Backstage WWE and AEW Rumors: Latest on Roman Reigns, Sasha and Naomi and More
Much has been made of Roman Reigns' status as a full-time performer moving forward lately, but thanks to a recent report, fans now have an answer to whether they can expect him to show up every week or go the way of Brock Lesnar and pop up from time to time.
The Tribal Chief headlines a collection of rumors that also features the Clash at the Castle main event, the latest on Sasha Banks and Naomi's controversial walkout and just how accurate WWE's initial statement was, and an update on MJF's contract negotiations with All Elite Wrestling.
Dive into each topic and find out what it means for those involved with these latest insider reports.
Roman Reigns to Remain Full Time
Andrew Zarian reported on Wrestling Observer Live that Undisputed WWE Universal champion Roman Reigns will remain a full-time performer for WWE under his new deal, with the only change being his absence from smaller market house shows and the occasional time off.
This is welcome news for a company that cannot afford to lose its top star for any extended period of time.
Reigns is the undisputed top attraction in the company and the Superstar around whom SmackDown is built. The show has a limited number of genuine stars beyond him and would suffer significantly if he limited his schedule to a part-time basis, like Brock Lesnar.
Broadcaster Fox would not be happy, and fans would almost certainly have less motivation to tune into the show.
That may be an indictment on WWE Creative for not putting in the work to ensure there are others who can step up in Reigns' place, but it is also a testament to The Tribal Chief for crafting the character that he is. He is so over that the company has placed all of its cards in the middle and remains wholly invested in him.
He figures to be factored into every major storyline WWE has through to WrestleMania 39 in Los Angeles, where he may finally have that long-awaited dream match with The Rock; a contest befitting his status as the most prominent WWE Superstar of his generation.
Clash at the Castle Main Event
If you thought Drew McIntyre may be next in line to challenge Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship, think again.
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Lewis Howse of Cultaholic) says the working plan is for the Scot to challenge Reigns for the universal title on Sept. 3 at Clash at the Castle, in Cardiff, Wales.
The heat would be off the charts and the atmosphere magical. McIntyre would be treated like a Celtic hero, hellbent on dethroning the most dominant champion since Hulk Hogan. It would feel like a big deal and a match befitting a stadium show.
The question is how WWE keeps each man busy before their showdown, particularly because it has already planted the seeds by way of their involvement in the six-man tag team match at WrestleMania Backlash.
Does WWE ask fans to just put that feud on pause, but keep it in the back of their mind so that it can be revisited months from now?
Or is McIntyre vs. Reigns a match that still happens at Money in the Bank in Las Vegas or SummerSlam in Nashville, Tennessee, only for the blowoff to the feud to occur in Cardiff?
It bears watching but if there is one certainty, it's that a match between McIntyre and Reigns will be deserving of a PPV headliner.
More on Sasha Banks and Naomi
Contrary to WWE's official statement regarding women's tag team champions Sasha Banks and Naomi walking out of Monday's Raw, Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful noted those he has spoken to did not hear anything about either woman expressing concern for their safety over working with certain individuals.
"To the contrary, we were told that the issue was about the creative surrounding the tag team championships and those being de-emphasized in the following weeks, with no laid out follow-up after Hell in a Cell," he wrote.
It is still possible those concerns were raised but had not made it back to the talent themselves, but there appears to be consistency in reporting between Sapp and PWInsider.com's Mike Johnson that creative concerns over the treatment of Banks, Naomi and the women's tag titles were at the center of the conflict that led to the talent departing Raw before their scheduled match.
Perhaps WWE was trying to get ahead of any potential story by painting the women in a negative light. Maybe there is truth to it that has yet to be uncovered. Whatever the case may be, WWE is now without its women's tag team champions.
Unfortunately, that does not quite mean as much as it should considering the booking of those titles since their inception in 2018.
Therein lies the problem and just what Banks and Naomi were fighting for before leaving the arena Monday.
MJF Contract Extension
MJF has been vocal about his contract coming up in 2024 and what he expects to be a bidding war for his services between AEW and WWE. But Sapp reported there have yet to be any formal contract discussions between The Salt of the Earth and Tony Khan.
It is still very early, but one would assume president Tony Khan and AEW would want to get the ball rolling given MJF's status in the company.
The scarf-wearing loudmouth has been a prominent part of the show and one of the pillars on which the company has built its future. Feuds with Cody Rhodes, Darby Allin, Jon Moxley and CM Punk helped elevate him while his perpetual overness as the most hated man in the company is single-handedly helping to make a star out of Wardlow.
He is incredibly valuable to the company and a massive star in waiting. There is no chance Khan will risk losing him to a big-money offer from WWE, which would love nothing more than to take MJF from the competition and position as one of the premier heels on its shows.
So much time has already been spent on pushing him to considerable heights that it would behoove Khan and Co. to get a deal in place well beyond the conclusion of the contract.
If MJF decides he wants to test the market closer to 2024, so be it, but there should be a deal ready to go as soon as he becomes a free agent.