Before we kick off the WrestleTalk News this morning, I wanted to wish the best to my best of frenemy, Mr. Davis – who undergoes surgery today to heal his injured shoulder from being blown up… by getting a hair transplant. Seems legit. Mr. Davis will be out of action for a week or so, so head on over to his social media page and wish him the best with his future hair-deavours. I will also find the son of a botch that blew Mr. Davis… up.
And a huge thank you to all of you, for helping us pass the 800k subscriber mark on YouTube. We’re so thankful to all of you who watch, and it also means that, when he returns, Mr. Davis will do an episode of the WrestleTalk News dressed as Maki Itoh.
Rhea Ripley was announced to be joining the Raw roster after this year’s Royal Rumble, where she was the runner-up to eventual winner Bianca Belair. For weeks and weeks, WWE aired “coming soon” videos for the former NXT UK and NXT Women’s Champion – a sure sign that there were no creative plans in place – and it turns out there weren’t.
The only report was that she was going to debut after WrestleMania, and likely be the first challenger to whomever won the Raw Women’s Championship match at Mania. The problem is, those plans were also up in the air.
Originally WWE had planned to do Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka, after the pair won the Women’s Tag Team Championships – who will they possibly co-exist? – but that was changed to Charlotte Flair vs. Lacey Evans who would have beaten Asuka for the title at Elimination Chamber. By the power of Blonde Skull. But those plans fell through when Evans shoot fell pregnant. Plans were changed back to Flair vs. Asuka, but they also fell apart when WWE reportedly misdiagnosed Charlotte as being pregnant, which she wasn’t. So in the end, Rhea Ripley’s post-Mania debut was pulled forward and she won the title from Asuka at WrestleMania.
Interestingly, when Ripley debuted, it was reported that the Thunderdome audience were told to cheer her as a babyface, but the following week were told to boo her like a heel – which has been the case ever since. However, according to Bryan Alverez on Wrestling Observer Live, fans this week were again told to cheer Ripley as a babyface – despite the fact she was teaming with very much heel Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler, and acting like a heel the entire match.
It’s just one more layer of confusion Ripley’s main roster start, and a frustrating one as there is so much potential in Rhea Ripley on Raw, but the constant last-minute changes and indecisiveness about her character – or lack thereof – is squandering that potential and flattening her out – just like the rest of the Raw women’s division who’ve all been in variations of the same feud since October last year.
And now it’s time for this episode’s sponsor – as read to you by 2021 Royal Jamble winner Adam Blampied.
Real Reason AJ Styles & Omos Missing?
Conspicuous by their absence since WrestleMania is AJ Styles and Omos, who won the Raw Tag Team Championships from New Day on night one but haven’t been seen or heard from since. It had been reported that this was because Omos was dealing with an injury of sorts, which was keeping the team off TV. Which is quite typical of WWE, if one of the team is injured then there are just no plans available for the other guy – even if that guy is AJ freakin’ Styles.
But according to Bryan Alvarez on Wrestling Observer Live, this isn’t quite the case – noting that anyone missing from TV since WrestleMania – such as AJ and Omos – is just because nothing has been written for them. The Raw Tag Team Champions. The team will be making their first WWE appearance since winning the belts on The Bump of all places. Is Queen of the Ring on this episode? Nope, well guess I won’t be tuning into that one then.
Perhaps AJ and Omos will be back just in time to see the newest debut on the Raw roster: the direct competition from All Elite Wrestling.
AEW Vs. WWE Raw Confirmed?
In a huge money deal, Turner Sports recently acquired the rights to NHL games for a staggering $225 million per season. This was certainly interesting to wrestling fans, as NHL games traditionally air on Wednesday nights, which could force AEW Dynamite off their timeslot on TNT to make way for the far-more popular hockey.
This is particularly troubling for AEW, as they can’t air on Tuesday or Thursday on TNT as those days are reserved for basketball – which is why they were on Wednesday nights in the first place – which only leaves Monday and Friday, the days of WWE’s Raw and SmackDown.
However, according to Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio, they likely won’t move the show to Friday nights against SmackDown as it will again split their audience like they did going against NXT, only this time they’ll be fighting the much larger channel in Fox. Which only leaves Monday Night, and the potential of a new Monday Night War – the third one in 25 years. And it didn’t work out well for the competition the last time it was tried.
That also doesn’t seem likely though, as Meltzer adds AEW’s Tony KHAAAAN is “adamant” that Dynamite won’t air on Monday nights as he doesn’t want to compete against the NFL. There are only so many days in the week, Tony, and I ain’t working Sunday to review your show.
WWE Raw Ratings
You may be wondering why TK is afraid of the NFL and not Raw, but that might be because the latest episode – which was bloody awful, mind – dropped massively in viewership this week to 1.7 million viewers, a dropoff of quarter of a million from last week. While the post Mania drop off is always there, that large a dropoff is alarming. Especially as AEW’s Dynamite – now that it runs unopposed – drew just half a million less eyeballs on Wednesday night.