Backstage WWE and AEW Rumors: Latest on Goldberg, Damian Priest and More
On the road to its Royal Rumble pay-per-view, WWE swerved its audience by producing Goldberg to challenge WWE champion Drew McIntyre at the annual extravaganza.
But was the veteran always slated to square off with the face of Raw upon his return to the company? And what about that nonsensical promo he rambled off at the conclusion of Monday's show to set up the match?
Those two topics are at the forefront of a rumor mill that also features the latest on a potential main roster call-up, the status of one of the sport's most decorated champions and news on an All Elite Wrestling venue change.
Latest on Goldberg's Return to Raw, Match with Drew McIntyre
Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio reported that, despite early build to a Goldberg-Roman Reigns match, the decision to go with Drew McIntyre instead was made because WWE officials did not believe they had anyone ready to challenge The Scottish Warrior at the Royal Rumble.
Meltzer also suggested the McIntyre-Keith Lee main event on Monday's Raw ran long, leading to the company scrapping the WWE champion's promo and Goldberg confusingly responding to words never spoken. Hence the veteran's insistence that the Scot disrespected the legends when that was most definitely not the case.
The newly proposed Royal Rumble main event is essentially an admission from WWE that it hasn't done an effective enough job of building challengers for McIntyre, something that anyone watching the show for the past year could tell you.
Outside of the Randy Orton feud, the titleholder's programs have been stopgaps of sorts; one-offs rather than lengthy story arcs aimed at really establishing him as the unquestioned face of WWE.
Now, McIntyre is preparing for a showdown with a WWE icon who has struggled to keep up with even his fellow legends and the very real possibility he loses to the 54-year-old at one of the biggest shows of the year.
It is not a favorable position for the Scot or WWE to find themselves in entering a WrestleMania season without any obvious or notable programs on the horizon.
Damian Priest Heading to the Main Roster?
According to Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful Select, Damian Priest was scheduled for a main roster call-up on the January 1 episode of SmackDown but had his debut delayed for an unknown reason.
This follows a report from WrestleVotes that said, "NXT talent was slated to be called up to SmackDown last week, as of showtime, was written into the main event segment w/ Reigns, Uso & KO. Said talent is on tonight's big NXT card so curious to see if it was pushed a week or scrapped altogether."
Priest has emerged as one of the most consistent in-ring performers in NXT, with an in-ring style reminiscent of Scott Hall but a fearlessness to sail over the top rope not unlike Rey Mysterio.
Wins in big matches have been hard to come by for The Archer of Infamy as NXT focuses on building other stars to serve the brand on a more long-term basis, though. With his look and ability, it is no real surprise that WWE officials would be eager to have him join the main roster.
Whether that is a positive for Priest depends on whether WWE Creative has plans for him or is simply trying to make a splash in the new year.
A high-profile feud with Roman Reigns and Jey Uso is certainly a hot way to start one's career. The question remains whether WWE officials would have enough creative juice to sustain Priest's push in the long term, which is a consistent issue with most call-ups.
Mickie James Update
The five-time WWE women's champion was last seen on Monday's Raw, where she was hanging out with Sgt. Slaughter and Tatanka before finding herself the object of Angel Garza's affection.
The report stated James is still considered an active wrestler and has been cleared for a return to action.
She is still an asset to WWE's women's division and it's disappointing to see her so underutilized, especially as the Raw women's division continues to be bogged down by repetitive matches.
James working with Lacey Evans and Peyton Royce to help strengthen their in-ring game and elevate them would be a wise move, while matches with Nikki Cross and Reckoning could be fun.
Instead, she waits for a call to action that may come too late to take full advantage of her value to the company and its flagship show.
AEW Location Move
Cassidy Haynes of Bodyslam.net reported AEW plans to leave Daily's Place next month.
The report cited deteriorating weather, including wrestlers' dislike for working in "sub-freezing" temperatures, as the primary reason for the move. It was also suggested that a change of scenery would be good.
Haynes reported the switch would take up the whole of next month and incorporate the Revolution pay-per-view on February 27.
As was the case with WWE when it left the Performance Center and created the ThunderDome, a change of venue is good for both the company and the fans watching at home. It freshens things up aesthetically, if nothing else.
Daily's Place has been good to AEW, giving it the opportunity to run several angles involving the Jacksonville Jaguars' home field next door, but a temporary move before returning to the venue will suit all involved.