Welcome back to my Sunday Notes column for the WWE. There is a lot to cover as there has been a ton of news involving current and former WWE performers. So, let’s get to it.
- If you are unaware, @Paige brought to light this week a bullying incident involving a 9-year-old boy from Australia. In a post that went viral (13 million views) on Twitter, the victim whose name is Quaden Bayles, was contemplating suicide as a result of bullying from classmates. Quaden suffers from a form of dwarfism. Paige invited Quaden to be her guest at Wrestlemania 36. A Go Fund Me campaign has raised over $300K in just a few days since the incident became public to send Quaden and his family to Disney Land. I suspect the Bayles family will need to consider Disney World in Orlando, FL if they desire to be a part of Wrestlemania and take Paige up on her invitation.
Well done WWE. @stephmcmahon how about some consideration of Quaden for the Warrior Award?
Keith Lee (@realkeithlee) was on the FS1 show WWE Backstage this past week. The more I watch him the more impressed I am when it comes to his humbleness and in ring skills. Lee is going to be a major talent in WWE on the main roster. Hopefully sooner rather than later. Lee did remark that Roman Reigns mentioned after their run-in at Survivor Series that he would love to take on Lee in a singles match. No doubt this would be some kind of hoss fight. Maybe WWE can bring back JR to call this match (won’t happen).
It has been reported that Vince McMahon may be in negotiations to sell the US PPV rights to WWE branded events to ESPN. I have not as yet dug into the finances of the network, but at first blush this move strikes me as a means to remove debt and the necessary ongoing working capital for the WWE subsidiary from the WWE balance sheet. I’m neutral on the move if it leads to subscription pricing for WWE events remaining at a similar price point. But if a potential partner is considering going back to event pricing ($50-$60 per PPV) this would be disastrous for WWE. I will dig into the matter further in an upcoming column next week. One final thought, I wouldn’t discount the rumor to be an effort from WWE to involve other parties such as Amazon, Netflix, etc. in a bidding war.
Professional wrestling often mirrors events that happen in real life. There has been no bigger sports story this winter than the cheating scandal involving the Houston Astros and possibly the Boston Red Sox. Cheating has always been accepted in the WWE for reasons. This matter strikes me as a natural for WWE, maybe they can enlist some talent who has lost momentum in recent months to go on a one-man crusade to rid wrestling of cheating. Might I suggest Daniel Bryan (@wwedanielbryan) who has a sterling reputation and could potentially pull this off. Seems like a good way to involve Bryan with the notorious cheater, Seth Rollins (@wwerollins) in a program. And yes, I know they are on different programs. But since when has that stopped WWE from moving forward.
- Eve Torres (@evetorresgracie) offered up some interesting comments regarding inappropriate behavior from Donald Trump back in 2009. I wrote about it earlier this week. Since Ms. Torres disclosure earlier this week, she has gone silent. I reached out to her for a comment and did not receive a reply. I have all the empathy in the world for victims of abuse and those who suffer from harassment in any form, but why go public with a comment that was sure to generate substantial publicity and then go silent? In either case, I hope her comments were taken seriously by WWE corporate. Further, I am surprised that the most high profile woman at WWE, Stephanie McMahon (@stephmcmahon), has not offered a statement on the issue. It’s a bad look for McMahon, the architect of the Women’s Revolution at WWE to sit of the sidelines while this news is percolating.
- Congrats to the Bella Twins on their upcoming induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. They have long been favorites of mine for their success in the ring and in branding themselves beyond the world of sports entertainment. Prior to the Bellas the standard cross-over for WWE superstars was action movies (Hogan, Rock, Miz, Cena & Bautista). The Bella Twins took things in a different direction with reality TV and their move into fashion and podcasting. On another note, I thought the handoff of Birdie Bella (Danielson) from Daniel Bryan to his wife Brie was a wonderful moment on SmackDown Friday night. Any parent who has ever raised kids could identify with that reality.
- We haven’t seen the Iconics on TV in a long while and I’m not sure why. There was some reporting I came across recently stating that their characters were being refreshed. Personally, I am of the mind the The Iconics (@peytonroycewwe & @billykaywwe), have the look and in-ring skills to blaze the same trail as the Bella’s if WWE books them properly. Look at what proper booking has done for the Kabuki Warriors (@wweasuka & @kairisanewwe).
- I don’t do reviews of SmackDown or Raw, we have great writers at PSE who handle that role far better than I could. But the Symphony of Destruction match last night on SmackDown was something new and kind of fun to watch. Late in the match Braun Stroman hit a flying body slam on to a grand piano. In all my years of watching WWE that was a first. I’ve read some reporting that the landing opened a cut on the back of Nakamura’s head. Lets hope Shinsuke heals up fast.
- @Cageside Seats reported on Saturday that Karai Sane got married this past week. I am huge fans of both Sane and Asuka and their work as the Kabuki Warriors. All the best to the bride and groom.
- Does anyone else think that WWE is trying to portray Shayna Baszler’s (@Qosbaszler) character as an unstoppable heal? That’s the sense I am getting from her recent biting incident with Becky Lynch. I’m not in favor of this approach with Baszler and how it impacts the other women on the roster in WWE. The idea of turning Baszler into a female Brock Lesnar or a more recent version of Undertaker as the American Bad Ass leaves me to wonder if WWE can ever move beyond nostalgia when creating new characters.
- It was reported earlier this week that Samoa Joe (@samoajoe) sustained a concussion while filming a commercial for WWE. If the reports are accurate, this would be the second concussion for Joe in the last few weeks. The last few months haven’t been kind to Joe’s health. Not only has Joe sustained 2 concussions but he had to deal with a injured hand which kept him out of action for some time. I hope Joe returns to the ring when he fully regains his health, and not a moment before.
- This coming Thursday WWE will be in Saudi Arabia for their next Supershow. Rumors persist that a significant percentage of the main roster will not be in attendance. WWE has been promoting this event for what seems like months. The card strikes me as underwhelming. I have no idea what the plan is for The Fiend vs Goldberg other than I expect The Fiend to come out on top, or at least retain the title. I have previously taken the position that WWE is boxed in with The Fiend’s character. There is no backstory to The Fiend and his gimmick will likely run it’s course in a few months. The most interesting part of this issue is how WWE intends to book The Fiend once he drops the title. The likely answer is the same way WWE booked Bray Wyatt’s original character after he dropped the WWE belt a few years back.
- I would be eternally grateful to Mauro Ranallo, the TV voice of NXT, if he could just dial down his level of excitement every now and then. I am well aware of the personal struggles that Mauro has endured in his life. He is an inspiration to many of us who have endured in the face of difficulty. But, just a little less volume on the pipes would be helpful for some of us watching at home.
- If you haven’t had a chance to watch the first 2 episodes of Ruthless Aggression, I highly recommend you find the time. I don’t spend much time watching content on the WWE Network aside from the PPV’s, but this docu-series is different. The interviews are wonderful and the footage, especially from Ohio Valley Wrestling certainly is a moment in time for the likes of John Cena, Randy Orton, Dave Bautista and Brock Lesnar.
- Item last*: For those people who complain about the length of the card at Wrestlemania, please stop. I have never been one who truly enjoys being at live sporting events. I prefer the experience of watching from home on a 50-inch HDTV. If you have an issue with the length of the card, then don’t attend. I think the people who complain about the length of Wrestlemania are the same folks who can’t get past the length of an NFL game. Most fans watching at home enjoy the experience, especially when it comes to football. After all, what does one do after an NFL game is over? They likely watch the next game that is about to be broadcast. Unless of course, if it is after midnight and we have to wait for MNF, TNF or the following Sunday.
Thank you for the read. If you can identify the iconic 1980s TV show the last bullet point (item last) is referencing I will give you a shout next Sunday in this column. Hit me up on twitter with the answer using the hashtag #itemlast. Please follow my work on Twitter @sethsimonpse, I always follow back. Feel free to engage in the comments section.