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.
** The 200th episode of Keepin’ It Strong Style featured an in-depth conversation with Rocky Romero. Rocky has played a key role in the presentation of NJPW STRONG and bringing talents in to be a part of the show tapings. As of the podcast recording, Rocky’s number one goal for STRONG is to get the show onto cable television or another streaming service on top of NJPW World and FITE.
I think the number one goal would be to secure some kind of free television or cable television obviously. Or maybe some kind of streaming deal where, you know, somewhere where it’s easily accessible and on a platform where it could definitely get more eyes. I mean obviously there’s, you know, our main show, World Pro-Wrestling. Whatever that was — what AXS was before. I mean obviously that show is gonna be always a little bit more sought over because it’s got the bigger talent and it’s the big arenas and the big crowds but, I think that STRONG has a good opportunity to maybe be on a smaller platform. You know, like maybe it’s an ESPN3 or something like that or [ESPN]2 or whatever. FOX Sports West. I don’t know. Something where maybe even regional would be a big plus. So I wouldn’t count that out. I think that that’s probably the goal and then obviously I think establishing a good fan base on the west coast in L.A. would be smart just because most of us live here and it’s easy and it makes the STRONG tapings way more affordable when we’re in the west coast and then going on tour maybe like every other month to like wherever, New York, Philly, east coast. Tampa was great to us, our St. Pete area was awesome to us so, yeah. Just want to travel and I think, just, a lot of people still don’t know what STRONG is. Like most casual fans so I feel like it’s gonna take touring, it’s gonna take obviously another platform to be on besides New Japan World and FITE, but I think we’ll get there and I think it’s all just good timing, you know?
Rocky was once one-half of Roppongi Vice alongside Trent. The duo captured the IWGP Junior Tag Titles four times. Rocky would love to reunite with Trent in AEW. He thinks that it might’ve happened by now if Trent was not hurt. Rocky added that he thinks the spot Wheeler YUTA is in with Best Friends is where he would have been slotted.
I mean I would love that [Roppongi Vice reunion]. I would love that and I think that-that could have been a possibility maybe if Trent didn’t get injured. I think that easily could’ve happened. But, it’s kind of cool because I think the spot maybe I would’ve been in got passed to Wheeler [YUTA] which is dope for him and I’m really happy for him because I want to see him succeed. I believe in him a lot. So I mean, you know, my old ass can just go in whenever so whenever they need me.
Yeah, as soon as Trent’s back, I mean I don’t know what his plans are but somewhere down the line when he’s ready, I would love to do that in AEW, I would to do that in New Japan STRONG. You know, I don’t know. I’d love to see — not that New Japan needs another tag title but a New Japan STRONG tag title. If it truly stays the way it is, the world is, you know, it’s probably something that’s gonna have to be discussed at some point. So why not have an Openweight and why not have somebody like Roppongi Vice be involved. I think that’d be sick and I think the fans would really love it.
Romero has made it a point that he wants to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title as himself. He previously won it as the Tiger Mask character. Rocky doesn’t want to have the pressure of retiring on his mind if he doesn’t win the title by a certain age but feels that is something he should consider.
I would like to be that [similar to Hiroshi Tanahashi always proving people wrong as he ages]. Or not — at least like find my little story within that and kind of use that as some kind of inspiration. So I’ve kind of put the pressure on myself like, ‘Do it before 40’ [win the IWGP Junior Title]. I don’t know what the stakes are because I don’t wanna say, ‘Oh, I’m gonna retire at 40’ but maybe it’s something I should think about to really put the pressure on or at least it’s something I should have a real serious conversation about because [it’s] fun to do it but if you still can’t do it in certain ways, like it’s hard for me to find the motivation after wrestling for so long, you know? It really is so if I’m not gonna do it at a top level then maybe I shouldn’t be doing it.
In 2017, Rocky Romero re-introduced SHO and YOH to New Japan Pro-Wrestling as Roppongi 3K. The duo has since split up and have gone their separate ways. Rocky said SHO and YOH had been stagnant for so long.
It’s a mixed bag of feelings because I feel like they [SHO & YOH] were stagnant for so long, you know? And there’s only so much that I feel they could do more in that division. I mean I’ve felt that way in the past plenty of times but I usually just got a new partner. Something happened where I just ended up getting a new partner so like at least it was like a bit of a restart. But especially kind of where the world is right now, I could see the frustration building and as a performer, as a wrestler that, you know — what stories are left to tell when you’ve already done it all at this point? So, I don’t blame SHO in the fact of like, him wanting to move on past that and do something else and keep challenging himself because obviously we know that SHO’s been such a standout in the last two years in singles competition especially. Obviously he’s a great tag team wrestler as well but especially in that singles role so, why not? I mean if you wanna make an impact, sometimes you gotta, you know, turn your knife and knife in the back in your partner’s back I guess. I’ve never done that. I’ve never — well, I think I did that once actually.
Josh Alexander has wrestled on the NJPW STRONG show on several occasions this year. He wrestled Rocky Romero at a taping. Romero sees big things ahead for Alexander and referred to him as the current generation’s Kurt Angle.
Opponents? Josh Alexander is definitely somebody who stands out. I think he’s kind of on the cusp of doing something really big I feel like. Yeah, he does [have an IMPACT World Title match coming up]. That’s gonna be huge! Huge, huge. So, I don’t know. I think he’s kind of like our generation’s Kurt Angle if you — well think about it and not just because he broke his neck and he’s like an amateur wrestler, but he’s just so solid and I think his story is really good that he’s not an overnight sensation. It took him 12 years, 13 years to get to where he’s at just right now and he’s still not even there, right? We still haven’t seen his full potential but he’s obviously a super hard worker, he’s really gifted and I think that there could be big things coming for him and I would like to see him make that trip over to Japan and wrestle all the guys. Imagine him and [Tomohiro] Ishii. I mean there’s so many guys he could wrestle and have really dope matches. Him and [Hirooki] Goto would probably be really sick too, and that’s just a guy that I think that would make that crossover really easily.
** The IInspiration (Jessica McKay & Cassie Lee) chatted with Shakiel Mahjouri of Cageside Seats. Cassie shared that prior to her release from WWE, she asked to go back to NXT and she was told that it was being looked into.
I actually asked to go back [to NXT], and it was kind of, you know — it was being looked into is what I was told and then I got released.
One opportunity that Jessica McKay was looking forward to was possibly working with The Bella Twins in a storyline based around the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles.
I would have loved to — I mean and people know now that there was talks of us feuding with The Bellas when we won the [Women’s Tag Team] Championships. I would have loved to do that. I think that would have put us on a whole different level being able to work with those extraordinary women. So that’s always something that’s bittersweet that it never happened but, just the thought that-that was a possibility, it’s still really cool.
** Mike Riley welcomed Fandango onto his Wrestling Inside The Ropes show. Fandango touched on the formation of Breezango in 2016. He assumes he and Tyler Breeze were on the chopping block prior to being paired together.
[Tyler] Breeze and I, we weren’t really doing too much at the time on TV so I think they were actually making cuts. This was like 2015 or ‘16 and I assume we were probably on the chopping block and Vince [McMahon] didn’t think it was time to get rid of us quite yet so, what do you do when you have two floundering singles guys? You put ‘em together and Road Dogg was a big advocate for us because he was kind of in the same situation I think back in his day where he was a singles guy, put him with Billy [Gunn] obviously and they had a little bit better run than Breezango but he helped us out a lot and he gave us a little life to our careers there in WWE.
While he was with WWE, Fandango enjoyed the company of R-Truth and New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods). He said those four individuals could change the morale of an entire locker room.
A guy like Ronnie/R-Truth or Kofi [Kingston] or anyone in The New Day, you know, you can be on the road for 250, 300 days a year and you’ll run into them after a long European tour and they’re just in a good mood. They’re just good, positive cats and me, sometimes I can be a little negative and just being around Ronnie or Kofi or any of those guys, they’re never in a bad mood and they can change the whole weight of the locker room morale and just uplift everybody because Truth is one of those guys, if you don’t like R-Truth, there’s probably something wrong with you or if he doesn’t like you. He’s such a good guy, you know? And that’s what a good entertainer should do [put a smile on your face]. That’s why he’s had a job for 40 years or I don’t know. He looks like he’s 25 but he’s probably 45 so…
** East Coast Autograph Auctions hosted a virtual signing with AEW official Aubrey Edwards. Aubrey has been with AEW from the start and it is hard for her to envision herself working anywhere else.
It’s a hard question because I don’t want to think of a life that doesn’t have AEW because this is the funnest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve worked at a number of — when I was making games, I worked at four different studios and they all have their various different things but like, a place you work comes down to your bosses, your co-workers and the work you’re doing and Tony Khan is an absolutely wonderful human being, the guy who pays us. He’s legitimately a nice human being. If you’ve ever met him or — he’s the kindest human being in the world. I love all of my co-workers and I love the product that we create so it’s kind of hard for me to think about being somewhere else because all of those things that are important for me to have joy in what I do already exist. So that’s my non-answer to your question.
She broke down AEW’s refereeing system. Paul Turner is the senior official and he assigns the referees to matches. Aubrey said Turner is very fair and whenever there is a new talent in AEW, everyone will get a chance to work with that individual.
No [AEW officials don’t have issues deciding who gets what match]. Paul Turner is our senior referee and he is very fair and he makes assignments typically based on who works with what talent. Like if we have someone new, everyone will get a chance to work with them. I think we all have worked with Christian Cage at this point. Two of us have gotten to work with Sting.
There have been a handful of debuts in AEW since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Aubrey was most shocked to see FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) join the company because of their traditional style of tag team wrestling being opposite from the fast-paced style of AEW’s tag team division. Aubrey added that being in the ring with FTR makes her a better referee and she thinks they’re the best tag team going today.
I think FTR [their debut shocked me the most out of all the debuts during the pandemic]. I think they were the ones I expected the least to show up and because especially their style is very structured and very old school and AEW is a very organic and new school company. I wasn’t necessarily sure how those two styles were gonna mesh and turns out I personally believe FTR is one of the greatest tag teams alive and ever in wrestling. They’re just so damn good. They’re fast, they’re crisp, they’re solid. Their psychology’s amazing. I become a better referee when I work their matches. That’s how good they are.
After Bryan Danielson’s arrival in AEW, Aubrey did have a chance to speak with him about her crying in the front row for his retirement speech in 2016.
That’s the actual first thing we talked about is I said, ‘Hi, my name’s Brittany and do you know of the meme of the girl crying in the front row of your retirement?’ And he said no. I said, ‘Well this is really awkward.’ So, we’ve talked a few times since then.
Edwards jokingly said it is difficult to referee matches involving Rey Fenix because she can’t predict where she’s supposed to be in the ring because of how unpredictable he is.
In that moment, I knew it was gonna be a really good match [Rey Fenix vs. Kenny Omega at New Year’s Smash] and I love Rey Fenix. He’s one of my favorite wrestlers because every time he’s in the ring, he does something different that I haven’t seen before that just defies physics and I don’t understand it, which makes my job really hard because I can’t predict where I’m supposed to go because I don’t know where he’s going to land and I really don’t like getting kicked in the face. Especially by Rey Fenix.
She went on to share a Brodie Jr. story. He was preparing to go out to the ring with Tay Conti for her match. The match order got switched up so when he found out they were next, he ran to the trainer’s room to get his wrists taped.
He’s [Brodie Jr.] the best. He’s the absolute best. My favorite was one time he was managing Tay [Conti’s] match on Dark but the order was changing and he didn’t necessarily know when we were going [out] and I’m reffing her match, she’s sitting there stretching herself and she walks over like, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘We’re about to go out there.’ He goes, ‘What!? Oh my God!’ He runs away to the medical room. He runs over to the medical room. We’re like, ‘What are you doing?’ He goes, ‘I need wrist tape.’ Like, you’re ten and you’re not even wrestling.
Throughout the matches she has refereed in AEW, her new favorite is Shawn Spears versus Sammy Guevara from the Dynamite in Houston, Texas on 8/18.
My new number one is Sammy Guevara versus Shawn Spears in Houston. Sammy had proposed to his girlfriend Pam earlier in the night so in his hometown, already you have the hometown boy, biggest pop of the night, biggest moment of his life and I love working with Shawn Spears. He’s very good. He has a great understanding of psychology, great understanding of how a heel can use the referee so the three of us just put on a banger and there’s a lot of times in a match, I’m sitting there reffing it and I’m not enjoying it because I’m so focused on making sure the right things are happening but this one I’m just like, ‘Yeah, this is awesome. This is so cool’ and I’m just enjoying it in the moment so, for me it was just like it was a fun match, a fun moment and it was an important day in a friend’s life. It was a good one.
** At AEW Rampage Grand Slam, CM Punk scored a win over Powerhouse Hobbs. Hobbs is someone that Punk had been looking forward to sharing the ring with for quite some time and during Punk’s appearance on the AEW Unrestricted podcast, he dove into why he wanted to work with Hobbs and talked about being impressed by the Team Taz member.
We’ll peel back the curtain a little bit here which it is what it is. I think I need to show a very — just different looks, right? I didn’t dream in my wildest imagination I could be this big of a babyface so to speak. But it’s pretty crazy and I think we need to ride the wave and I never liked baby-baby matches. I always felt like somebody needs to be the heel a little bit and I don’t have any of that. With Will Hobbs, I got a guy that’s gonna knock my dick in the dirt and I’m gonna get to sell. I just hope there’s some kids in the back watching that go, ‘Oh wow. It’s cool to sell’, you know? Because I just think of Ricky Steamboat, one of the best sellers of all-time and just the way he — it was an art and really trying to make some simplistic stuff and get the most out of very little and I’ve been impressed with Will Hobbs. You know, the way he moves and I think anybody can see that he has potential, you know?
Since returning to wrestling, Punk has done several dives into the crowd during his entrance. He mentioned that security has talked to him about that and they lean towards trying to tell him not to do it.
Yeah, they’ve talked to me about it [jumping into the crowd]. They lean towards trying to tell me not to do it, but they’re also kind of like, ‘Is this gonna be a thing? Can we maybe not?’ And I go, ‘Guys, I really — I don’t know. I just go out there’ and the last time I did it in New Jersey, there was a dude who was just like, ‘I’m gonna catch you’ and I was like, ‘Okay. Let’s do the [dive]’, so I did it. It’s all spur of the moment. It really is honestly.
Prior to leaving Ring of Honor, there was an idea being discussed to pair Punk and Bryan Danielson together for a tag run. That was something they were both interested in and if Punk had to choose a partner to go on a run with now, he would choose Danielson.
I think there’s a lot of good answers to that question [who Punk would like to go after the AEW Tag Titles with] but selfishly I want to tag with Bryan Danielson. I don’t know if anybody’s ever spoken about this before but before I left Ring of Honor for WWE, we were, ‘What’s next for CM Punk?’ After winning the title and all that stuff and there was a thing that we were kicking around with maybe me and the ole American Dragon tagging up and just black boots, black trunks and just kind of like a [Nick] Bockwinkel, [Ray] Stevens for like a new era and of course we were both like, ‘Yeah. That sounds like something we could really sink our teeth into’ so I still think there’s potential to do that.
Elsewhere during the conversation, Punk talked about when he first started tuning into AEW. He kept up with it since the early stages. He did not watch every show live, but he’d record some shows and catch it when he could.
I mean I would miss shows here and there because I wouldn’t — I’d be busy doing other stuff but, I recorded it on the DVR and if I was home on a Wednesday, I would watch it and then definitely social media really kind of helps you keep informed with the goings on of things so I would for sure keep with it that way. I watch it religiously now.
** WWE Champion Big E spoke to Daily Star for an interview. Looking back to the beginning of his singles push, getting the world title was not the plan from his understanding.
This was not the plan that I’d heard. I’m trying to remember what I was alluding to – [it was] maybe the Intercontinental Championship which was kind of in the works for a bit. But I had heard talks years ago about maybe putting the title on me – or possibly becoming a world champion – multiple times, but that kind of came and went every time. It’s kind of hard to fathom getting here, but in many ways it’s not. So many of my peers had been so kind, and so many people over the years had said, ‘Yeah, this is something that you’re ready for’ or ‘that you deserve these opportunities.’ I guess over time I kind of thought, ‘Yeah, I guess I am!’
Big E has been a part of WWE since 2009. He feels that he could make the argument that he got the world title later than he could’ve or should’ve but nonetheless, he is grateful that he’s had the time to grow in and out of the ring to be ready for this run.
It has all been very rewarding these last couple of weeks or so. I still, in many ways, think of myself as a failed football player who stumbled into this job. But that was 12 years ago, and I know what I’m doing and have been to grow a lot as a performer. I think sometimes people get that rocket, that push, too soon. I could argue that I got it later than I could’ve or should’ve, but I am grateful for the time that I got to grow in the ring and outside the ring. I feel abundantly ready for whatever comes.
** Corey Graves and Vic Joseph welcomed Riddle onto WWE After The Bell. When he first came to the main roster from NXT, Riddle said there were people who didn’t ‘get’ him and Vince McMahon was one of those people. McMahon thought Riddle was a “goof” and here’s how Riddle responded to that:
And at first, they didn’t get it [how he is as a person]. Nobody got it, Vince [McMahon] didn’t get it. He was like, ‘You’re a goof’ and I went, ‘Well I’m a goof that can kick your ass dude.’ I know I’m goofy but like, when I get in that ring, I turn it up and at first he didn’t see it but now I think they see the in-ring ability with the entertainment side of it.
Riddle has spoken at length about how some of his trash talk about other talents can rub people the wrong way. He said the office doesn’t mind it but there are some talents who are not fans of it. Riddle said he does not want to make anyone upset.
You know, I think my biggest problem is I talk a little too much trash, you know? And it gets me — I wouldn’t say it gets me in trouble but it definitely gets me a stern look. Funny enough, the office doesn’t really have a problem with it. They think it’s funny and people are talking and it develops drama and this and that. I would say it’s — I hate the fact that I rub people the wrong way because that is not my intention. I just talk trash. It’s why I fought in the UFC. I talk too much trash, got in too many fights and that’s why I wrestle. I like fighting people, I like to talk trash. That’s what we get paid lots of money to do so… and make people care about it, you know? So when I do talk trash, I tend to say things that, you know, people are, ‘Oh no. He just said that.’ It’s normal to give them that reaction but at the end of the day, I feel like, especially representing WWE and being a part of a bigger, bigger thing and not just representing myself as an independent out on the independent scene. I had to think globally, not locally. So I gotta think about top guys when I start talking trash especially if I’m not in storylines with them or anything like that because it does rub them the wrong way and I can say that for a fact. People aren’t happy. But for the most part, when people get to know me — the same thing with Randy [Orton]. Randy, before he knew me, didn’t like me but once Randy got to know me, he likes me. I’m pretty sure Goldberg [does]. He gave me a hug the other day at SummerSlam. There was a time when that guy wanted to rip my head off and you earn a certain level of respect and I think that’s what I have to do with some of the other people I’ve talked some trash about and hopefully I can, you know, turn them into believers and I just, you know, I don’t wanna make anybody upset. That’s all I’m saying.
** The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) were interviewed by Metro. The former WWE Tag Team Champions heaped praise onto the duo known as Cryme Tyme (JTG & Shad Gaspard). The two pairs crossed paths at WrestleMania in 2019 and JTG and Shad told Ford and Dawkins that they were a dream match for them.
Dawkins: They were the cornerstone. They crawled so we could walk, they walked so we could run. But nah, JTG and Shad were cool. We met them at WrestleMania in New York, we finally met them there. They were cool, they gave us a lot of advice and basically told us to keep doing what we doing and they told us straight up that we were one of the dream matches. I was like, ‘Hey, whenever y’all want the smoke, let me know fam!’
Shad unfortunately passed away last year. Ford said just hearing that Shad and JTG wanted to share the ring with them is a blessing all on its own.
Ford: We may not have the time here to have that dream match, but I’m pretty sure we’ll all get to it eventually on the other side. I remember that very bittersweet moment at the time ’cause we didn’t know [that] was the last time we’d see Big G. Just looking back on that, I didn’t even realize how much more special that was, and motivating too. Like Dawks said, having those cornerstones as a young tag team watching wrestling, it would’ve come full circle. For them to tell us, we’re a dream match they want after we watched them growing up, that’s a blessing and a gift in itself.
** East Coast Autograph Auctions hosted a virtual signing with Dasha Gonzalez. She last wrestled for AEW in the summer of 2020 and said she’d be game to wrestle for the company again.
I’m always down for it [another match in AEW], except I’m not the booker so, it just depends if they’re ready for it.
Dasha reflected on Ruby Soho’s AEW debut. She expressed how happy she was for Ruby and brought up that they worked together in WWE. Dasha shared that Ruby was concerned that the people in attendance would not react to her.
I really enjoyed the Casino Battle Royale [at AEW All Out] because… Ruby Soho! Making her debut. Somebody I’ve also known for quite some time so it was pretty cool to finally see her getting much — a long anticipated recognition that she deserves. I’ve trained in the ring with her before and I’ve known her for a really long time. She’s an amazing person so I was just happy to see her make her debut to the world because she was so nervous backstage and it was great that she actually received such a warm welcoming. So worth it. So worth it, because I didn’t wanna ask — myself didn’t even know that she signed with AEW until she officially was there in the back and I didn’t want to text her and ask her and put her on the spot because that’s just not cool and it was really, really, really exciting because she was, ‘What if people don’t react, you know?’ I’m like, ‘Girl, they are gonna react.’
** To promote the Free The Narrative II event, EC3 sat down with Fightful for an interview. He recalled talking to Adam Scherr (Braun Strowman) one day before his release from WWE and Scherr rolling out ideas of what he’d be able to do if he got the chance to be himself in a wrestling setting.
He just started flowing ideas about, ‘If this ever happened, what I would do in it and if I ever had the chance to be myself, here’s who I would become’ and it was all heartwarming, especially considering the size and strength of this man, to see him have true emotions of reality, to see him taken aback. Then, the next day, he was released.
** JONAH, the former ‘Bronson Reed’ talked to Sportskeeda about some of the names he was looking forward to sharing the ring with at WWE before his release. One of those names was Samoa Joe. Reed thinks the match was probably something that was being looked at for later down the line.
I am always watching wrestling, so I’m looking out for opponents. There were obviously a few in WWE that I really wanted to work with. Samoa Joe probably being the biggest one of them, which was probably on the books but didn’t happen.
** Sasha Banks versus Bianca Belair is official for tonight’s SmackDown. Banks and Belair are going to be a part of a Triple-Threat at the Crown Jewel event where they will meet Becky Lynch for the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
** National Openweight Champion Hammerstone spoke to Darren Paltrowitz ahead of MLW Fightland.
** Minoru Suzuki appeared on Highspots’ Virtual Gimmick Table show.
** Game Changer Wrestling releaseda a countdown special for Jon Moxley and Nick Gage’s GCW World Title match on October 9th:
** It was announced that Nikki Bella is going to be a going to be a judge for ‘America’s Got Talent: Extreme’.
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.