Backstage WWE and AEW Rumors: Latest on Ronda Rousey, Budget Cuts and More
Just days from WrestleMania 36, the potential return of a former Raw women's champion headlines the WWE rumor mill.
"Rowdy" Ronda Rousey has been conspicuous by her absence since losing to Becky Lynch in the main event of WrestleMania 35, but a new report suggests her hiatus may soon be ending.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit everyone hard, including wrestling's two most prominent promotions. Might the lack of income from live events lead to budget cuts?
Find out the answer to that question and more with this week in rumors and innuendo.
Ronda Rousey's Rowdy Return
Tom Colohue of Sportskeeda reported Ronda Rousey is nearing a deal with WWE that would see her return to the company sooner rather than later.
Rousey was one of the company’s few legitimate crossover stars who could bring extra eyes to the product. Like Brock Lesnar, her history as a bona fide box office attraction in the UFC made her a valuable asset to WWE.
While it seems unlikely she would negotiate a contract that has her working quite as much as the last one, her return will be welcome for a company always seeking star power.
Add to that the fact that Rousey has unfinished business with Becky Lynch, who was the only woman to beat her during her WWE run, and you have even more reason for the company to welcome back Rowdy with open arms.
Despite all the criticism fans leveled at Rousey, it was apparent that she loved wrestling, that she took it seriously and that she approached it from a position of respect. Her return should be anticipated by fans who have all too often seen athletes from other arenas come in and fail to show sports entertainment that same respect.
Explaining Kairi Sane's Absence
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported Kairi Sane was unavailable for recent WWE tapings because she was in Japan celebrating her marriage. This would be why Asuka carried the promotion of The Kabuki Warriors' tag team title defense against Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross over the past month.
Sane did, however, make it back in time to work her scheduled match at WrestleMania.
It makes sense that the 2017 Mae Young Classic winner would want to spend time in her home country with her new husband, particularly given the uncertainty engulfing the world.
While it is unfortunate that she missed out on the build to her first major WrestleMania match, she has the opportunity to hit the ring refreshed and ready to perform up to the level an event of this magnitude deserves—even if she can no longer utilize a pirate ship as part of a grand entrance.
WWE to Take a Break?
WrestleVotes reported, "Rumors around the PC last week were that if the state of FL issued a Stay Home order, which happened today, WWE would reconsider taking a break post Mania." Furthermore, "The Raw after is shot. I've been told if they are pausing for a while, some footage shot won't be aired."
Should WWE decide to take a break, it would be a monumental moment in the sports-entertainment industry.
To this point, CEO Vince McMahon has been almost defiant in the face of the pandemic, running shows with a skeleton crew just to get to WrestleMania. There are arguments both for and against (far more against) holding the biggest event of the year, but deciding to shut things down in its aftermath essentially prohibits the company from building on any creative momentum that comes from the show.
Which raises the question fans have asked for weeks: Why not just postpone WrestleMania until after the pandemic settles down?
That the company might not air footage it has already filmed suggests a creative refresh would be in store. If there is such a thing as a positive in this situation, it may be that.
AEW Tapes Jon Moxley vs. Jake Hager Ahead of Time
On Wednesday's edition of Dynamite, All Elite Wrestling officially announced Jon Moxley vs. Jake Hager for the AEW World Heavyweight Championship in a No Disqualification match for the April 15 broadcast. According to commentator Jim Ross on Wrestling Observer Radio, that match may have taken place during March 25's tapings.
No one can fault AEW for being proactive in the face of uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. Recording content, as we have seen with WWE, is the safest way to ensure you can present a show even if the local, state or federal government shuts things down.
With that said, Moxley vs. Hager should be a pay-per-view main event, not a match wasted on free television. Yes, it is not known whether AEW will be able to present its Double or Nothing event from the MGM Grand on May 23 as originally intended.
Still, there is plenty of mileage to get out of that feud, particularly the Hager character, which still feels largely untapped.
At a time when every form of entertainment has slowed down, why rush something that could have a greater impact on your product?