Backstage WWE Rumors: Latest on Roman Reigns, Kurt Angle and More
The WWE rumor mill continued to churn out insights and rumors about top stars, including universal champion Roman Reigns, who headlines this week's collection of innuendo.
Was The Tribal Chief originally intended to hold onto his prize for the long term or was this meant to be another short reign for The Big Dog?
It is a question explored this week, as well as rewrites on SmackDown, a new location for the WWE ThunderDome and the latest Superstar slated to appear at Sunday's celebration of The Undertaker at Survivor Series.
Roman Reigns-Universal Championship Report
Wrestling Observer Radio's Dave Meltzer reported Roman Reigns was not originally supposed to have a long run with the Universal Championship.
It is of no real surprise that plans changed once management got a glimpse of the character he unleashed on the unsuspecting WWE Universe since his return to action at SummerSlam in August.
Reigns has been nothing short of spectacular, captivating the audience with his brooding, confident, occasionally rage-filled but family-driven and cerebral heel. He has been a breath of fresh air for a company that was, at least until his return, creatively breathless.
His work with Jey Uso has been show-stealing and produced some of the best content in any wrestling company this year.
Reigns should have a long reign, one that carries him right through to WrestleMania 37 because no one under the WWE umbrella is doing sports entertainment better than The Tribal Chief right now.
Meltzer also reported Vince McMahon ripped up the script for last Friday's SmackDown sometime "Thursday evening/Friday morning" and rewrote it to include the much-anticipated and long overdue finale to the Rey Mysterio-Seth Rollins feud.
Unfortunately, that means the wrestlers, producers and production team did not have the script until much later than expected.
In this instance, the WWE chairman's changes were for the best as the show was another in a long line of high-quality broadcasts for the blue brand. As we have witnessed over the years, that is rarely the case.
Too often, WWE shows are subject to late creative changes that throw existing storylines into upheaval, leading to incoherent angles and making for a difficult broadcast to sit through.
It was not the first time, nor will it be the last.
It is the product of a frankly out-of-touch businessman holding the keys to the creative castle, with the unchecked power to rip up whatever he pleases and introduce changes, not taking into consideration the show's consistency or how the elements he is phasing out may directly affect previously established threads.
WWE ThunderDome Update
WrestleVotes reported the plan is to move the ThunderDome to Tropicana Field in Tampa, Florida from "mid-December through 'Mania season" and that "fans at Royal Rumble are still possible..."
Weekly television from a major sports stadium would certainly give Raw and SmackDown a different feel. The question becomes whether the Royal Rumble would be staged there or if it would be moved to help make it feel more important and prestigious. Ditto WrestleMania 37, which also falls in the reported time frame.
While the Dome setting for those events feels like a given, it may lose its luster if fans are conditioned to seeing it every week—regardless of whether there is a live audience.
The potential for fans in the ThunderDome for PPV events is appealing, but one has to consider that it might not be the best option to introduce thousands of fans (even if it is a small percentage of overall capacity) when the company has repeatedly shown an inconsistency in curbing the COVID-19 threat within its own developmental system.
Kurt Angle to Appear at Survivor Series?
The 1996 Olympic gold medalist and WWE Hall of Famer joins The Godfather, Kane and Savio Vega (among others) for Sunday's celebration of The Deadman, and it's not hard to see why.
Angle is one of The Phenom's greatest opponents, dating back two decades. It was at Survivor Series 2000 that the Olympian defended the WWE title against The American Badass, narrowly escaping thanks to evil twin hijinx involving his brother, Eric.
Their best match occurred at No Way Out in February 2006, when Angle again successfully defended his title, countering Hell's Gate into a jackknife roll-up for the win.
Perhaps more importantly than a great match is what Angle meant for the evolution of The Undertaker's in-ring style.
By 2002, he had begun showing flashes of a hybrid brawling/MMA style. It manifested itself on the July 4 episode of SmackDown and gradually thereafter, really showing itself whenever he battled Angle.
Perhaps the Olympian brought out a level of comfort in his opponent that allowed him to implement the new elements of his skill set more than, say The Great Khali or even Kane. Whatever the case may be, Angle helped Taker present an arsenal that better suited an evolving wrestling industry; and for that, his influence is invaluable.