** Paul “Triple H” Levesque hosted the pre-TakeOver: Portland media call for the event on February 16th and here are a few highlights from the call:
– Triple H is asked about AEW beating NXT in the ratings and key demos. Levesque brought up the long game and stated that he is happy with the product NXT is presenting right now.
– In regard to referring to the NXT Women’s Championship as just the NXT Championship, Levesque stated that the internet took over. It was never an official order and it was just to stop focusing on the word “women”.
– He’s asked about the possibility of the NXT Title being defended at WrestleMania 36 and says that the TakeOver card that weekend is going to be epic and spoke about how difficult it is to fit everything onto a WrestleMania card.
– Levesque said he does not envy Simone Johnson’s situation in regard to the amount of eyes and pressure on her.
– He answered a question about not having a Halftime Heat special this year during Super Bowl LIV and it had to do with FOX being a partner of WWE and inadvertently taking viewers away from their showing of the Super Bowl.
– He isn’t sure if Shayna Baszler is on RAW or NXT full-time but hopes that what Shayna and Becky Lynch do is massive.
– He is asked about the signings of Timothy Thatcher and Killer Kross. Levesque is excited about it and added that big surprises aren’t the end all be all.
– He stated that an announcement is coming soon about NXT TV as Full Sail University has a commitment for a week
– Levesque never heard anything from Vince McMahon about the alleged Matt Riddle/Brock Lesnar confrontation. He says he has had read stuff and isn’t sure if it’s a work or not.
Full audio from the media call can be heard on F4WOnline.
** Simone Johnson sat down with Cathy Kelley for an interview to promote the official announcement that she is a part of the NXT brand and training at the Performance Center as she has been doing for quite some time. Simone was asked why did she think it was finally the right time to make the leap and here was her reasoning:
“I think that the opportunity just presented itself to me now, and it’s something that I know that I’ve always wanted and thankfully my parents have always been really supportive of it.”
Simone’s father, Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson showed a great deal of support for Simone in her endeavor into the world of professional wrestling and Simone further backed those sentiments from her father.
“He was so supportive. My whole family has always been so supportive. I’m really thankful for that and he’s been with me every step of the way.”
Simone admitted that she does feel the pressure but the only thing she can do is take that pressure and use it to motivate herself.
“I do feel pressure but I know that at the end of the day, it’s something that is always going to be there so, I know it’s up to me to take that pressure and use it to just motivate myself.”
** All Elite Wrestling Co-Executive Vice President Cody Rhodes appeared on Wrestling Observer Radio and during the conversation, Rhodes opened up about the forthcoming third hour of AEW programming and shared some of the ideas that have been tossed around concerning that third hour.
“I think, just testing the waters at WarnerMedia, I think they’re gonna want to maybe diversify a little bit in terms of — the format could even be different, but I’ll say that, not for lack of preparation. We’re prepared, whenever we’re ready to pull the trigger on the third hour and we know as part of the new deal, the third hour is gonna become real, but we haven’t had a long-form discussion about it with WarnerMedia. We’ve had a discussion with — Tony [Khan’s] ready. Tony’s got years and years of ideas. We’re ready as an infrastructure because we used the production right now. Last week, we did two matches prior and two matches after the crowd remained — super hot and then we also added some profile pieces into it so, we’re ready whenever to meet the challenge but I wouldn’t be surprised if we kind of experiment with what the third hour is. I don’t think we want the third hour to be a wrap around, a catch up. I think we want something particular and actually, I hope I’m not speaking out of turn here, because it’s more Tony’s job to tell you this but Tony had some great ideas at one point about a show for the younger guys and girls. Kind of the up and coming guys and girls, and I thought it was a dynamite idea. No pun intended. So I could see us going that route, but again, we’re gonna wait until they come to us with some ideas — where it’s gonna be for one and I think the initial talk was like, ‘Oh, it’ll be like Dark but on another channel.’ I don’t think it’ll be like Dark. I think it’ll be its own animal and we would want that, you know? We’d want to test ourselves and this is a test for us so, I think it’ll be something different and maybe, I don’t mean that as a hint. I think maybe we’ll go the route of the young, less-seen because we have a lot. It’s hard. Our roster is pretty full and two hours a week…”
While talking about storylines, Rhodes said that he specifically likes to have things planned out six months in advance. There are things that come up that alter certain people’s timing but with him, Chris Jericho and those alike, things are mapped out months in advance.
“I’d say not a full year but maybe six months. Not everybody likes to talk about six months from now. It’s not the conversation that everyone wants to talk about now and this week, but I think one of the keys to what we do is gonna be having an advanced plan and to be honest, some of the stuff we do, have kind of a thought process [of] one year — ‘What does this look like?’ For example, Double Or Nothing. Not this year but what will Double Or Nothing look like next year. I think we’ve gotta stay to that and we haven’t had any signs that we won’t be able to accomplish that. With a weekly show, we’ve kept it at six months at minimum for certain stuff. There’s certain guys that flow a little bit more improvisationally, and move like maybe every — they’ve got four weeks mapped out. Guys like Jericho and myself I guess, who I got it mapped out pretty far in advance. That’s a part of what I was telling you. Again, real inside baseball here but, this is the Observer but, I like to have everything well mapped out for me. It just gives me something to work for, and something to flow off of and it’s wrestling. Stuff can change, at any minute, at any second. I’m used to that. I’m used to change. It’s nice to have that structure. That’s a big thing. AEW is the renegade wild company but, it’s amazing how much real structure exists here and I love the fact that that’s the way it is.”
Cody also spoke very highly of Darby Allin. He talked about Darby’s professionalism and how he conducts himself at AEW events and the reaction from the youth towards Darby.
“Its moved quicker than perhaps we expected with somebody like Darby. I’m always careful talking about Darby because I don’t wanna jinx it, but man, how ahead of the curb is Darby and he has tapped into something with a youth that’s not — I’m 34. I still consider myself young at heart, but I’m not actually young. Darby is younger and he appeals to a different demo and yeah, to see the half-face paint reminds me a lot of early Sting as well and there’s kind of shades of Jeff Hardy there with Darby but the thing that impresses me the most is his behavior. That’s something that is really encouraging to see as a young man. He’s unbelievably professional and he’s ahead of the curb with talking to all the floor cam guys. Some of the talent don’t even know the floor cam guys exist. They’re so nervous when they’re out there. Darby talks to all the camera guys about what he’s trying to accomplish. He is consistently talking and coming up with things for himself, and he also is someone that he sees that there are wrestlers out there who do very little and get a lot, and that little chip on his shoulder and that kind of frustration, that’s a good thing. I’m careful talking too much about him but, I think we’re all looking forward to seeing the growth of Darby Allin. He’s always in the ring too at Norcross. It’s a school that QT Marshall has and Darby’s always in the ring. I went there the other day just to work out. There’s a gym facility as well. He’s just having matches with himself, and I feel like every guy you’ve ever heard about who’s having a match with himself ended up being a massive deal so, I’m proud of Darby so far. There’s a lot of room to grow and areas to improve and he wants to improve in all those areas so, he’s special and it’s so cool to see the little kids liking somebody who’s got kind of a fearless-type character and true personality because it’s a good quality for kids to get with.”
** Bobby Fish did an interview with Times Union and revealed that in 2012, he was considering giving up on wrestling and taking a job at Target but he was soon offered a deal by Ring of Honor which kept him in the sport.
“I was ready to take the Target job.” Fish continued by speaking about how Ring of Honor kept him in the business, “It was an unheard-of sum to me. It kept me in wrestling. Everything has happened late for me in my career. I never would have believed someone if they said I’d have the success I’m having now at 43.”
** NXT Champion Adam Cole is taking on KUSHIDA in a non-title match on NXT.
** According to Showbuzz Daily, Tuesday’s episode of WWE Backstage which featured Charlotte Flair and the return of CM Punk, drew in 169,000 overnight viewers which is the highest number the show has pulled since November.
** Roman Reigns spoke with the media at the WrestleMania 37 presser at SoFi Stadium. ESPN’s Marc Raimondi asked him about possibly having a match with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson at WrestleMania 37 and Roman stated that if there were ever a venue that would hold that bout and the attention that The Rock would bring, it would be SoFi Stadium. NBC San Diego reporter Fernando Ramirez asked Roman would he rather face Goldberg or “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 36 and Roman said he’d rather face Wyatt because he wants to help the guys who are gonna be in the locker room with him, with all due respect to Goldberg. Goldberg and Wyatt are clashing for the Universal Championship at WWE Super ShowDown on February 27th.
“I mean, I just want my title to be honest. Nobody took that title from me. I had to relinquish it due to circumstances so I just prefer my title. From a completely honest standpoint, I would much rather face The Fiend. He’s busted his ass all year long for it. No offense to Goldberg. I think he’s a great performer, he’s a great superstar, but I’m into the future right now and helping out the guys who are gonna be in the locker room with me, and there’s no doubt The Fiend has put a lot of work into what he’s done, but as we all have so like I said man, it’s my time now. We’ve had fun with that Fun House but it’s time to bring it home.”
** PWG released the full card for their ‘KOBE’ show on March 29th:
– The VeloCities (Jude London & Paris De Silva) vs. Aramis & Rey Horus
– Orange Cassidy vs. Mick Moretti
– Jeff Cobb vs. David Starr
– Four Way Match: JD Drake vs. Brody King vs. Black Taurus vs. Caveman Ugg
– Dragon Lee vs. Flamita
– Blake Christian, Tony Deppen & Alex Zayne vs. The Rascalz (Trey Miguel, Zachary Wentz & Dezmond Xavier)
– PWG World Championship: Bandido (c) vs. Jonathan Gresham
Tickets for the show go on-sale on February 20th.
** On February 5th, WWE filed to trademark the names “Texas Rattlesnake” and “Christian”.
** Charly Caruso posted on her Instagram story that she’s going to be working on an official XFL show.
** WWE posted a video of their talents attempting the ‘Broom Challenge’ that has gone viral on social media.
** Teddy Hart was arrested in Richmond, Virginia on February 11th and is currently at the Richmond City Sheriff’s Department. Hart, real name Edward Ellsworth Annis was charged with possession of a schedule III narcotic and possession with the intent to sell or distribute. Teddy Hart was in attendance at ROH’s Free Enterprise show in Baltimore, Maryland on February 9th.
** The Hill ran a story about Aja Perera, who joined WWE’s NXT brand as the first-ever African-American female referee.
** Joey Ryan’s d*ck flip spot and PJ Hawx’s mall-balcony spot was featured on ESPN’s ‘Highly Questionable’ show on February 11th.
** SPORTbible released their interview with Jeff Jarrett and Jarrett shared his thoughts about why Jim Cornette wouldn’t return to WWE:
“Look, I met Jim when I was 12 and maybe he was… I don’t know how many years older he was. His mother and my grandmother were best friends, so we go back literally since we were kids, and Jim is a student of the game, incredible passion for the industry. But there’s one word that will probably prevent Jim from doing it and it’s real simple: there’s no ego involved, there’s no politics involved. It is strictly a personality-driven [choice]. Jim doesn’t like travel, on the level that WWE does now. In this year alone, we’re going to Saudi Arabia twice, South America, Japan, Australia, obviously all through Europe, all over to Canada. Just the travel schedule is something that it would shock me… I just don’t think Jim will ever be up for it. But his love for this business will never change.”
Jarrett was also asked about his appearance on Table For 3 on the WWE Network with Sting and AJ Styles. Jarrett stated that he never thought he’d be talking about TNA on WWE programming and listed off several names who he’d like to do a Table For 3 episode with.
“Never ever did I. Not just TNA… it’s evolved, but hats off to the decision makers. The business is much more transparent — more than it’s ever been. With social media, it changed. The internet changed the world. Social media changed the world. Certainly, sports-entertainment followed as part of that change. But no, the Table For 3 was absolutely a blast. I’d love to do one with Samoa Joe, I’d love to do one with Bobby Roode and a lot of memories for a lot of guys: Jeff Hardy, Eric Young — there’s a list of the folks. Those were a lot of great years. Christian, I’ve seen him as of late and he’s back doing quite a bit of work [with WWE] and he spent several years there. D-Von spent a lot of years in TNA, so when you just look at all of the folks that came through there, it is fun to reminisce and I’m happy to see them [and] do stuff like the Table For 3 with me, Sting and AJ.”
** JOE pushed out their interview with Jeff Jarrett.
** It is noted in F4WOnline’s Daily Update that AEW’s All Out 2 is set to take place on September 5th.
** Tokyo Joshi Pro Results (2/11/20) Tokyo, Japan
– Hyper Misao & Nodoka Tenma def. Mahiro Kiryu & Yuna Manase
– Haruna Neko & Yuki Aino def. Shoko Nakajima & Yuki Kamifuku
– Miyu Yamashita def. Mina Shirakawa
– Maki Ito, Pom Harajuku & Raku def. Miu Watanabe, Rika Tatsumi & Suzume
– Hikari Noa & Natsumi Maki def. Mirai Maiumi & Mizuki
– Princess Of Princess Championship: Yuka Sakazaki (c) def. Lana Austin
** New Orleans outlet 4WWL did an interview with Luke and PJ Hawx about their viral spot from Wildkat Wrestling’s show over the weekend.
** Buddy Murphy chatted with Metro and spoke about why he considers 205 Live his home instead of NXT and 205 Live having one of the best in-ring products.
“It’s only made me a better performer, but 205 was some of the best in-ring product in the world. It was just unfortunate that it wasn’t showcased to the best of its ability, I believe. But it did have the best in-ring product. 205 was the door opening for me. People ask me about NXT, and I always correct them and say, ‘I’m not NXT, I’m 205 Live.’ It is my home, it was my birth. NXT, I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again — they missed this ship, so to speak. You can tell by the quality that I produced.”
** Lio Rush and Angel Garza are set to meet on the 2/12/20 episode of NXT and the winner will be the #1 contender to Jordan Devlin’s NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
** Rickey Shane Page appeared on the latest edition of the Steve Austin Show podcast and Rickey talked about some of his limitations when it comes to death matches:
“I don’t like fire. The flaming table stuff. It’s an element, and you can’t control it, so I’ve done it. I’m just weary of it. I don’t like it. Fire is a big one for me. I don’t know why, but a thing that got popular in death match wrestling is toothpicks. They just stick toothpicks in stuff. Like in boards, pieces of foam and get with ‘em and people got toothpicks stuck in them. That? I’m like, ‘No toothpicks. Not getting hit with a toothpick. Please don’t. I don’t want a giant splinter in me.’ You know what I mean? So that’s probably where I draw the line.”
** Denise Salcedo of Instinct Culture conducted an interview with WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon at SoFi Stadium for the WrestleMania 37 press conference. Stephanie told Denise about why WWE decided on Inglewood, California for their next WrestleMania and talked about some of the distinct features of the stadium.
“L.A. is the entertainment capital of the world, it is the city of champions so I think that the biggest event spectacular, WrestleMania, naturally belongs in the biggest stadium in the world, SoFi Stadium. I have not seen the renderings for SoFi, but I’ve heard a lot about it. I’ve heard about the translucent roof which I believe is gonna be called the fifth elevation and my mind is spinning with all of the different things that can potentially happen with a roof like that, from projection both from the event itself onto the roof from the fans in attendance but also for everybody flying overhead, you know that branding that can be happening. It’s just remarkable and then all of the screens that they have, double-sided screens, to make sure that no one in the audience misses anything that’s happening down on the floor and I am sure that just scratches the surface.”
** Coming out of the 2/11/20 episode of IMPACT Wrestling on AXS TV, Jordynne Grace defeated Taya Valkyrie to become the new IMPACT Knockouts Champion. On next week’s program, Michael Elgin and Eddie Edwards will continue their series of matches, Madison Rayne is hosting a ‘Golden Opportunity Challenge’, Josh Alexander is taking on TJP, and Tessa Blanchard will team up with Trey Miguel and Tommy Dreamer to face Reno Scum (Adam Thornstowe & Luster The Legend) and IMPACT X Division Champion Ace Austin.
** Here’s episode 19 of AEW Dark on the All Elite Wrestling YouTube channel which features AEW Women’s World Champion Riho taking on Shoko Nakajima in a non-title match. Jimmy Havoc went one-on-one with Sonny Kiss, Hikaru Shida faced Cassandra Golden and the main event of the show saw The Dark Order (Stu Grayson & Evil Uno) vs. Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy & Marko Stunt).
** Bianca Belair did an interview with Knox News and talked about NXT being the perfect fit for her because of her athleticism and further discussed her spotlighted participation in the 2020 women’s Royal Rumble match.
** Nick “Eugene” Dinsmore is set to appear at Canadian Wrestling Elite’s string of shows in several weeks to replace D’Lo Brown who is no longer able to appear at the events.
** Joe Vithayathil, who is a reporter based in Portland, Oregon has a series of interviews up with Bianca Belair and NXT Champion Adam Cole to promote NXT TakeOver: Portland.
** While on The WrestlingINC Daily podcast, the new IMPACT Knockouts Champion Jordynne Grace shared her thoughts about her title win:
“It feels like it’s long overdue to be honest. It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve had a lot of really good matches with all of the women there. There’s been so many times when I’ve thought I was gonna win it but ended up not winning it. I was a little bit surprised to actually win it in Mexico. You know what’s so funny is that when I won it at the show, Jessicka Havok came up to me and was, ‘Oh, this is your first time winning it? I didn’t even realize that you hadn’t won it before.'”
** Below is the video from Charlotte Flair’s appearance on The Herd With Colin Cowherd:
** ROH World Tag Team Champion Jonathan Gresham released a promo video about the ROH Pure Title.
** Flash Morgan Webster did an interview with CoventryLive and talked about The Undertaker being backstage for the January 15th episode of NXT:
“Working for the WWE is a completely different animal. You finish your match and you’ve got the likes of Triple H and Shawn Michaels giving you advice, you can pick the brains of these legends. Mark Andrews and I were out in Florida recently for the Dusty Classic tag team tournament, and even though though we lost to the BroserWeights, The Undertaker was backstage, and apparently he loved the match. After Florida, we were in Leeds last time, and we had a couple of American stars like Kassius Ohno and Brian Kendrick here. You just never know who’s going to show up. If I could wrestle anyone, ideally I’d say Daniel Bryan. He did wrestle in the Skydome once. I saw him there 12 years ago.”
** Chris Dickinson is making his MLW debut at the organization’s ‘Intimidation Games’ event on April 18th at Cicero Stadium.
** Paul London was featured in T I G E R M A N’s Elvis Presley proof of concept.
** On today’s episode of WWE’s The Bump, Davey Boy Smith Jr. appeared on the show. Smith Jr. was recently announced for All Japan Pro Wrestling’s ‘Champion Carnival’ tournament. Natalya, TJ Wilson, Johnny Gargano, Candice LeRae and Cesaro were also on the show. On next week’s program, Roman Reigns and Sheamus join the show. Candice LeRae announced that she’ll be facing Dakota Kai on NXT and Johnny Gargano requested to take on Cameron Grimes.
** Robert Stone tweeted out that he and Chelsea Green will have a segment on the 2/12 episode of NXT on the USA Network.
** Here’s part one of Tegan Nox’s four-part mini-documentary about her return to in-ring competition:
** LMTOnline profiled Rok-C who recently captured the Reality Of Wrestling Diamonds Championship.
** On the most recent edition of Eric Bischoff’s 83 Weeks podcast, he talked about the creative control that Paul Heyman really has in WWE and explained that no one truly has creative control and people on the outside have a misconception that Heyman and/or Bruce Prichard are running things.
“There’s one guy who has creative control. It’s not Paul Heyman. I hate to break your bubble, and I love Paul by the way. Conrad, you and I talked about Paul a little bit when I visited you last week and I shared with you how highly I regard Paul’s creative abilities and things like that so this is not meant to be any kind of half-assed attempt to take a shot or anything like that, but Paul Heyman doesn’t have creative control, and anybody that thinks he does is kidding themselves. I know Paul doesn’t, and neither does anybody else. One guy has creative control, and we all know who that is. So when I said, while I was there, I didn’t have creative control, I was being honest. I didn’t, because one man did. Paul Heyman doesn’t, Eric Bischoff didn’t. Nobody who follows in either my footsteps including Bruce Prichard — you know how much I love Bruce… or Paul Heyman, have creative control.”
** SPORTBIBLE was a part of a conference call with Danny Burch. During the call, Danny shared his thoughts about Timothy Thatcher signing with WWE and Burch said he can’t wait to mix it up with the former wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion:
“He’s going to bring a very unique style and being selfish, I cannot wait to tear it up with him. He’s fantastic on the mat and has a very intimidating in-ring presence and I think there’ll be fireworks for sure.”
While talking about being released from WWE in 2014 and returning just one year later, Burch said that time away gave him the chance to reevaluate his situation but he never questioned being released from the company.
“It gave me a chance to look within myself to see if this is really what I wanted to do. I’d never questioned it before but getting released the first time, I did question whether this is for me or not or if I’m good enough for this. Here we are five years later and I’ve had so much more success. I had the chance to step away and grasp what I had been taught before and to get as much exposure as I could. So yeah, I do think it ended up being a positive.”
** Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful interviewed IMPACT World Tag Team Champion Ethan Page:
** Here’s the latest Vlog from Ethan Page’s YouTube channel:
** Dan Maff was the most recent participant of ’10 Questions’ on ROHWrestling.com.
** “Speedball” Mike Bailey and Veda Scott appeared on the PWTorch Dailycast.
** WWE posted a trailer of their ‘Day Of’ series based on the 2020 Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
** Humberto Carrillo did an interview with ESPN Deportes and chatted about WrestleMania 37 returning to California. Humberto said he is excited about the announcement because of the Latino population in California and feels that it’ll be somewhat similar to a WrestleMania in Mexico.
“The fact that it is WrestleMania is a dream, since one wants to fulfill and then add that it is in Los Angeles, surrounded by many Hispanic people, from a lot of [Latinos], is one more point. It’s going to be a dream to be in WrestleMania, it’s going to be amazing. It will be one like everyone, which will be for history. I feel that it will be a WrestleMania in Mexico. It is a dream for many people. It will be the fourth time it will be in Los Angeles. It’s a dream for Latino fighters, for the people of Los Angeles, Tijuana, San Diego.”
** NWA World Women’s Champion Thunder Rosa joined Busted Open Radio with David LaGreca and Tommy Dreamer.
** WRESTLE-1 Results (2/12/20) Tokyo, Japan
– Kaz Hayashi def. Hajime
– Ganseki Tanaka, Ryuji Hijikata & Ryuki Honda def. Kai Fujimura, SUSHI & Takuro Niki
– Alejandro, Masayuki Kono & Yusuke Kodama def. El Hijo del Pantera, Jun Tonsho & Koju Takeda
– Three Way Tag Team Match: Daiki Inaba & Koji Doi def. Strong Hearts (Seiki Yoshioka & Shigehiro Irie) and Masato Tanaka & Pegaso Iluminar
– Kuma Arashi def. Cyrus The Destroyer
– MAZADA & Takanori Ito def. Seigo Tachibana & Shuji Kondo
– WRESTLE-1 Cruiser Fes 2020 Final: Heat def. Andy Wu
– WRESTLE-1 Championship: Katsuhiko Nakajima (c) def. Shotaro Ashino
** Newstalk870 has information up about how to secure tickets to WWE’s live event on February 16th in Kennewick, Washington.
** While speaking with Sports Illustrated, Big Show expressed that he believes Seth Rollins and Randy Orton are the best performers in the business.
“Seth Rollins and Randy Orton are the two best in the business. Seth Rollins can do it all. He’s incredibly talented, one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. Randy Orton makes everything he does in the ring look easy. He’s got such a fluidity to his movements. Randy always gets mad when I say this, but he makes it look easy and pretty, and Seth can literally do it all at a top level. Not do it all at a medium level, Seth can do it all at a top level.”