Thank you Oli for that wonderful sponsor read – even though, you’re on holiday, how does that even work?… but it’s now time, FOR MECHA NEWS. I am Luke Owen. We’ve got a packed show of news today – including all Summerslam plans being subject to change, the latest on LAX and Johnny Mundo leaving Impact Wrestling, and rumours of Shane McMahon being phased off WWE TV. Click the timestamps to jump to any of those news stories. But first!
While a lot of fans are saying we’re in a creative down period for the company, with some even comparing it to the dark days of 1995 and ‘96, or even comparing it to the even darker days of 2000 WCW, there are some shining lights. AJ Styles turning heel and reforming The Club, Kevin Owens’ promo on Smackdown, Kofi Kingston being booked strong, and anything involving Bray Wyatt’s Firefly Funhouse. However, one consistent problem in WWE’s writing team is coming up with tag team names. From The Viking Experience to Kabuki Warriors to Besties Best For Business, it seems as though the company just can’t come up with decent names for tandems anymore.
And never has that been more true than the new tag team name for Roman Reigns and The Undertaker. Yes, despite only tagging together for one night this Sunday at Extreme Rules when they take on Drew McIntyre and The Best in the WOOOOOOOORLD, Shane McMahon, WWE.com unveiled a t-shirt for Reigns and Taker – revealing their team name of Graveyard Dogs. Sigh. Do you know what, shall we put this to a vote? Vote in the poll above my head to let me know which team name you think is the worst: Vikng Experience, Kabuki Warriors, Besties Best for the Business, and Graveyard Dogs. I’ll reveal the result in our Extreme Rules review on Monday.
Undertaker and Roman Reigns taking on Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre is just one of the matches on Sunday at Extreme Rules, which will also see Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch defending their Universal Championship and Raw Women’s Championship against Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans, Kofi Kingston defending his WWE Championship against Samoa Joe, AJ Styles and Ricochet clashing for the United States Championship, The Planeteers defending their Smackdown Tag Team Championships against Heavy Machinery and New Day, The Usos vs. Revival for the Raw Tag Team Championships and Aleister Black and Cesaro on PPV yes please mate.
One of the other matches on the card sees Bayley defend her Smackdown Women’s Championship against Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross in a two-on-one handicap match, which was set up on Monday’s Raw where Cross beat Bayley in a Beat the Clock challenge.
It’s now being reported by Dave Meltzer in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, that this was a last-minute switch, and the change was made because Alexa Bliss has been dealing with a sinus infection all week. Bliss was at both Raw and Smackdown, but was unable to go out in front of the crowd due to her illness, and so the decision was made to change the match to a 2-on-1 handicap match so Cross can do all the heavy lifting to protect Bliss this coming Sunday.
Something else that changed on last Monday’s Raw was the closing angle, where Cedric Alexander disguised himself as janitor Gary Garbutt to team with Roman Reigns to take on Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre. Cedric’s plan went off without a hitch – despite being Claymore’d by Drew and pinned by Shane – and he celebrated with Roman after the match – despite being Claymore’d by Drew and pinned by Shane. That does not make sense.
PWInsider are now reporting that this was also a last-minute change, with the original plan set to simply have an extra playing the role of Gary Garbutt in the tag match. Mike Johnson of PWInsider doesn’t go into more detail on what this extra would have done during the match, but reports that there was a pitch during the day to put Alexander in the Garbutt position instead. According to Johnson, “We are told there will be a follow-up to Alexander’s involvement on Raw Monday.”
But Extreme Rules is not the only wrestling that is happening this weekend.
It’s a busy weekend of wrestling, with WWE holding Extreme Rules this Sunday, the B Block of New Japan’s G1 kicking off, Evolve airing on the WWE Network for the first-time ever with their 10th anniversary show, and AEW hosting their third PPV Fight for the Fallen – which has a stacked card including The Rhodes Brothers taking on The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega taking on CIMA, Lucha Brothers vs. SoCal Uncensored, Allie taking on Brandi Rhodes, Adam Page vs. Kip Sabian, and MJF, Shawn Spears and Sammy Guevara teaming up against the death match trio of Jimmy Jacobs, Joey Janela and Darby Allin.
And because AEW clearly want to mess with our predictions videos and WrestleLeague Season Two – head on over to Patreon.com/wrestletalk for more info on how to join that – the company has announced a slew of new matches – including Sonny Kiss taking on The Librarian Peter Avalon, as well as matches for Dr. Britt Baker and the AEW debut of Bea Priestly, and a triple threat tag team match between Dark Order, Jack Evans & Angelico, and Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus – with the winners advancing to All Out in August for the opportunity for a first-round bye in the tournament to crown the first AEW World Tag Team Championships.
One team that could be part of that tag tournament is former Impact Tag Champs, LAX. The team of Santana and Ortiz lost their titles to The North last Friday ahead of Slammiversary, where they failed to recapture the belts in a three-way match that also involved The Rascalz. It was reported shortly after the show by Figure Four Weekly that Slammiversary would likely be the final night for LAX in Impact Wrestling, with their contracts expiring in August and they are unlikely to re-sign.
PWInsider added that Impact Wrestling were looking to offer a big money contract to get the team to stay, but Dave Meltzer has reported in the latest Observer that both WWE and AEW are interested in signing the duo – with WWE believing that they’ll be joining NXT in September. However he adds, “most close to the situation expect the decision will be AEW.”
Meltzer writes the AEW choice is the more likely as tag teams will be a big focus for the new promotion, and they can continue their partnership with Konnan due to All Elite Wrestling’s partnership with AAA. Not only that, but AEW will offer more money than they would make in NXT.
Slammiversary was also the reported final night of former World Champion Johnny Impact. PWInsider reported that his contract actually ended with Impact Wrestling a few weeks before Slammiversary, but he agreed to work the show to finish up his feud with Rich Swann over the X-Division Championship.
But while Johnny Impact is now a free agent and could negotiate with any company he wants, Meltzer is reporting that the feeling is that Mr. Impact looks at wrestling as a side gig to pay his bills and he wants to focus on his acting career. Meltzer notes that if Mundo went to WWE, he’d have less time to make films and they would have to be approved by the company, and that AEW would offer him more freedom to do outside projects. However, “the last word was that he was leaning neither in the direction of WWE or AEW.”
Someone who did choose to head to All Elite Wrestling is the former Dean Ambrose, Jon Moxley. Mox debuted for AEW at Double or Nothing in May, attacking both Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho, then defeating Joey Janela in a lights out unsanctioned match at Fyter Fest last month. Moxley won’t be at Fight for the Fallen due to him competing in New Japan’s G1, but he has now been announced for Starrcast III, the fan convention that will take place prior to AEW’s All Out in August. Not only that, but Moxley will have a sit down interview with Jim Ross where they promise, “nothing will be off limits”.
Moxley’s former employer WWE will soon be gearing up for their second biggest show of the year, Summerslam, but if reports are to be believed, plans for that show are now out the window.
With Extreme Rules coming this Sunday, many fans will be looking to the results to see what we can expect fo Summerslam – with many fans expecting matches between Undertaker and Drew McIntyre, Shane McMahon vs. Roman Reigns or Kevin Owens, and even some speculating that Shane could go for Kofi Kingston’s WWE Championship.
WWE themselves have advertised locally in the Tornoto area that Drew McIntyre vs. The Undertaker will be one of the show’s big marquee matches, but Dave Meltzer is reporting “that is not the actual plan right now”. Meltzer fully expects Undertaker to be on the show, and theorizes that it will either be against McIntyre, Shane McMahon or someone new like Bray Wyatt.
Taker vs. Drew not being the current plan has been somewhat backed up by the very reliable WrestleVotes on Twitter, who posted that “anything WWE had planned for SummerSlam in advance was all subject to change once [Eric] Bischoff & [Paul] Heyman fully start their roles this upcoming week.”
Heyman and Bischoff will officially start their roles as executive directors for Raw and Smackdown respectivly following Extreme Rules, with WrestleVotes saying they’re going to be given a legitimate fresh start with no forced agendas. Which sort of means that the results of Extreme Rules are effectivly pointless as they might not mean much by Monday.
It’s been reported by various outlets that Heyman has been more involved in the creative process since the announcement, being present for Raw meetings with one report saying he sat in Gorilla Position with Vince McMahon taking notes. Heyman has been credited for the Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley storyline, Street Profits getting a call up from NXT, and the Mike and Maria Kannellis pregnancy angle.
However that’s not been the case for Eric Bischoff, who hasn’t been at either Smackdown Live taping since the announcement. One wrestler backstage told the very reliable Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful that “things cannot get any worse”, with Dave Meltzer adding in a Wrestling Observer Newsletter that the internal feeling is that Bischoff’s knowledge of the current product is worse than feared – with Bischoff himself admitting recently in an interview that he has a lot to learn in this new role.
And according to the latest Observer Newsletter, Bischoff has some heat with WWE office staffers for not showing up to the Smackdown tapings. Meltzer expanded on Wrestling Observer Radio saying, “There’s definitely negativity towards Eric because I’ve seen it, I’ve heard it. I don’t think so much among the wrestlers. I think it’s more among office people… they’re the ones that can see through Eric.” He adds in the Newsletter that Bischoff’s name hasn’t even been mentioned in creative meetings and that, “It’s been noted to us that every week he’s not there puts him another week behind and the battles necessary to be the catalyst of change and improvement are going to take a long time.”
One of Bischoff’s big characters to play with is The Best in the World, Shane McMahon – who I think technically is still a Smackdown guy but that’s been up in the air since the Wild Card. At present, Shane is currently involved in storylines with The Revival, The Miz, Drew McIntyre, Elias, The Undertaker, Roman Reigns, and following Smackdown, Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler.
His latest feud with Owens started on this week’s Smackdown – with Owens cutting a worked shoot promo – pew pew – on the boss’ son where he buried the McMahon’s December promo where they said things would change. Owens said in his promo that the only thing that’s changed is more Shane – noting that guys and girls like Buddy Murphy and Asuka can’t get TV time because Shane is on both shows feuding with everyone.
However according to WrestlingNews.co – this new feud with Owens could end up being Shane’s last for some time, with the website reporting that the storyline is being designed to phase Shane O Mac off TV. Their report claims that Vince McMahon is listening to the critisisms of WWE more than ever, and has been more willing to accept advise from other officials within the company – with one bit of advice being less Shane might be a good idea.
Now it should be noted that WrestlingNews.co don’t have a perfect track record when it comes to backstage reports, so this one should be taken with a pinch of salt. So for all we know, we could end up with more Shane once Heyman and Bischoff take over.
Thank you for watching, and a special thank you to our Pledge Hammers on Patreon, some of which you can see scrolling their way into my stomach. Do you want to hear my review of Spider-Man: Far From Home while playing Spider-Man for the Sega Genesis? Or Mega Drive to give its proper name. Then head on over to ScreenStalker right now by clicking the video on screen! Go on, do it! I’ve been Luke Owen, and that was Mecha News.