That’s right, Oli Davis is back in the third person on WrestleTalk after my holiday last week, where it seems it’s just been business as usual over at WWE. Whaaaaat?
Bray Wyatt actually debuted!
Brock Lesnar is the Universal Champion!
And Baron Corbin hit a woman?! Attitude Era.
But this week has a far more important meaning than your humble host’s groundbreaking return…
It’s CM Punk beat John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011 day! So happy CM Punk beat John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011 day, SWAFT Nation! We need a more succinct name fo-
Yesterday marked eight years since WWE’s Money in the Bank 2011, one of the best pay-per-views in company history, seeing the emotional peak of the storyline that saved me from giving up on wrestling altogether. Late 2010 was a dark time, with WWE deep in John Cena beats everyone mode, his most recent victims being the entire Nexus, many of whom could’ve gone on to be major stars.
But then the following year, Punk cut his infamous pipebomb promo on Raw, which led to him brilliantly winning the WWE Championship from Cena and storyline leaving the company with it.
Wait a second… it’s 8 years since Punk won that title from Cena, an annually occurring anniversary, which comes just a few days after WWE’s Extreme Rules and AEW’s Fight for the Fallen. It can only mean one thi-CM Punk return confirmed.
Which is more than we can say for his storied rival…
…Because anything Rock ‘The Dwayne’ Johnson does, John Cena will do slightly less impressively and seven years later, the trailer for John’s first leading role in a family comedy has been released!
In film history terms, this is called the Kindergarten Cop phase. Also, The Tooth Fairy stage.
Cena is the lead star in the Nickelodeon produced movie Playing With Fire, about a crew of rugged firefighters who meet their match when attempting to rescue three rambunctious kids. Which I’m guessing is not this Playing With Fire that comes up first on Google Image search, as they’re too old to be rambunctious kids. Nor this cleavage heavy film that’s second. Or this movie that’s third. Or this movie that’s fourth, that’s actually just a different poster for the second movie. There’s a lot of films called Playing With Fire.
Unless Cena’s in all of them… and I just can’t see him.
Maybe to get around the confusion, they should just give them all sequential numbers, or call at least one ‘Playing With Fire: Tokyo Drift’. Franchise titling segway!
Because the first images have been released of Cena on the set of Fast and Furious 9. You know, the franchise that Rock ‘The Dwayne’ Johnson has been a huge part of since the fifth movie, but then left to make his own spin-off team up film with Jason Statham and Roman Reigns called Hobbs and Shaw that’s out next month and will likely be the best movie of all time, and is rumoured to have caused a real-life rift between The Dwayne and other franchise headliner Vin Diesel, so Diesel got in Cena to likely replace Johnson. I’m sure everything’s totally cool between everyone there!
You can’t see him in the post celebrating Fast and Furious actor Michelle Rodriquez’s birthday. Nor can you see him in Vin Diesel’s Instagram post captioned ‘Day 16, Grateful Blessed and Inspired.’ Or another one of Ludacris hugging nothing but air encaptioned ‘look how he embraces and welcomes our new cast member John Cena… grateful for both of them.’
So with Cena replacing The Dwayne in the movie franchise that made Johnson Hollywood’s most money-making draw, could Rocky be going back the other way to WWE?
Oddly, the hint has come from WWE’s Sami Zayn of all places on Twitter…
“Bumped into @TheRock today at the @WWEPC whilst getting care for my #Rickety shoulders & got to thank him personally for the RT & support of the #SamiForSyria campaign to start a mobile clinic in Syria. Be cool like The Rock – RT or support by donating: http://SamiForSyria.com !”
Of course, go and support Zayn’s very noble charity Sami For Syria, which raises money to provide medical services for refugees from the country, by clicking the link in the video description below – a cause we here at WrestleTalk were proud to donate $1,500 to with your SuperChat help for our WWE Super Showdown livestream the other month!
But that tweet reveals two other interesting bits of news. Firstly that Sami is getting treatment for his ongoing shoulder issues – which he first injured on his main roster debut match against John Cena in 2015.
And secondly, that The Dwayne was at WWE’s Performance Center this week.
There are a few possible explanations for this. The Rock’s daughter Simone Johnson occasionally trains there, so he could’ve been visiting her. Or he could’ve just found himself in town while promoting his Fast & Furious spin-off movie Hobbs and Shaw that’s out next month, so he popped in to say ‘hi’. I mean, it couldn’t possibly be anything more. It’s not like WWE have a huge ‘Raw Reunion’ show planned for next Monday bringing back the company’s biggest legends of the past…
The Dwayne to AEW confirm-I mean, The Dwayne to WWE confirmed!
The Raw Reunion special will take place in Florida – The Rock’s home state – next week, which has already announced a load of major stars like Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, DX, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, Kurt Angle, Ric Flair, Mick Foley, Sid Vicious, The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase and more. If The Dwayne was planned to appear on the show, you’d expect WWE to announce it along with those names to pop a bigger rating. Or they might think they’ve got enough star power already – especially with Steve Austin – so they could keep Rocky as a surprise.
Johnson hasn’t appeared on WWE TV since WrestleMania 32 in 2016, where he set a sign of his own name on fire with a flamethrower, and then won a WrestleMania match against Erick Rowan. It was a weird 15 minutes.
Dave Meltzer reported on Wrestling Observer Radio earlier this week, though, that The Dwayne would not be appearing on the Reunion show – but that was before Sami’s tweet revealing Johnson had been at the Performance Center.
Rocky featuring on the special would potentially be a great idea for both sides. WWE would get the biggest movie star in the world on Raw, and The Dwayne could promote Hobbs and Shaw which is due to be released the following week, which also stars his cousin, current WWE main eventer Roman Reigns.
Most interestingly, perhaps, is how the Performance Center might tie into all this if that’s the case – with Rocky potentially practising taking a few bumps if he’s to be involved in an angle. All speculation, but a very real possibility given WWE’s desperation for ratings, and Johnson not having long left if he ever wanted one last in-ring match. And he’s only got one movie in pre-production at the moment with an actual release date – which is a significantly lighter schedule than the last few years, where he’s been starring in every movie ever made.
So it’s either WWE in-ring return, running for President of the United States or hopefully both. WrestleMania 38 headlined by The Rock vs an increasingly fractured and confusing political world… wrrestling!
Apparently, though, the Raw reunion wasn’t even WWE’s idea. It was a concept pushed by the people even Vince McMahon answers to…
Dave Meltzer has revealed on Wrestling Observer Radio that the Raw reunion concept was actually pushed by the TV station WWE airs on, the USA Network. It’s yet another example of the Network pushing creative changes on WWE TV, where they originally wanted to end the brand split following WrestleMania 35 to give both Raw and SmackDown more star power and hopefully improve their ratings. Vince McMahon resisted and instead compromised with the Wild Card rule – allowing just four superstars from each brand to appear on their opposite show – to then pretty much just drop the brand split several weeks later anyway.
You’re on SmackDown Roman, you’re supposed to be on SmackDown.
The original plan for a WWE reunion show, where the big names of Austin, DX, etc were going to return for a one-off TV special was supposed to be for SmackDown Live, which will be celebrating 20 years since its first weekly episode aired all the way back on August 26th 1999 on UPN.
There’s no word yet on whether the Raw Reunion show being on Monday means the SmackDown version will be scrapped, or whether WWE might reuse the concept for the first episode scheduled to air on Fox, on Friday 4th October. Either way, a Rock appearance on the show named after one of his catchphrases would be a high probability.
The reunion special is just the latest idea to be literally chucked at the Raw wall this year – following the Wild Card rule and Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff being announced as executive directors for Raw and SmackDown respectively.
And, somehow, it’s actually beginning to show some results, with Raw increasing 100,000 viewers this week to 2.45 million for its post-Extreme Rules show, and Tuesday’s SmackDown doing even better, drawing 2.12 million viewers – up 15% from last week’s disaster rating, and making it the most watched SmackDown since the SuperStar ShakeUp special on April 16th.
But that could all be about to change, because after weeks of reports, it looks like one man will finally be saying: “I’m baaaack.”
This week’s post-Extreme Rules episode of SmackDown started a series of new storylines based around those who’ve been passed over by the recent reign of The OmniShane. Seemingly sparked by Kevin Owens’ worked-shoot promo, Liv Morgan got a match with Charlotte and teased a gimmick change, Ali potentially set himself up to challenge Shinsuke Nakamura for the Intercontinental title, and Buddy Murphy actually appeared on TV.
Sure, it was as part of the OmniShane – but at least he was on TV. My glass is half full, Steve Here.
While not the most exciting episode to watch, it built foundations for SummerSlam. And all that… could be undone in just a few weeks time.
Because despite reports that Eric Bischoff would be taking control of SmackDown’s direction post-Extreme Rules, it seems he only actually started in the office the day after – the 17th July.
Bischoff himself has been posting pictures of his family moving from Wyoming to Stamford to be closer to his new job at WWE headquarters – which PWInsider and Sports Illustrated’s Justin Barrasso have confirmed is now underway:
“Today is Eric Bischoff’s first day in office for his new role as Executive Director”
And then Bischoff himself told Afterbuzz TV on Tuesday:
“I’m actually watching SmackDown as we speak. I’m boning up, doing my research, getting familiar. But just got back from the dinner and I’m going into the office tomorrow – kind of getting oriented to starting the process and kicking around Monday and Tuesday next week.”
So while Bischoff has now moved to Stamford and is working in the WWE office, he’s not going to get properly underway until next week. The perfect time to cut off all those storylines that started on Tuesday and begin a big motorbike faction invasion storyline.
Watch Luke Owen’s review of Spider-Man: Far From Home by clicking the ScreenStalker video on the right! And make sure to download Raid: Shadow Legends using our links below to get 50,000 silver and a free epic champion – all for free! I’ve been Oli Davis, and that was wrestling.