Backstage WWE and AEW Rumors: Latest on Ronda Rousey, Shayna Baszler, More
Not all that long ago, Ronda Rousey was the biggest star in professional wrestling.
She headlined pay-per-views, won championships and was instrumental in making Becky Lynch the bona fire superstar she became at WrestleMania 35.
Since that fateful night in East Rutherford, New Jersey, though, the wrestling world has heard nary a peep from The Baddest Woman on the Planet.
What gives? Where is she, and when might fans expect to see her back in a WWE ring?
Those questions are at the center of this week's wrestling rumor mill. As is the status of her real-life friend and fellow Four Horsewoman Shayna Baszler, whose push appears to have stalled post-WrestleMania 36.
COVID-19 Restrictions to Hamper WWE, AEW Stars' Travel Plans?
Randall Ortman of Cageside Seats on Wednesday reported Connecticut, New York and New Jersey are placing travel restrictions on talent from other states with high COVID-19 rates. As a result, that could greatly affect both WWE and All Elite Wrestling, who have talent living in those states.
WWE's corporate offices are located in Connecticut, making it an even stickier situation for the promotion.
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported AEW feels as though it can get around any potential travel bans because of the level of their testing procedures before every show, though that is not a certainty.
When you take into consideration that multiple people within WWE have tested positive for COVID-19, including Renee Young—thus affecting husband and AEW world champion Jon Moxley's availability—one has to wonder how much longer the top two wrestling promotions in the industry can continue to produce shows in the manner they have since the shutdown in March.
Is it time to change things up and maybe even sit out for a while as the major sporting leagues have done? Perhaps one (or both) can go to a studio-based setting like the old Prime Time Wrestling shows, using a few guests each week to spice things up and advance storylines without risking exposure to the whole roster.
Whatever the case may be, the coronavirus has engulfed Florida, where WWE's Performance Center is located, resulting in record-high numbers on a seemingly daily basis. Producing shows from the state may not be feasible for much longer.
Update on Shayna Baszler's WWE Push
Ortman also reported that CEO Vince McMahon has soured on Shayna Baszler and original plans for a major push have been tabled.
This should not be of any surprise to anyone who has followed the whimsical nature of McMahon over the years. He falls in and out of love with Superstars on his roster quicker than two kids in the midst of a high school fling.
He is devoted to pushing a star at one point and then abandons them at without notice, leaving them to wallow in the inconsistency and dark abyss that is obscurity within WWE.
The Queen of Spades exploded on to the scene earlier this year and was the subject of the most dominant, one-sided Elimination Chamber match in WWE history. Then she lost the Raw Women's Championship match at WrestleMania and was involved in the Money in the Bank Ladder match in May before disappearing from television altogether.
She has not been seen or heard from since that glorified food fight inside Titan Towers.
That is a huge indictment on McMahon as, yet again, Triple H essentially gift-wrapped Baszler for him.
The father of NXT took Baszler, put her on a three-year tear and built her into the most dominant force the black and yellow brand had ever seen before handing her over to McMahon and Co. Like he has done so many other times with NXT exports, McMahon fumbled the push, and now Baszler is just another face in a crowded Raw women's division.
SummerSlam Plans for WWE Champion Drew McIntyre
Tom Colohue of Sportskeeda reported that, while recent booking may point to Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam, the company is still planning a McIntyre-Brock Lesnar WrestleMania 36 rematch at the summertime spectacular.
WWE has not missed the opportunity to book WrestleMania rematches in the main event of SummerSlam in recent years, particularly when they include The Beast Incarnate.
In 2018, Lesnar put over Roman Reigns after defeating The Big Dog at 'Mania 34 and then did the favor for Seth Rollins the following year despite losing the title to The Architect at WrestleMania 35.
Who knows what this year will hold for Lesnar.
After a five-minute main event loss to McIntyre at this year's Showcase of the Immortals, he could easily roll into SummerSlam, dethrone The Scottish Psychopath and set up a third showdown between the two.
Or he could put McIntyre over stronger, solidifying him as the face of the brand going forward.
One would hope Option 2 would be more likely, especially as the company looks for consistency in uncertain times. But never underestimate WWE's desire to chase television ratings by going back to the same old, same old.
What's the Latest on Ronda Rousey?
Meltzer also reported in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Ronda Rousey is unlikely to appear on WWE television again, at least until WrestleMania 37 and that even that might be a long shot.
If true, that is seriously disappointing.
Like Rousey or not, there is no denying that she took to the professional wrestling business quicker than most, enjoying a rookie year that was on par with Kurt Angle's in terms of excellence. She captured gold, headlined WrestleMania and helped make Becky Lynch the star she became.
Rousey was an asset to WWE and someone whose star power would be even more valuable to the company at this point in time. Imagine the work she could do with Asuka, both lending her star to Raw while elevating The Empress of Tomorrow to heights she has not reached on the main roster.
A submission match between the two would be damn fun, if nothing else.
As it is, it appears as though WWE will be down another one of its most recognizable faces for the foreseeable future, forcing it to re-evaluate the talent it has on its roster and make new stars if it wishes to weather the current storm.