Samoa Joe's WWE Commentary Future, Nigel McGuinness' Status, IC Title Tourney

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 29, 2020

TOKYO,JAPAN - JUNE 29: Samoa Joe enters the ring during the WWE Live Tokyo at Ryogoku Kokugikan on June 29, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.

    

Joe Reportedly a 'Permanent' Member of Raw Commentary Team

Samoa Joe has served as a commentator on WWE Raw for the past several weeks alongside Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton, and there is reportedly no end in sight when it comes to his new role.

According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t WrestlingInc.com's Marc Middleton), WWE considers Joe to be a permanent replacement for Jerry "The King" Lawler on the Raw commentary team.

Joe has been out injured since February after reportedly suffering a concussion during a WWE commercial shoot and it isn't yet known if or when he will be cleared to compete. Provided that happens, Meltzer noted that Joe could be used as a part-time announcer and wrestler.

Meltzer also reported that it is possible that Joe could go back to wrestling full time at some point if WWE feels it runs into depth issues on the Raw roster.

The 41-year-old Samoa Joe has accomplished a great deal during his wrestling career with companies such as Ring of Honor, TNA and WWE. He held the top title in both ROH and TNA, and he was a two-time NXT champion during his time with WWE's black and yellow brand as well.

Joe has been plagued by injuries on the main roster, but he is a two-time United States champion and has had memorable feuds and matches against the likes of Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Rey Mysterio.

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One can only assume that Joe would like to get back in the fray and vie for a world title at some point if possible, but until that happens, he has shown that he is very much capable of telling a story and putting over other Superstars on commentary.

   

McGuinness Reportedly Furloughed by WWE in April

NXT color commentator Nigel McGuinness has not appeared on WWE programming during the coronavirus pandemic, and it is now known why.

According to Meltzer (h/t WrestlingInc.com's Raj Giri), McGuinness was furloughed by WWE last month as part of wide-ranging budget cuts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

WWE announced the release of several Superstars, and while it didn't officially announce who was furloughed, it later came out that many non-wrestlers were laid off. That includes several backstage producers, such as Shane Helms, Fit Finlay, Mike Rotunda and Lance Storm.

Aiden English, who announced primarily on 205 Live, was released from WWE rather than being furloughed, but he likely had a different contract since he wrestled for WWE before transitioning to commentary.

During the pandemic, Phillips and Saxton initially served as the NXT announce team in place of Mauro Ranallo, Beth Phoenix and McGuinness, but Ranallo and Phoenix returned a few weeks ago and began providing commentary remotely.

McGuinness has not been part of the commentary despite the fact that he, Ranallo and Phoenix were the regular announce team before the coronavirus pandemic.

Before joining WWE as an announcer in 2017, McGuinness wrestled all over the world, including with the ROH and TNA promotions. He also cut his teeth as an announcer with ROH prior to making the leap to WWE.

McGuinness was an NXT commentator for much of his WWE run, and he also provided commentary on NXT UK, 205 Live and Main Event at various times.

It is unclear whether WWE plans to bring McGuinness back once the COVID-19 pandemic slows, but Meltzer noted that furloughed employees maintain their seniority with the company provided WWE decides to retain them.

   

IC Title Tourney Final Receives Rave Reviews

The Intercontinental Championship tournament has played out on SmackDown over the past couple of weeks, and the winner has reportedly already been decided.

According to Fightful (h/t H Jenkins of Ringside News), the final match of the tournament was taped Tuesday at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, and it was described as "unbelievable."

While it wasn't revealed who competed in that match, the semifinal matches are Daniel Bryan vs. Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles vs. Elias. When the brackets were first officially announced, most assumed that Bryan and Styles would meet in the finals.

If that happens, it is easy to envision them putting on an incredible match. They are two of the best in-ring workers in the world and have already shown they have plenty of chemistry, as they feuded over the WWE Championship early last year.

Bryan cut a passionate promo about the IC title and what it means to him following his first-round win over Drew Gulak. Meanwhile, the IC title is one of the few championships Styles hasn't won in WWE, and he was officially moved from Raw to SmackDown in order to vie for it.

If the finals of the tournament end up being Bryan vs. Styles and that match airs on SmackDown, then it could help the blue brand produce one of its best shows in recent memory on Fox.

     

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