape with the company's streaming network, it is a wonder Vince McMahon has not adjusted the schedule to make his PPV shows more meaningful.
What's Up with Aleister Black?
Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio reported the reason Aleister Black has remained in backstage promos is that he is nursing a knee injury. WWE officials want him on television, though, so the promos have been used to keep him out front and visible.
Black has had one of the more disappointing years of all WWE Superstars.
The former NXT champion was a main event attraction for that brand and had built an aura for himself not unlike The Undertaker's. He was menacing, intimidating and carried himself in a manner that captivated audiences.
When he arrived on the main roster, though, he was thrown into a tag team with fellow NXT star Ricochet that never made any sense. From there, he was sent to SmackDown in the Superstar Shakeup and proceeded to do nothing except cut backstage promos.
His one pay-per-view match with the blue brand, a hell of a battle with Cesaro, ranks as one of the better PPV bouts of the year. Again, though, WWE Creative failed to capitalize on his momentum.
Hopefully Black can bounce back from the mediocre year and be the star he was in NXT. With Paul Heyman at the helm of Raw, Black will get opportunities. Whether they suit him is the question.