Backstage WWE and AEW Rumors: Latest on Rusev-Lashley, Kris Statlander and More
As the end of 2019 approaches, the WWE and AEW rumor mills continue to churn out reports about the biggest stars, most buzzworthy storylines and signings of new talent.
This week, the ongoing rivalry between Rusev, Lana and Bobby Lashley headlines the rumors and reports from industry insiders but is hardly the only topic touched on.
What did those in the know have to say about Seth Rollins, WrestleMania 36 plans for Brock Lesnar and the newest addition to AEW's women's division?
Take a look for yourself.
Vince McMahon's Reaction to the Rusev-Bobby Lashley-Lana Storyline
Paul Davis of WrestlingNews.co reported Vince McMahon loves everything about the ongoing storyline involving Rusev, Bobby Lashley and Lana, and seeing as how their segments are doing above-average television ratings, the feud will continue.
He added: "I was told that McMahon sees this storyline the way people would look over to see a car wreck. The storyline might make you cringe but you will keep watching...at least that is how McMahon feels. He also looks at the numbers for these segments and feels that Lana is generating real heel heat and not 'go away' heat. Rusev has been getting praise backstage for the work he's been doing."
The storyline started ridiculously, like something out of a C-level daytime soap opera, but it has picked up steam of late thanks to the intensity shown by Rusev in his attacks on Lashley.
The feud would seemingly be leading to a huge, pay-per-view blowoff match between Rusev and Lashley, but if the program is to continue, that may not be coming as soon as one would expect.
Perhaps the writing teams holds off and plans that match for the Royal Rumble in Houston next month rather than fast-track it for the December 15 TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view.
Either way, the storyline has at least brought a change of pace to the Raw brand, giving it a certain over-the-topness that the flagship had lacked since Braun Strowman's initial singles push around two years ago.
Seth Rollins Update
Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio reported Seth Rollins' character is intended to resemble Bret Hart from 1997, when he openly whined and complained about the fans' reactions to him, eventually turning him full-blown heel.
The problem with WWE approaching The Architect's character in such a manner is that Hart was still beloved by a significant part of the audience prior to his moaning. It was not until he started cutting those promos that he turned the fans against him in the United States.
Rollins is already behind the eight ball because audiences have turned on him. There is a large contingent of fans greeting him with loud boos as he enters arenas across the country. Why? Because his character became stale and undefined a long time ago.
Somewhere along the line, he became overexposed, overpushed and the lack of development that came along with that exposure left him as a boring character no one could really relate to. His social media missteps did not help matters.
In the long run, booking him as the company booked Hart may work, but the company has to catch up to its audience right now because they are two or three steps ahead of Vinnie Mac and Co.
Brock Lesnar's WrestleMania Plans
Alex McCarthy of TalkSport reported WWE wants a "rubber match" between Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez at WrestleMania 36 in Tampa, Florida.
Velasquez became the first mixed martial artist to defeat Lesnar in the UFC Octagon, and The Beast Incarnate tapped his rival out in mere seconds in Saudi Arabia at Crown Jewel on October 31.
Their third match would be star-studded enough to warrant a high-profile 'Mania spot, but the fact Lesnar is the WWE champion may hurt fans' acceptance of the clash.
Wrestling fans demand wrestling and the idea of Velasquez winning the title from Lesnar—no matter how much promise or potential he has between the ropes—is not appealing. In fact, such a booking decision may turn the audience against him.
Thus, if WWE Creative is hellbent on delivering that match on The Grandest Stage of Them All, it is imperative it books The Beast to drop his title before he sets foot in the ring in Tampa for that monumental showdown. Otherwise, it risks backlash that was easily avoidable.
Kris Statlander Signs with AEW
Bleacher Report's Jonathan Snowden reported on Twitter that chief brand officer Brandi Rhodes confirmed to him that All Elite Wrestling has signed Kris Statlander to a contract with the company.
Statlander, dubbed "The Galaxy's Favorite Alien" by the commentary team, was one of the hottest free-agent competitors available and seemed to have signed with WWE at one point. Early reports proved premature, though, as Statlander appeared on AEW Dark shortly thereafter.
Her signing strengthens a women's division that desperately needed it, and her confrontation with Rhodes and Awesome Kong on the December 4 episode of Dynamite suggests she will be a major player for the division in the weeks and months to come.
Lastly, her win over Hikaru Shida catapults Statlander into potential title contention, confirming that AEW values her and sees the breakout star as a potential cornerstone of the women's division going forward.