Backstage WWE and AEW Rumors: Latest on Big E, CM Punk and More

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2021

Backstage WWE and AEW Rumors: Latest on Big E, CM Punk and More

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    Big E is your new WWE champion, but just how late in the process was it before the company decided it wanted to pull the proverbial trigger on the powerhouse of the New Day capturing the gold?

    That topic headlines a collection of rumors that also sheds a light on Fox's willingness to help sign one of the blockbuster talents who recently joined All Elite Wrestling.

    Who was it, and how close were we to seeing a reunion between said performer and WWE?

    Find out now.

Update on the Timing of Big E's WWE Championship Victory

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    The most historic moment of Big E's professional life, the cash-in that earned him the WWE Championship Monday night on Raw, was reportedly decided on as late as Friday's SmackDown.

    Steve Carrier of Ringside News said "We were told that the call to move up the WWE Title match was made 'shortly after Raw' last week. The choice for Big E's cash-in didn't come around until SmackDown's show at MSG."

    Big E's victory Monday night was met with overwhelming positivity across social media and helped ignite a Raw brand that had been in the doldrums.

    His win over Bobby Lashley for the WWE Championship not only made history (Big E is just the sixth Black wrestler to capture that title) but also created a buzz for the flagship show just one week after it was beaten in the key 18-49 ratings demographic by AEW Dynamite.

    Big E has been poised for success from the moment he left New Day a little more than a year ago. The former powerlifter had a big moment at Christmas, when he defeated Sami Zayn on SmackDown for the Intercontinental Championship and then added to his accomplishments with a Money in the Bank victory.

    Now the top champion on the red brand, where he figures to become a permanent fixture, Big E has been handed the ball by WWE officials and should have the opportunity to run with it. His charisma, intensity and humor make him a well-rounded character while his in-ring work against athletes of all styles and sizes will result in quality work at the top of the card.

Fox Offered to Help WWE Re-Sign CM Punk

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    Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter recently reported Fox offered to help WWE sign CM Punk prior to AEW signing the former WWE world champion. This came after the promotion balked at what it considered an overly expensive asking price.

    It is understandable that Fox would want someone with Punk's name value on WWE programming. As the major television rightsholder for SmackDown, for which it is paying $1 billion, the company would naturally want WWE to load up on stars.

    Imagine Punk heading to the blue brand and confronting Roman Reigns, thus setting up a program over the WWE Championship. Think about what might have happened had he come back and targeted Edge or jumpstarted a rivalry with Seth Rollins, one of the last competitors he worked with prior to his exit seven years ago.

    The options were plentiful, but none came to pass.

    With Fox offering to help foot the bill for The Second City Saint, it appears as though Punk's failure to return to WWE came down to one of two things: the performer's lack of desire to go back to a company he does not trust to do right by him or, perhaps more importantly, WWE simply did not want him back.

Update on NXT 2.0

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    Andrew Zarian of Mat Men Pro Wrestling Podcast recently tweeted that, according to a source, WWE will roll with the name NXT 2.0 for the foreseeable future because "they want people to know this is a whole new NXT."

    The first episode of the brand's relaunch saw the debuts of Bron Breakker, Trick Williams and Ivy Nile, as well as increased roles for Carmelo Hayes and Von Wagner. We saw a new look/attitude for Mandy Rose and the continuation of the rivalry between Hit Row and Llegado del Fantasma too.

    The show had a lot going on without much of an explanation as to why all the new faces were involved or what their stories were. It is a trend that will have to change if fans are expected to care about any of them, but it was a step in the right direction for a brand that had become stale and rather uneventful over the past year.

    The color splash, the lighting and the new-look arena helped with the renewed vibe. Now it will be up to creative to shore up a few things in the name of reinvigorating the entity.