POST NEWS UPDATE: Naomi opens up about her 2019, being an African-American in wrestling

Naomi opens up about her rough 2019, Shawn Spears says he plans on wrapping his career up in two years, Piper Niven opens up about her battle with Bell's Palsy, Kevin Nash says he wouldn't have dropped the WWF Championship to Bret Hart without a guaranteed victory over The Undertaker at WrestleMania.

If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcription.

** The Women’s Wrestling Weekly podcast welcomed Naomi onto the show. Naomi was candid about her absence from WWE TV in 2019 and she went through several personal and health issues that led to her stepping away to recover mentally, physically and emotionally.

“2019 kicked my ass, pretty much. I lost my cousin, who was like a sister-cousin. Same age. She passed tragically giving birth so that was — I had never experienced [having to] deal with anything like that, and there was just no way I could focus and work going through that. So I took time off for that. Also, before that happened, I was just extremely exhausted, extremely tired, maybe for the like the past year and, we all work so hard and we never wanna say, ‘I need time off’ or ‘I need a break.’ Only time in ten years I’ve ever taken time off, legitimately, was due to injuries and even that isn’t time off because you’re so stressed out about missing out, your spot being taken and trying to rehab. That’s probably one of the most stressful things so, I finally just had to get myself together, mentally, emotionally, physically. I was just breaking down so when I asked for that time off to bury my cousin and to go back home and be there with my family, and her kids that are left here, I end up going to the doctor just to see what was wrong with me because it was very hard for me to get through matches. I was extremely fatigued all the time. I was literally chugging energy drinks just to get through the days of travel and matches. I didn’t know what was wrong. I found out I was severely anemic. I never knew that. So bad to the point where the doctors told me had I came in later, whatever count was at a 9.4, if it would’ve got under a nine, then I probably would’ve [needed] a blood transfusion which that blew my mind, because I always thought I’m fine, I’m healthy, I’m working out everyday, I’m eating good. But it was that, and I found out I had a stomach ulcer. I found out I was completely Vitamin D deficient, so I was just… I don’t even know how I was going through everything and life and my schedule that way, and so finding that out really woke me up and helped me to realize that I really need to take better care of myself instead of being so focused on everyone and everything else.

And just taking a mental break. That’s what it was more than anything, and I didn’t expect to be off that long but, that’s just how it ended up happening and how storylines went and I needed it. That was a hard time, a scary time because obviously I miss work, and you never wanna take off for those kind of things and yeah. I was really able to reconnect with my family, my loved ones, my friends who I haven’t seen in years just because I’ve been on the road and traveling and so focused on work and the schedules never work.”

The former two-time SmackDown Women’s Champion was asked about racism in wrestling. She stated that the gist of it comes from social media but there were comments made to her early on in her WWE career that she feels were made because she is a black woman.

“Absolutely, from the social media. That’s something on a regular that we deal with all the time everyday. It’s crazy the type of negativity I get and one of the things that bother me is that people feel like they can say whatever they want, be as disrespectful as they want and talent has no right or no room to respond back or should just be quiet or should take the high road. Well, I feel like you can state your opinion and still take the high road. You can check people without being disrespectful or you can let people know like, ‘I handle my own social media.’ Most of us do, so you constantly see that stuff like all the time. We’re not fishing for it, and if sometimes I got time for it and some days I don’t but, what I’m not gonna do is sit back and be bullied. If somebody says something crazy to me… it shouldn’t be a shock if I respond back if I don’t like what you said. But, I feel like that’s something we really deal with a lot nowadays because we didn’t have Instagram ten years ago when I came in and Twitter wasn’t as prominent as it is now so, that’s crazy.

As far as the WWE, I feel like I’ve been treated very, very well. I can’t complain. I feel like I’ve had an amazing career. However, I do know that there are some struggles in things that I’ve had to experience and go through because I am black and I was different at the time I came in. At the time, the prototype was not me, was not anything like me. The face was Kelly Kelly at the time. Kelly Kelly is stunning, gorgeous, blonde hair, blue eyes, like beautiful, stunning but, now we see there’s so much diversity and I love that but just the time I came in, there were struggles, there were talk to’s — me being pulled to the side to talk about my look and certain ways I was carrying myself and I feel like that had everything to do with me being black, but I’ve seen so many changes and I’ve seen so much growth in the company and a lot of those people that were — I felt like would say sideways things or things to me that I felt were inappropriate are no longer here so…”

Naomi also revealed that a year ago when she wasn’t being used on TV, she asked to make the move to NXT and she praised NXT’s Bianca Belair as well and wanted to work with her on-screen.

“I asked about a year ago to go down to NXT to work. I just think NXT is awesome. I love NXT and also, the time I wasn’t being used much on the main roster so, I was like, ‘Dang, can I go down there and just see what I can get into, what could happen, and the talent down there is just so good.’ Just so good, and this was at the time where… I love Bianca, and her personality and her spirit is even more beautiful so, that was one idea I had. I either wanted to go work against her or to be with her or to do this story but it wasn’t the right time and also, B is a star all on her own and I think they want her to be that and come into her own but, it’s just a dream of mine because we’ve never officially had two African-American tag team champions. That’s never happened, and I think, it might’ve been me and Cameron — we were the first legit, two black tag team females.”

** Inside The Ropes released their interview with NXT U.K.’s Piper Niven. The two parties chatted about Niven’s battle with Bell’s Palsy. Piper went into detail about her struggles with it and how she was able to overcome the mental battle that came with Bell’s Palsy.

“I’m not gonna be shy, it was terrible. It was really awful. Most people get really lucky with Bell’s Palsy and it’s not painful. I spent three solid weeks in absolute agony. Debilitatingly painful, and mine was caused by a tooth infection, and I had to get the tooth pulled out which was hard because it just crumpled to bits and even when I was coming into the office today, my gums [are] still spitting out shards of bone and all of [my] face, it felt like I had been repeatedly punch in the face and that, on top of having a tooth pulled out as well. So I couldn’t eat for weeks, couldn’t do anything. I was just in absolute crippling agony all the time and then on top of the actual physical pain, it was… not to sound vain, but I thought, ‘I’m in the public eye and I’m always gonna look like this.’ I didn’t know if it was gonna go back to normal or if it would ever get better and I recently got engaged. I thought, ‘Am I gonna look like this on my wedding day and stuff?’ But, in saying that, just a few short days after it happened, I had a One Fall Session show back home in Scotland and I thought about if I should I cancel it or do it. I thought, with the message I’ve always tried to put out there with my wrestling about loving yourself and being happy with who you are and not being ashamed of yourself. I thought, ‘If I don’t do this now, I’d be an absolute hypocrite. I’d be a complete hypocrite’ and I went and I felt really comfortable because I know all those people were there to see me and it just felt like I was going to a show and hanging out with my mates.”

** Scott Fishman of TV Insider interviewed Lio Rush and brought up a tweet that Rush sent out in early February noting that, “You’re going to miss me.” Rush clarified why he sent that tweet out and the meaning behind it:

“The tweet I sent out goes back to that I feel like a lot of people are going to miss the person that I am right now. I feel like a lot of people are tempting me to become the person I used to be before I got to WWE. Lately, I’ve been, not on egg shells, but sitting back and looking at what’s going on in the locker room and outside the locker room. People like Jordan Devlin who are underestimating me playing Mr. Nice Guy since I got back. I feel like I need somebody’s approval or [to] please people. I’m stepping into the next stage [of] who I am as a person and performer. I have no remorse now. I feel like I’ve been holding back as a performer. I’m out to show everybody that I am the greatest professional wrestler in the world. That I’m the greatest sports entertainer in the world. People are going to miss me because now I’m stepping into this new me. They’re not going to like it as much as the old me that I’ve been putting out there.”

Lio Rush had high praise for the black athletes in NXT. He talked about Josiah Williams’ video that Josiah created for Black History Month and how impactful Josiah has been for the NXT brand.

“I love that video that he put out. I feel like one of WWE’s [best] signings was Josiah. He is an incredible asset to NXT, WWE, and the African American community. Representation is huge. I feel like right now we have some of the best athletes that WWE has ever seen. I’ve been watching wrestling since age five, and I feel like I’ve never seen this large amount of African American talent in WWE as much as we have right now. Everybody is at the top of their game proving that we are just as ‘deserving’ of opportunities within WWE as anyone else. Especially, with this month being Black History Month and being in these top tier matches and leading into WrestleMania, it’s a beautiful thing. Seeing Velveteen Dream come back and Keith Lee at the top of the mountain, Bianca Belair got the opportunity she had. The New Day are always representing the African American community as well as they do. It’s just awesome. I hope that one day, and I know Rome wasn’t built in a day, but that we can just see it as history instead of black history. I don’t want to feel like this month in particular is the month for time to showcase what we are capable of and hopefully one day in the world,what we do can just be seen as world history instead of black history.”

** Will Ospreay became RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Champion by defeating Zack Sabre Jr. at ‘High Stakes’ on February 14th. RevPro promoter Andy Quildan spoke with Sports Illustrated about the title win and also praised Zack Sabre Jr.

“This was the culmination of a seven-year journey for Will. It was a coming-of-age story for Will, returning to the venue where he was greeted like a superstar for the very first time after competing in the Best of the Super Juniors, the venue where he competed against AJ Styles, and a venue that is literally a stone’s throw away from his house. It was a special night in terms of the atmosphere with him and his journey, and that story wouldn’t be as perfect without a foil in Zack Sabre Jr. When you think of British professional wrestling, you think of Zack Sabre Jr. Stylistically, there is no one who exemplifies that British style more than Zack Sabre Jr. He’s been able to modernize the British style of professional wrestling, and you can’t think about the British Heavyweight Championship and you can’t think about British wrestling without thinking about Zack Sabre Jr. The pure emotion of the whole situation stood out as Will went up against one of the best wrestlers in the world.”

** Fightful Select learned details about why CFO$ is no longer working with WWE. It is noted in the report that CFO$ had an issue with their publisher. The music group were out a significant cut of money and a source indicated to the site that WWE was on board with buying CFO$ out of their deal but their publisher rejected the idea. WWE hoped to bring the group in but talks slowed down. It’s also noted in the report that there is a thought that CFO$ has a non-compete clause in their contract with their publisher which is why they haven’t returned. WWE is still looking for employees to fill the spot that was left by CFO$.

** Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, Ricky Morton, Jimmy Valiant and Kelly Kelly will all be present at Volunteer Speedway in Greene County, Tennessee in May for Hazzard Fest.

** While appearing on ESPN 1530, Al Snow shared that Paul Heyman was not a fan of his mannequin “Head”.

** The WWEPC YouTube channel posted the following backstage footage of Bianca Belair at NXT TakeOver: Portland:

 

** Northern Tier Wrestling is hosting a tribute show on March 1st for a supporter of theirs who unfortunately passed away. The show is called the “Nikki Baker Memorial Show” and Nikki was married to Northern Tier wrestler Jeff Thomas.

** ICW World Heavyweight Champion Noam Dar did an interview with the Jewish Telegraph and although he last wrestled at the NXT U.K. TV tapings in one match this past January, Dar made sure to mention that he is still with NXT UK full-time but his new schedule has freed him up to work for Insane Championship Wrestling more consistently.

“Now that I’m a full-time NXT UK talent, and back living in Scotland, I’m more available to ICW. I started there when I was 16, so to be able to be in a position to help give back to the company that gave me so much is one of the main reasons why I am so pro-active in making sure I would be featured in ICW while the chance was there. I’ve got a lot of personal goals I want to achieve, but there’s a lot of fulfillment that has to be made. This is a good opportunity to do that. If there is any opportunity to make news, then that is something I’m going to do.”

** Jamie Senegal is taking on Ariane Andrew in Andrew’s return match at EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch show.

** All Elite Wrestling made the official announcement that they’re teaming up with Wicked Cool Toys and Jazwares to create AEW action figures which will debut this Summer.

** Dalton Castle has been added to the Supercard Of Honor lineup.

** Prior to the 2/19/20 episode of NXT going live on the USA Network, Candice LeRae and Kacy Catanzaro teamed up and defeated Deonna Purrazzo and Taynara. Also, Damian Priest defeated Cameron Grimes.

** Austin Aries, Logan Stunt and Diamond Dallas Page were all backstage at AEW Dynamite in Atlanta. Next week’s edition of AEW Dark will feature Jimmy Havoc vs. Marko Stunt, and Joey Janela took on Kip Sabian in a Falls Count Anywhere match. Also, The Dark Order (Evil Uno & Stu Grayson) clashed with CIMA and T-Hawk. The final dark match of the night saw Dustin Rhodes and QT Marshall (w/ Brandi Rhodes) take on Peter Avalon and Shawn Spears (w/ Leva Bates & Tully Blanchard)

** Daily Echo published a story about the All Star Wrestling promotion to promote their February 21st event.

** Colt Cabana noted on Twitter that he was not supposed to be in the ring with the CHAOS faction while they were honoring Tiger Hattori. Cabana added that he is not in CHAOS but Toru Yano told him it was okay to be out there.

** RKJ is taking on ROH World Tag Team Champion Jay Lethal at RevPro’s ‘Lethal Weapon’ show on March 8th.

** New Japan Pro-Wrestling posted a video to their English YouTube channel about Manabu Nakanishi’s retirement:

 

** The first episode of the AEW Unrestricted podcast premiered with Aubrey Edwards and Tony Schiavone hosting. The first guest on the show was Jon Moxley and during their chat, Moxley opened up about having to pull out of his ‘All Out’ match with Kenny Omega and he also detailed the lingering injuries that were bothering him on the lead-up to AEW’s TNT debut on October 2nd.

“When I had to pull out of the All Out pay-per-view, I was just like, gutted. I had never really had to pull out of a match before that I can think of, and it was such a big match. We sold so many tickets so fast and I was like, ‘Oh God!’ Just a reoccurring, nagging thing and it was like a WWE injury that’s come back. It felt like it had been following me. I felt like WWE got the last laugh. Like they were like, ‘Haha! Gotcha’, but so then I had to recover from that. Probably came back quicker than I should’ve but I was like, ‘We start on TV and I gotta be there’ and I don’t wanna miss a month of — it’s like the Maiden voyage, October 2nd. I was like, ‘I gotta be there’ so, I had another thing. I had a problem with my C6 and 7 in my neck but I didn’t really make a big deal out of talking about it because I just worked through it until I finally got it — I was in Japan for about five weeks, and I had pinched nerve, that was just creating this horrible pain that was going all the way down to my elbow up into my neck and into my shoulder, to where like, my left arm started to… I couldn’t fire my left pec or my left tricep, and it started to kind of shrink and started to atrophy a little bit. So, I’d be about to go out for a match and try to warm up and I literally couldn’t do five push-ups. My right side was good but my left side was all — so, that was freaky. But when I got it properly diagnosed, I did about a month of spinal re-compression, now it’s pretty good. Still lingers a little bit but it’s not painful, and I’ll continue doing that and helping that out and staying on top of that and keeping myself healthy so that was two really horrible things I had to work through that were low points.”

** Here’s the newest episode of Battle Of The Brands on the UpUpDownDown YouTube channel:

 

** With Tiger Hattori officially retiring, WWE sent flowers to New Japan Pro-Wrestling to congratulate Hattori.

** During an international media call with NXT Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley (via talkSPORT), Rhea stated that she wants to get more tattoo work done on her upper body but WWE has not cleared her for it. She added that she wears pants in the ring so she doesn’t have to get her leg tattoos cleared.

** CM Punk joked along with a Twitter user about Saudi Arabia having an XFL team.

** Tommy Fierro’s new promotion ‘Retro Championship Wrestling’ is scheduled to have a show on April 24th in Totowa, New Jersey and at the event, former WWE star Snitsky will be appearing and Tito Santana is debuting as the commissioner for the promotion.

** David Starr vs. Jon Moxley is official for OTT’s ScrapperMania 6 show on March 14th.

** AAA’s Pagano is debuting for MLW at ‘Intimidation Games’ on April 18th.

** Stonecutter Media is launching a series of videos which will include material from earlier on in wrestlers’ careers. The videos will be On Demand and on PPV and a video about The Young Bucks is currently up. Videos about Joey Janela, Kevin Owens and Drew Gulak are debuting soon.

** This past Tuesday’s episode of WWE Backstage drew 127,000 viewers, per Showbuzz Daily. This episode was down from last week’s show which brought in 169,000 viewers. The 2/18/20 episode featured NXT North American Champion Keith Lee and Mark Henry as guests.

** Mark Haskins is taking on former ROH Pure Champion John Walters at Ring of Honor’s Past vs. Present show on March 14th.

** WWE Backstage on FS1 will broadcast live from Tampa, Florida during WrestleMania 36 weekend.

** Soon-to-be two-time WWE Hall Of Famers Scott Hall and Kevin Nash joined Corey Graves on After The Bell. Hall and Nash were asked who would they pick to join them, Sean “X-Pac” Waltman and Hogan on stage for their induction into the WWE Hall Of Fame this year and here are their respective selections:

Scott Hall: “I guess, from a fan’s point of view, maybe they wouldn’t agree but from somebody who’s behind the curtain, I would think Eazy E. I would think Eric Bischoff because the whole thing was his idea, but I guess if you’re a viewing fan, you don’t see it that way. That’s the way I see it. I would have Bischoff up there with us.”

Kevin Nash: “I would have Kevin Sullivan. Yeah, because Sullivan was the guy that basically… though it was Eric’s idea, Sullivan was the one that made sure… there’s always been the equation that if you’re a heel, in order for you to be successful it’s like a hot air balloon and the more heat that you allow inside that balloon, the higher it goes and the more valuable that heel energy is, and Sullivan just really battled day in, day out to make sure that they didn’t take heat off us, and nobody got through the n.W.o. and Sullivan always books heat and he continued to book heat and his booking of that heat is what made the nWo.”

Kevin Nash stayed on the podcast for the remainder of the show and he and Corey Graves chatted about a variety of topics. Graves asked Nash what would’ve happened in his career had he stayed with WWF and didn’t go to WCW and Nash said he wouldn’t have dropped the world title to Bret Hart unless he was guaranteed a win over The Undertaker at WrestleMania.

“If I would’ve stayed, I wouldn’t have dropped the belt to Bret to give to Shawn unless I was guaranteed a win at Mania against Taker. I wouldn’t have done it. I would’ve had too many losses in a row. I would’ve needed a big win right there. So then there goes the streak. I’m just saying, butterfly effect. Mark wasn’t a mark. For me to do business, that could’ve been a possibility. I’m not saying it would’ve happened, I’m not saying if Vince would’ve booked it I would’ve went over but I definitely wouldn’t have coughed it up without something. I was leaving so I mean, it was just like, ‘Alright.’ It was a lot of things that could’ve changed.”

** OTT announced that Tyler Bate will not be able to compete at their ‘Dead On’ show on February 23rd due to injury.

** SHLAK vs. Rickey Shane Page has been added to ICW New York’s show in Tampa, Florida on April 2nd.

** WrestlingINC conducted an interview with IMPACT X Division Champion Ace Austin.

** At Ring of Honor’s 18th anniversary show, there will be a four-way match between Dan Maff, Kenny King, Bateman and Shane Taylor and the winner will earn a shot at any title in Ring of Honor of their choosing.

** All Elite Wrestling posted Cody’s post-show promo after defeating Wardlow inside a Steel Cage on Dynamite in Atlanta, Georgia:

 

** The next episode of WWE’s ‘Break It Down’ will feature Trish Stratus and it will premiere on the WWE Network on March 1st.

** Joey Janela is scheduled to be the next guest in the AEW Discord chat.

** Chris Bey was the most recent guest on IMPACT Wrestling’s ‘Behind The Lights’ show on the company’s Twitch channel.

** In her latest piece for the Calgary Sun, Natalya wrote about the forthcoming Elimination Chamber event where she, Asuka, Shayna Baszler, Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan and Ruby Riott will compete inside the Chamber to determine Becky Lynch’s opponent at WrestleMania 36.

** The 2/19/20 edition of Miz & Mrs. on the USA Network brought in 500,000 viewers, per Showbuzz Daily. That is the highest number of the current season.

** While speaking with Chris Van Vliet, AEW’s Shawn Spears reflected on his chair shot on Cody Rhodes at AEW’s Fyter Fest show in June of 2019. Van Vliet mentioned that AEW higher ups spoke about the chair being gimmicked but Spears questions if that is the case because if it was completely gimmicked, nothing would’ve went wrong in that scenario.

“So, I always get… it’s funny because, if the chair was gimmicked, then nothing would’ve went wrong. So, clearly the chair wasn’t fully gimmicked. It’s a steel chair. There’s gonna be a part of it that isn’t doctored in any way, shape or form and that was a concern of ours throughout the evening. We’re just going through the chairs. There was two separate ones. There was one chair and then there was a backup chair just in case or whatever like that. They were both the exact same, nothing different. It was just one of those things where a fraction of a centimeter was off. Either, I was too far away, and when I asked, even Cody would say, ‘I leaned in too much.’ It’s like, ‘No. It’s no one’s fault really. It was a moment in time, it’s what we did. I swung for the fences, he leaned in and it’s just that one little bit caught him.’ I didn’t know he was bleeding because I kind of had a moment with Brandi [Rhodes] where I looked at her, and kind of had a little stare down with her and then I looked at him to kind of get that one more shot and I saw the red. I was like, ‘Sh*t!’ So, you know, that was not the way… in terms of storyline, it came off better than… it came off best case scenario. Personally, the guy’s a very good friend of mine. I don’t want to put ten staples in his head. So, but it’s wrestling, things happen. I’m pretty sure I’ll be on the tail end of a bad shot at some point in the next two years before I wrap things up.”

** On next week’s NXT UK, Toni Storm and Kay Lee Ray will compete in an I Quit match for the NXT U.K. Women’s Championship. In two weeks, Dave Mastiff is challenging WALTER for the NXT U.K. Championship.

** Donny Starr of Daily DDT interviewed Wes Logan and Tyler Hobson about their experiences as African-Americans in wrestling and the landscape of the business today.

** WWE gave their French announce team a custom WWE Championship belt.

If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcription.

About Andrew Thompson 330 Articles
A Maryland native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.