Backstage WWE and AEW Rumors: Latest on Apollo Crews, Henry Cejudo and More
The wrestling rumor mill churned out more than a few interesting tidbits this week as both WWE and All Elite Wrestling prepare for the summer months, including a report on new United States champion Apollo Crews.
After enduring a long and arduous road on the main roster, is the super-athlete finally on his way to sustained success on Monday Night Raw and if so, what input did Vince McMahon have on the decision to reinvigorate the character?
We recently saw Henry Cejudo, former UFC bantamweight champion, pop up on AEW TV as a fan and accomplice to Mike Tyson. Is he potentially looking to follow suit with Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez by making the transition to the squared circle?
Find out the answer to those two questions and more with this recap of all things rumor and innuendo.
A Second Chance for Apollo Crews
Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Live reported Vince McMahon has opted to give Apollo Crews a second chance, as reflected in his United States Championship victory over Andrade on Monday's Raw.
Meltzer continued, revealing that everyone expected Crews to be a huge star for the company but the early call-up and rushed nature of his handling early hurt him.
There's no denying that Crews was not ready when he was called up to the main roster back in 2016. He was rushed onto Raw, was never developed from a character standpoint and quickly descended into the deep, dark abyss of midcard mediocrity.
Now with a renewed push and some actual creative effort behind him, Crews is thriving. Hopefully, for his sake, those in power do not consider the US title to be all the firepower he needs from a character standpoint to stay over with crowds.
History tells us titles are not Band-Aids for bad creative. Considering how fragile Crews' popularity with the fan base is right, the creative team will need to continue bringing the character along with story arcs and character work or risk him falling right back in the rut he was in before, with no opportunity to pull him out this time.
Henry Cejudo Signing with AEW?
Former UFC bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo may have appeared on both AEW Double or Nothing and Dynamite but, according to ESPN's Marc Raimondi, most suspect he is simply angling for a bigger UFC contract.
UFC announced last week that it considered Cejudo retired before stripping him of his bantamweight title. His appearance alongside Mike Tyson on Wednesday's show had some buzzing but at this point, it does not look like the mixed martial artist is eyeing a run in the pro wrestling ring.
And if he was, there is no guarantee AEW would have any interest. After all, it has an expanding roster full of young, hungry talent that it has done a superb job of highlighting to this point. Sacrificing their screen time for a UFC competitor, no matter how successful or recognizable he is, would be to the detriment of the fresh faces it has built its future around.
Matt Riddle to SmackDown?
Riddle is being shipped to the blue brand, instead of Raw, to keep him away from Brock Lesnar, with whom The Original Bro has had a run-in with in the past.
Riddle's call-up is long overdue. Yes, he had success in NXT but he has always felt more larger-than-life than his peers there. He has that rare "it" factor that you cannot teach and a personality tailor-made for the bright lights of Fox network.
A skilled mat wrestler, and one of the more underrated technical wrestlers on the planet, Riddle should succeed on SmackDown. In fact, as long as he can keep from infuriating the bosses, do not be surprised if he quickly becomes one of the faces of that brand alongside Braun Strowman, Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns.
He is that talented and has the potential to connect with audiences in a way few can.
Sami Zayn Update
Meltzer stayed busy this week, finally reporting in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Sami Zayn is expected to work a program with whoever wins the Intercontinental Championship Tournament.
From a storytelling standpoint, it makes sense. Zayn never lost the title. He had it ripped away from him while he opted to practice social distancing like a responsible human being. Now, he has to watch someone else claim his prize and he would understandably want revenge.
Given the talent still left, such as Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles, the potential matches would be fantastic and really help establish the IC title as the "worker's title" once again.