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 transcriptions.
** Renee Paquette welcomed CM Punk onto her ‘Oral Sessions’ podcast. Towards the conclusion of the interview, Renee asked CM Punk if he’d be interested in wrestling in NJPW. Punk mentioned Kazuchika Okada as someone that interests him.
“Oh, there’s this huge part of me that never wanted — the goal wasn’t to be a WWE superstar. I was content with wrestling in Japan. But Japan was a lot different when I went over there, and I got told by [Shinya] Hashimoto, as he was paying me, ‘You, good worker. Too big for cruiserweight, too small for heavyweight’ and I was like, ‘That sucks. Thanks a lot.’ But yeah, things are different now and I do think there’s guys in New Japan. I think [Kazuchika] Okada, and even saying that, I haven’t seen a lot of his stuff. I apologize profusely Okada-san. One of these days, maybe I’ll get around to it. Maybe I’m gonna get on the treadmill and I’ll watch some of your stuff right now. I just sound like the old guy who doesn’t f*cking know what’s going on.”
Punk and Renee talked about the impact that he’s had on the wrestling business. Punk spoke about opening doors for the likes of Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens.
“Yeah. The more they change, the more they stay the same. For ego purposes, while I do have one, it’s not as big as people like to imagine it is. I don’t take credit for anything that happened. I do think there’s probably a lot of people that wouldn’t currently have jobs if it wasn’t for me, but I’m more along the lines of like, if I ever helped you get a job, I was happy to do that and I always did stuff for the right reasons and if I’m no longer friends with certain people that I helped get there, I’m not like, ‘Ugh, I wish I never helped you.’ I’m just like whatever. I know what the truth is, they know what the truth is. But like the Kevin Steens and like the Sami Zayns, I don’t take credit for any of their success, I don’t take credit for Daniel Bryan getting a main event of WrestleMania. But, the truth is, a lot of that sh*t wouldn’t have happened if wasn’t for me, or at least for the vacuum that I created when I left.”
CM Punk was asked what would it take for him to return to pro wrestling. He weighed both options that AEW and WWE could possibly give him and he leaned towards AEW because of the fresh matchups that are there. He also believes that if AEW was around when his fallout with WWE happened, the sports-entertainment company would’ve handled things differently.
“Well, I think the landscape is currently much different than when I left, right? You could play the game where you’re like, ‘Oh, if AEW was an option, you would have gone right after you left WWE.’ If you’re gonna play that game, there’s no way they would have handled it the way they handled it with suspending me for two months and nobody contacting me and then, the next thing I know, I get release papers on my wedding day. That wouldn’t have happened if there was an AEW because then they probably would’ve approached me and been like, ‘Hey, your suspension’s up. Ready to come back to work? Like let’s work this out,’ you know? Or handle it like any other sports organization would’ve handled star pitcher f*cking going home. They’re not just gonna let him leave the team, they’re not gonna let him go to a rival organization. What would it take? Oh gosh. Without wanting to insult anybody on either side of the fence, any WWE talent, AEW talent, it would take, above all, an interesting scenario. A story that would be fun to tell. Also, just the stupidest amount of money. But they could save themselves a whole lot of money if they just presented a fun storyline. Now what that is? I don’t know. I’m a pretty picky guy, especially at this point. I think there’s more interesting people on the AEW side of things for me to wrestle but that’s just because I’ve never wrestled them before. Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, talking about your husband [Jon Moxley], I look at that and I go, ‘Well I wrestled him already, so it’s just less interesting than something new’ and on the WWE side of things, I don’t know that there’s anybody there currently that I haven’t wrestled that I’d be interested in wrestling.”
While on the topic of WWE’s third-party edict, Zelina Vega being released and Xavier Woods signing to G4, Punk recalled stories of WWE keeping opportunities away from certain talents and funneling those to their selected top stars.
“They would literally take every single request that came through and they would funnel it to the one person that they wanted to be the face of the company. I went — this is awesome. I went on a — it was a bachelor party for my buddy Jensen. We went to Pinball Factory here in Chicago, where they make a lot of the pinball games and a lot of people don’t know that Midway — is it Midway? Maybe, I don’t know. But anyway, so we were there and so the guy giving us the tour, the guy who owned the factory and all these pinball machines and this company, he was like, ‘Yeah, we wanted you on our WrestleMania-WWE pinball machine. They said no,’ and I was like, ‘What do you mean they said no?’ They were like, ‘No, don’t put him on that. We want this guy on it’ and we were like, ‘Oh whatever and we just did it.’ Still to this day, I’ll hear stuff like that, where people will be like, ‘Well we reached out. We had this offer for you,’ and they either never get back — it was like when THQ wanted me on the cover of the video game. I was forwarded the emails where they said, ‘No, no, no. Sheamus, Miz or John Cena.’ To their credit, Bryce [Yang], who is their head of all that stuff, he was like, ‘No, no, no. We want CM Punk. He’s like literally the guy right now and that might change in six months but we don’t care. He’s the popular guy.’ So, you know…”
Punk further talked about The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins & Jon Moxley) and their WWE debuts. He said that originally, the idea was pitched that Big Show and Daniel Bryan would be his security of sorts but Punk wanted fresh faces.
“I don’t know if you remember Eric Pankowski. Eric Pankowski was somebody that was hired to be a head writer and that is a job that has an expiration date.
He wasn’t there for a long time at least, and one of his ideas was, ‘We wanna have some guys with you, some bad guys to protect you. Chicken sh*t heel’ and I was like, ‘Great,’ and he said Daniel Bryan and Big Show and I was just like, ‘Why don’t we use guys that nobody’s seen before? Instead of all these guys that have already had this on-screen history that for better or for worse has been beat by everybody, probably me included at that point. So why don’t we get some new blood in there?’ And I went right to Vince [McMahon] and Triple H and I was like, ‘We gotta use some young guys and there’s guys that are ready’ and nobody else was watching FCW and saying, ‘Hey, we need these guys up. These guys are ready. They’re not getting any better down there. They’re at the point where they need to be on the road at least. Let’s get ‘em up, let’s get ‘em up.’ They obviously for whatever reason didn’t want Chris Hero as a part of it and they were high on Roman Reigns, so they came back with that and I was like, ‘Yeah great, let’s do it,’ because it needed — we needed new blood.”
** The Great Khali’s trainee, Badshah Khan told The Kashmir Monitor that he is preparing for the next round of WWE tryouts in India which are scheduled for March-April of 2021.
** Bertrand Hebert, co-author of Pat Patterson’s biography titled ‘Accepted: How The First Gay Superstar Changed WWE’ was a guest on David Penzer’s ‘Sitting Ringside’ podcast. Pat unfortunately passed away last week and Hebert came on the podcast to discuss Pat’s life and in-ring career. He shared that the last event Pat was present at was the 2020 Royal Rumble pay-per-view in Houston.
“He’s been a consultant pretty much — the Royal Rumble this year was the last show he attended, which is kind of fitting. He was less and less involved in the creative meeting except being there at the last meeting of production is my understanding. He would pitch his two cents but he had no horse in the battle, as they say. So he would just pitch his two cents. He would not fight for anything or anyone anymore, as he had pretty much put a cross on it that he wasn’t there often enough to get involved and put a lot of energy in winning a point and making a point.”
Patterson is known as the mind behind the Royal Rumble concept. An idea Pat had was to present a trophy to the winner of the Royal Rumble and that trophy would have the names and images of past winners on it.
“Because in the book, Pat tells the story of the last idea he had about the Rumble. He wanted them to create the Pat Patterson Cup, and give the trophy, like the Stanley Cup in Hockey. A trophy that kind of looked like that where you could put champagne and put all the names of all the winners and all the participants on the ring. He wanted something like that for the Royal Rumble so I think it’d be amazing to create the Pat Patterson Cup for the winner of the Rumble and go back to the past winners and add them to the bowl and add the pictures and I think it’d be an amazing, amazing homage to Pat.”
Pat was not as involved in the creative process over the past several years as he once was but one talent he was fond of was Chad Gable, according to Hebert.
“I remember the last wrestler he was very high on was Chad Gable. He had just seen him and he was like, he had an idea about what moves, the way he should work and all that. But like, once again, he was not involved enough to have any kind of influence but, he had become a huge fan of Chad Gable and nobody can deny, except for the fact that he’s short and they made a whole gimmick out of it. But he’s an amazing talent.”
** Former NXT developmental talent Chris Atkins was released from WWE in the spring of 2017. He was signed in 2015 and last wrestled for WWE at an NXT live event against Oney Lorcan. Chris recently did an interview ‘About Insider’ and spoke about his time in the company.
“I am happy with my time with WWE and all that it gave me. It brought me to America which was my first dream when I was 14. It has given me opportunities in Hollywood I may not have had without a WWE background. Obviously it would’ve been nice to have become WWE champion and climb the WWE ladder as The Rock and John Cena did but I loved my time there and have no regrets. Just grateful.”
** Paul “Triple H” Levesque was a guest on Metal Injection’s Squared Circle Pit podcast. He used a music analogy to describe the differences between RAW/SmackDown and NXT. Here is what he had to say:
“I feel like sometimes, you know, in a way, RAW and SmackDown are like Pop music. They [are] the most popular, the most exposure, the biggest swath of like mainstream, everything that you can see. I might not be the biggest fan of the genre of music but I would go to one of those concerts and go like, ‘Wow, that was great. Man, what a performance and the whole thing of it was just phenomenal. Not my cup of tea musically but man, it was incredible’ and I think from a Pop music standpoint, that’s what RAW and SmackDown are to me. They are Pop music. That excitement, the fun, the energy. All of those things and they connect to everybody and everybody can enjoy them, and then NXT’s sort of a little bit more of its own niche. The metal and the harder edge and just more aggressive and it’s not that the product is necessarily any different in its execution, it’s the presentation of such and it’s just different and I think in some ways, they all have to have a little bit of that difference — the brands — to incorporate their own feel so that they’re not all the same.”
** WWE’s Matt Riddle filed a motion on 12/3 to dismiss the lawsuit that was brought against him by Samantha Tavel (Candy Cartwright). Back in October, Tavel filed a suit against Riddle, EVOLVE and the promotion’s booker Gabe Sapolsky. She’s seeking $10 million from each of the respective parties, claiming that Riddle sexually harassed/assaulted her in May of 2018 and he forced her to perform oral sex. These allegations became public during the #SpeakingOut movement. The suit also alleges that Riddle prevented her from being able to take dates with WWE.
** The Amway Center’s Twitter thanked WWE for hosting the ThunderDome at the venue. The new home of the ThunderDome will be Tropicana Field.
** Dax Harwood of FTR was profiled by ‘The News Reporter’ and during their chat, he mentioned that prior to signing with WWE, he was seriously considering ending his pro wrestling career.
“I thought that I had done as much as I could. I thought [WWE] would never look at a guy like me who isn’t above six-feet tall, who doesn’t have everything going for him except for his ability in the ring and his work ethic.”
** Joseph Meehan (Joey Ryan) filed a request for a summary judgement against IMPACT Wrestling’s parent company Anthem in November. Meehan alleges that Anthem did not respond to his lawsuit in a timely manner. Meehan is suing the company because he feels that they breached his contract when they released him as he was being named during the #SpeakingOut movement. Anthem denied all of Meehan allegations against them, citing that his contract ran through August of 2021 “unless earlier terminated”. Meehan initially filed the suit in September and Anthem did not respond until December 4th.
** Following NXT TakeOver: WarGames, Damian Priest was the first guest on the rebooted X-Pac 12360 podcast. Priest spoke about the storyline involving himself, Leon Ruff and North American Champion Johnny Gargano. He admitted that initially, he wasn’t too sure about Leon being inserted into the story but Leon grew on him.
“When we first started this whole ordeal, I’ll be completely honest and I even said — I explained that to Leon [Ruff] where I wasn’t 100 percent invested in it. I didn’t know what to expect. To me of course, everybody has a better idea, everybody is the best booker ever, right? So I had other ideas, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know him, so to me it was like what are we doing? And then, we did it. Okay, we got it done and then I got to meet him and be around him a little bit more and actually have conversation with the kid, and then we progressed and just the way this — what’s happened, I couldn’t have imagined a cooler storyline that was about me and somebody else but then, actually elevated and helped somebody else deservingly. Super cool, and I really like Leon Ruff. He’s actually just as lovable, humble, respectful as you see. The person you see on TV, that’s really who he is. So I’m really happy that he’s getting this spotlight and I don’t know what his career is gonna be, I don’t know what is gonna develop from this, but I look forward to watching it and following the ride like anybody else, because he hit my heart too just like most of the audience, you know what I mean? I actually fell fond of the person because he’s so — he really… he loves this business like we do and he’s a little younger and less experienced so he’s like that raw love that you wish to find in something like this and something that we cherish like this business, and I’m so happy for him and I’m glad he got this opportunity.”
** Bianca Belair was interviewed by ‘Metro’. She reflected on Paul Heyman’s praise of her while they were on Talking Smack together.
“To hear Paul Heyman saying those words about me, even though we didn’t win at Survivor Series, I was able to shine. I call myself the EST of WWE and it’s one thing for me to say it, but to hear someone like Paul Heyman say that, really just builds the confidence in me. I know how much experience he has in this business, I know the eye he has to scout out talent. I know how high he was on the Street Profits and to see the success their having – to see that he’s that high on me, it only brings my confidence even higher.”
** New Japan Pro-Wrestling unveiled the match cards for the 12/11 and 12/18 episodes of NJPW Strong.
– Clark Connors & The DKC vs. The Riegel Twins (Logan & Sterling Riegel)
– Juice Robinson, David Finlay & Misterioso vs. BULLET CLUB (Tanga Loa, Chase Owens & Hikuleo)
– ACH vs. Tama Tonga
– Karl Fredericks vs. Jay White
– Rocky Romero vs. Danny Limelight
– Jeff Cobb vs. Rust Taylor
– PJ Black & Fred Rosser vs. JR Kratos & Tom Lawlor
– IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Title Challenger Contract: KENTA (c) vs. Brody King
** FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) joined Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s podcast following their #1 ranking in PWI’s top tag teams of the year. Dax Harwood reflected on he and Cash’s time in WWE and said that although they found success in NXT, they did not want that time to be their overall legacy in WWE.
“Really quick, to circle back what you just said, that was the thing that scared us the most in WWE. We didn’t want NXT to be our legacy,” Harwood said. “As proud as we were, we didn’t want that to be the end of our legacy. I mean if it was, we could go down and say, ‘Okay, we became tag team of the year, the first-ever two-time NXT Tag Team Champions, we won WWE match of the year’ and that’s all great, but we did not want that to be the finish of our legacy.”
** POST Wrestling’s John Pollock caught up with Mauro Ranallo for an exclusive interview. Over the Summer, Mauro and WWE mutually agreed to part ways and Mauro dove into his decision to step away from the company again. He thanked the company for all they did for him but added that it was not the best place for his mental health.
“Alright, and again, I wanna than Triple H who by the way, sent me a very nice text message after the [Mike] Tyson pay-per-view. Yeah, WWE is one of the most mentally grueling places and that’s not necessarily a criticism by any means. There’s a reason Vince McMahon has built a multi-billion dollar empire. Is it perfect? Not by any means but neither am I, and I chose at a late age in life, 46, to go to WWE. When they courted me, it was a dream come true. I wanted to work for WWE as a play-by-play announcer because I thought it would be not only an affirmation of my accomplishments and my achievements and who I am as a broadcaster but because the connection I had with pro wrestling going back to the very beginning of my life. One of the few things that my father, mother and my siblings really bonded around and so pro wrestling has always had a special place in my heart and I did visualize — I remember my best friend, Michael John Janzen who passed away at 19. When I went to go pick him up at his college when he was 18, out of the blue, he says to me, he goes, ‘I can’t wait for you to work with Vince McMahon or for Vince McMahon.’ He never got to live to see that so making WWE was very special to me for many reasons. Now, I thought Jerry Lawler and Byron Saxton and I had instant chemistry but they made the changes they felt they had to make. It’s their company. I’ve proven I can work with almost anyone as a broadcaster but yeah, there were many times where I’m like, ‘What is going on here?’ Like a four-man booth and eight-man. There was a picture someone had on Twitter where there were literally eight people on headsets. I get it, but that’s not what I want as a commentator. I get the stressful situations, I get the changes on the fly or it’s just the system there. But for me and my mental health — even moving to NXT where it was the best experience I could ask for and that’s a testament to what Triple H and everyone down in NXT has done. I just felt for my own mental health and it was becoming more and more apparent. Doing the show and even from home, I know, God bless his soul, Jim Cornette and many people, ‘How the hell can this guy quit a high paying gig, high profile gig of which they are so few in this world, and actually, he can do the show from his home. They’re allowing him to do the show from home, remotely. How could he leave?’ It was to the point that I would have panic attacks on the morning of the recordings, of the last few months and I didn’t like — with all due respect, I didn’t like what was happening and who was involved and all respect to all announcers but I also believe in chemistry and maybe I was the problem.
On show day, I’m not a great guy to be around because I’m completely f’ing focused. I’m prepared and I expect everyone else to be the same and so, there you go. There was another reason. I’m a play-by-play announcer. I think I’m one of the better ones in the business and I don’t need — I need to be left alone at times and so, I wanna thank WWE for everything. They’ve improved my standing in the world, they’ve allowed me, I believe, to get other opportunities. The fan base and their treatment of yours truly, their support of my documentary. There will never be — and I know this business feeds off it. ‘Aw, let’s tell all. The shoot interview.’ The shoot is this: It was like my life. Filled with highs and lows, trails and tribulations. Sometimes you know, when the dream comes true, it doesn’t necessarily remain a dream. Sometimes you’re not supposed to meet your heroes. I am blessed that I met everyone. I am so thankful.”
During the pandemic, Mauro called the action of NXT remotely. He praised WWE for their production value. One of Mauro’s gripes is that he’s not a fan of more than two people calling the action and it was frustrating for him at times.
“Despite everything else going on, their production value is amazing so you’re right, they made it work and there’s so many people like my friend Nic and all of the engineering staff, the behind-the-scenes crew, the technical crew that made this possible. They’re geniuses, they’re incredible. But yeah, highly frustrating and I believe that’s what really started to trigger my issues. I had many meltdowns. I’m pretty sure I may have traumatized Beth Phoenix at times and I just felt we tried to make it work and it’s almost impossible man, especially three-man booths. I’m a traditionalist. I want two men, at times I think I could do it by myself but I think a two-man booth is the ideal situation. That’s why I had so much fun with Josh Barnett, doing New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Obviously, we make three-man booths work. We made a four-man booth work at the Tyson pay-per-view so I mean, I can do it, but it definitely led to my struggles, the way it was set up.”
** Scott Fishman of TV Insider caught up with Lio Rush to promote his appearance on the forthcoming season of The Challenge. Lio detailed how his background in pro wrestling helped him prepare for what was to come on the MTV hit show.
“The physicality of the game definitely helped. Being a smaller guy, you don’t look at me and say, ‘Well, he’s a threat.’ I’m so used to picking up and throwing guys who are 200 or 300 pounds. Mentally, the overall WWE experience drains you mentally — that helped from the psychology standpoint. The brain has been conditioned to handle stressful situations.”
** On the most recent episode of Tama Tonga’s ‘Tama’s Island’ podcast, he dove into why he cut his hair off and shaved his beard. Tama feels that he was trying to appeal to the American audience while wrestling in Japan and once he made the change in appearance, he noticed more fanfare from the Japanese fans.
“I wanted to grow. I wanted to evolve. I didn’t wanna stay the same. I felt like the look and everything was coming to an end, and… I knew it was cool. I didn’t wanna cut my hair, but at the same time I wanted to cut my hair. I didn’t wanna shave my beard but at the same time I wanted to shave my beard, and I came to a realization one day, this whole time, because I lived in America, because I watch American wrestling, because the people I associated with was all American wrestling, I was catering to the American fans. The look and the everything was an American style. It’s a badass, it’s what everybody wanted. It’s not, ‘Oh, you’re not badass if you don’t look badass,’ and finally I was like, ‘Yo…’ it took me so long and I was like, I live in Japan. I need to cater to Japanese fans and they don’t have the same taste as the American fans. So then I was like, ‘You know what? I need –’ I remember when I first came here to Japan, clean cut and everything and I was instantly over. I was instantly over and I was in magazines and I remember they did a spread on me and I was like what the f*ck? And I just didn’t get it. I thought they did this to everybody.”
** El Phantasmo previewed the NJPW Super J-Cup field.
** Apollo Crews appeared on Lilian Garcia’s ‘Chasing Glory’ podcast.
** Liv Morgan appeared on ‘Superstar Savepoint’ on the UpUpDownDown YouTube channel.
** Here’s episode two of NWA Shockwave:
** IMPACT Wrestling’s Tasha Steelz appeared on the Women’s Wrestling Talk podcast.
** Former two-time AJW Junior Champion Chigusa Nagayo turned 56-years old on 12/8.
** FOX 44 spoke with WWE Champion Drew McIntyre.
** Adam Cole and Xavier Woods played WWE Supercard.
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 transcriptions.