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.
** During Ronda Rousey’s latest Facebook gaming stream, she shared that she tore her labial frenulum, which is the thin piece of tissue in the mouth that connects the gums to the upper lip. Rousey stressed that she is fine. As she was recording, she mentioned that she had not been feeling well due to exhaustion.
Oh, I’m totally fantastic, fine. I tore my labial frenulum apparently, which is that little piece of skin that connects your lip to your jaw or whatever, my top jaw. I’m like so sick and not feeling good right now. Sorry guys if I sound like crap. I’ve literally sounded like this all day.
So tired, Po [Rousey & Travis Browne’s child] was so fussy on the plane on the way back and just, you know, SmackDown was a very physical day. I’m sore, I’m sick, I’m tired.
The WrestleMania match card was discussed and Rousey said she’s excited about the possibility of Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes interacting.
Or the possibility of Seth [Rollins] and Cody [Rhodes]. I’m excited about the possibility. I never got to see Cody wrestle live. He left right before I got there.
** While speaking to CIProud.com, WWE’s Natalya looked back on the 2019 Hall of Fame ceremony when she and Bret Hart were tackled to the ground by an individual in attendance. She said both she and Bret showed resiliency in that moment by continuing their speeches after the situation calmed down.
Really scary. Really, really scary actually [Bret Hart being tackled at the 2019 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony] because my uncle was starting to speak about my dad and I know that my dad meant so much to my uncle. You know, they were best friends and my dad wasn’t there to speak or accept the award so when you’re honoring somebody’s life after they’re gone, it’s very emotional and for us, we were just trying to honor my dad’s life and give him a really, incredible send-off and make sure that his memory was really honored and it just caught us off guard but you know, just like WWE and I say this with complete just conviction that just like our fans in WWE, just in WWE, just like the superstars, the company, the WWE is resilient and we were resilient. Bret and I got knocked down, we got right back up and we kept going.
** In March 2020, Rezar of the Authors of Pain was sidelined with a torn bicep. He and Akam recently sat down with Renee Paquette to record an episode of ‘The Sessions’ and said their heart is still in wrestling.
Rezar was able to rehab his bicep injury in under four months and when he approached WWE about being ready to return, he claims that he and Akam were cut off. He added that at one point, the two parties shook hands and agreed to present something big, but WWE did not follow through on what they promised.
Rezar: Our heart is still in wrestling and coming back this way, we love it a lot. But of course, if everything would have happened, everything would have went well with WWE, we saw ourselves still wrestling for WWE, right? I came back after hurting my bicep. I rehabbed it after three-and-a-half months. Like in 14 weeks, I rehabbed a full-torn bicep and it was a double incision [into the bicep], the work [that they did]. Usually, that’s eight months of rehab. I did it in three-and-a-half months and I went back actually to the WWE office and I told them I’m ready to go again and they just cut us off, they said ‘no’ and that’s when we said, ‘What do you mean?’ I’m just gonna say it here. We shook hands on something pretty big and they didn’t wanna follow it up anymore after I got hurt and the pandemic started. So that’s also one of the reasons why me and Sunny [Akam] said, ‘Hey, we’re gonna go home.’ But we decided together, we’re gonna go home and do our things because we’re people that if you make a promise and you shake hands, you have to act on it and you have to f*cking come to your promises and once we feel like somebody doesn’t do that, we cut you off right away. That’s how we are and we shook hands, like, I don’t know, with a former — somebody in the house. You [Renee Paquette] probably know him. That guy got let go but, yeah, we went through some sh*t with him, right? He made a lot of promises to us and they didn’t deliver. We just felt like hey, we’re gonna go home and we’re done man.
The duo were with WWE from 2016 to 2020. Rezar talked about the sacrifices they made to come to WWE and giving up their respective careers they were successful in to come and give wrestling a shot. Rezar said he was making more money from MMA sponsorship deals at 17-years-old than he was while at the Performance Center.
Rezar: Like Sunny [Akam] said, we come from different backgrounds and everybody looked at us like we’re just there to steal money, right? Like you’re there, here in WWE just for the money. ‘You’re not a wrestler. We have been wrestling for ten years on the indies, bingo halls. We’ve been giving our whole bodies. You guys are just here to make money.’ People don’t know because we didn’t complain about it, because we can take a lot of sh*t. Yeah, we can take a lot of sh*t. Of course I respected people who did their thing in wrestling before WWE, on the indies. But we come from backgrounds where wrestling just isn’t that big. You grow up in a wrestling family, I grew up in a fine Boxing family. So I actually became a professional MMA fighter at 17. People just don’t know how much we left behind to go actually sign with WWE and go wrestle for WWE, go to the Performance Center. I never even told anybody in the Netherlands what we went through in the Performance Center. People thought we were getting paid like hundreds of thousands of dollars just being in the Performance Center. I made more money at 17 from MMA sponsorship deals than I did in the WWE Performance Center. I left money behind, I left my family behind just because it was an exciting adventure. I thought it was an exciting adventure for me to go to WWE, right? And we really stuck [it] out there just because we were together. Like if we weren’t there together, man I think I couldn’t do it. I think I would have left a long time ago.
The formation of Authors of Pain was discussed by Akam, who credited Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque for their on-screen pairing. Akam feels that if Rezar hadn’t come along, he would have left WWE a long time ago.
Akam: I believe it was all Hunter’s idea. I was at the Performance Center about four-to-five months before Zim [Rezar] was and then as soon as he came in, I looked at him like, ‘Man, he looks just like me’ and this was before they even said, ‘Hey, [you’re] gonna be a tag team.’ We just started hanging out together, like every day, because I didn’t have any family there, he barely knew English. I understood every word he said, you know? Where normal people, they’d look at him and go, ‘What did he say?’ And everyone called him ‘Gizim’. I think I was the only one who said, ‘His actual name is Gzim guys. Come on’ and we connected and further on, we got an apartment together, we started living together. I honestly — I’ll say this on record, I wouldn’t be able to do it if Zim wasn’t there. I would’ve left a long time ago and I would have said, ‘Hey man, it’s all right, it’s all good but I’m going back home.’
When Rezar was doing his tryout, he was initially supposed to be signed alongside his real-life brother Egzon Selmani, who has pro fighting experience. Rezar’s brother was not interested in joining WWE.
Rezar: They all stood behind the camera and checked the little camera screen and I just gave my most aggressive look in the camera for ten seconds [during promo class in front of William Regal & Sami Zayn]. I started sweating instantly from shaking my head that much. My blood pressure probably went up to 200 during that moment and William Regal said, ‘That face is gonna sell out arenas. We want you to come to Orlando, Florida’ and he said, ‘We wanna sign your brother too’ and my brother [Egzon Selmani] obviously didn’t end up signing because he wanted to stay in the Netherlands. He had more things going on there with companies and I ended up signing and that’s how we met, me and Sunny. So when I flew out, usually you get drawn in with a group of guys. I went by myself. They wanted me in the Performance Center as soon as possible. First week, they gave me a chair to sit down alone, watch all the trainings and a week after, we started training.
Elsewhere during the conversation, Rezar recounted the fallout from his MMA fight against Serbian fighter Mario Milosavljevic for Bosnia Fight Championship. Rezar hails from Yugoslavia and during the 1990s, Yugoslavia was at war and Serbia was a part of said war. Rezar had been warned to not do anything to incite the crowd, but he ended up choking out his opponent in the fight and taunted him afterwards.
This led to items being thrown in the ring and Rezar had to be escorted out of the venue. He was later told that it was not safe for him to be in the public eye and there were no immediate flights to the Netherlands available at the time. Rezar, his brother, father and coach ended up making a 30-hour drive to get to their destination.
Rezar: Well, you have to hear a little bit of backstory. I’m from Kosovo [Yugoslavia] and we were in a war like in 1994 ‘till 1998. We were in a war with Serbia and I fought — I had a fight in Bosnia on the border of Serbia so actually it’s Serbia, and a lot of people called me crazy [for] going there to fight. But at that time, I was 17-years-old, was crazy, right? I didn’t care. I just wanted to fight and I go there and I thought I had to fight somebody, I don’t know. I think he was from Romania or something. He hopped out last second. He got injured or something, so they said, ‘Just come to the press conference the day prior and hang out there, talk a little bit, you know? Get your name out there.’ So I went to this conference and they tell me that my fight got canceled. All of a sudden, this Serbian guy, Mario Milosavljevic, he stands up, he says, ‘I wanna fight this boy.’ Like everybody goes quiet. Like, ‘This is gonna work. You already have a fight planned.’ He said, ‘No, I wanna fight him.’ I said, ‘Well I wanna fight you if you wanna fight me.’ ‘All right, let’s go. Let’s go tomorrow.’ The next day, at weigh-ins, we weigh in, stare down, like 20 people around us so nobody [gets in a] fight and it was actually the first time in history an Albanian versus a Serbian in that promotion, B.F.C. [Bosnia Fight Championship] and they were already scared. They were telling me, ‘Do the match, don’t do anything crazy and get the hell out of the arena and just go to the hotel. If we tell you’re good at the hotel, go to the airport or go back to Albania,’ right? Across the border. So, I do the fight, I choked him out standing. Like I actually lifted him up by his head from the ground. He was two feet completely off the mat. He got choked out. He was completely unconscious and I made this joke a day prior to my brother. I said, ‘If I knock him out or choke him out in the first round, I’m gonna do the Tito Ortiz. I’m gonna bury him, gonna drag his body and cover him up with sand’ and my brother said, ‘If you do that, you’re gonna cause a ruckus. This is gonna be crazy.’ I didn’t even plan to do it really, but it just went automatically. All the adrenaline from choking him out within like 12, 13 seconds. I choked him out, I started burying. I see chairs flying, I see glass, bottles flying. I see just a complete, complete ruckus and the promoter’s actually like telling us, ‘All hell is breaking loose guys. What the f*ck? What did you do?’ So all the security guards come, all the police officers come and they actually already called the S.W.A.T. team just for the ruckus going on. The whole show got stopped for like an hour-and-a-half. I was the co-main event. The main event had to wait an hour-and-a-half before everybody was back seated down. Half of the arena had left. We got escorted by police to the hotel and they said, ‘When is your flight?’ I said, ‘Next morning.’ He said, ‘No. You can’t wait.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘You can’t wait. You gotta leave right now, because we’re not in charge for your security. If you go to the street, you’re done, you’re dead.’ I was there with my dad and my brother and with my coach. We’re the four of us. They said, ‘If you go to the street, we’re telling you, you’re dead. If you want, we can escort you to the airport or to the border’ and I said, ‘Well, what do you want me to do? There’s no flights to the Netherlands’ and we just hopped in a car and started driving back to the Netherlands and took I think like a 30 hour drive back to the Netherlands and we just drove. I made history. I got on more than I think 100 news channels all over Yugoslavia and everywhere. It was one of the biggest news.
He received threats stemming from the incident. Rezar went on to state that he respects everyone, including his opponent that night. He has not competed in the octagon since 2014 and when asked if there’s interest in returning, he expressed that he and Akam’s venture into the metaverse is their focus. They do want to continue wrestling.
Rezar: Oh, definitely [I received threats after that MMA incident]. Even just in the Netherlands from Serbian people. Obviously, for me, war is always out of our hands. So I have nothing to do with war. I respect everybody, it doesn’t matter where they come from, right? I’m in Kosovo right now, I respect everybody. But, it’s entertainment, I’m an entertainer and I like to test the limits of people and yeah, I just did what I did. I got escorted out. I still respect everybody. I respected the guy so I shook his hand and I gave him a little slap behind the head like, good job and that was it.
For now, we’re too busy with our project [for me to get back into the octagon]. We [Rezar & Akam] could have gone back to our roots. I could have gone into the metaverse as an MMA fighter as well, but even MMA for me doesn’t feel bigger than real life. I love wrestling, we both love wrestling obviously. We’ve done it for six-and-a-half years in the States and we really love it so, we wanna continue wrestling for now and see how the future goes.
** The reigning DDT Pro Wrestling Universal Champion MAO is scheduled to defend his title against AEW’s Michael Nakazawa on 3/27. During a press conference, Nakazawa proposed that if MAO gave him a title match and retained, then The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega would come out after the match. When the contract was signed, Nakazawa took his word back and said the following:
I’m not only a mismatch with AEW, but also with the elite of The Elite. No one cares about me, and if I lose, no one will come out.
I’ll tell you the real reason why I’m challenging for the belt. Look, I’m a miser in AEW. Furthermore, I have no allies except Kenny [Omega]. And Kenny is currently sidelined with an injury… so my [wrestling] life is hanging by a thread. If I bring home this belt, maybe I can prolong my [wrestling] life a little… that’s what I’m trying to do. Until then, goodbye and good night, until I win the belt in Korakuen.
** The Undertaker was the most recent guest on the True Geordie Podcast. He looked back on the formation of the ‘American Badass’ character. Undertaker thinks he would have survived if he did not take a break and refresh his character but added that he would not have thrived.
So the American Badass, several things were going on there. One, yeah, I got hurt. I injured my groin and right close to coming back from my groin injury, I tore a pec, so I was out most of that whole year leading into the American Badass. But what was going on was the Attitude Era. You know, you’ve got Stone Cold who’s cutting these incredible promos that people can really identify with, right? I mean it’s like real life with a little bit of gas behind it. You got The Rock cutting these unbelievable promos. All these promos are just — they are so good. I think — I would have survived but I wouldn’t have thrived if I would not have taken a break and took — as good as the character is, you’re kind of boxed in too, with what you can do and what you can’t do. You know, it’s hard for The Undertaker to be in the ring while The Rock is talking about poontang pie, you know what I mean? And that had some type of retort that The Undertaker could give. So, one, it was a period for me to just take a deep breath and do something different for a minute.
Before Brock Lesnar departed WWE in 2004, Undertaker had a conversation with him and told him he should do what’s best for him. Undertaker said he understands that one cannot live with ‘what ifs’ and did not have an issue with Lesnar leaving the company.
I really haven’t told this story very often. He [Brock Lesnar] was thinking about going to play pro football and I was like, ‘Brock,’ I was like, ‘Look, you gotta do what’s right for Brock, you know?’ Everyone’s gonna be pissed that you’re gonna leave. They’ve put all this money and this push behind you but, if you don’t go do this, you’re gonna look back one day with the what ifs,’ right? And I don’t know how much influence it had. He did end up leaving. He tried football, didn’t work. He ends up in the UFC. But I didn’t hold any grudge for — I always in the back of my mind felt like he would be back some day. You know, it’s just usually the way it works out. But I do know you can’t live with what ifs. It’ll eat you up, right? So, you know, I didn’t have a problem. I didn’t have the biggest problem as most people did with it.
** IMPACT Wrestling’s Savannah Evans joined Tommy Dreamer on his House of Hardcore podcast. Up until she was offered an IMPACT contract, Savannah had been working on a handshake deal. She discussed signing with the company and what it means to her.
And it [IMPACT Wrestling contract offer] was literally made less than an hour before you [Tommy Dreamer] texted me. I thought you knew and then you were just like, ‘Congratulations.’ Like cool, but yeah, just when I think I had a favorite moment already with IMPACT, it just keeps — the list keeps adding on. Obviously, being offered a contract is huge, you know what I mean? And for me, a lot of people are like, oh, well you made it, you got offered a contract but for me, it’s like no, now is the time to start really rolling because I have more to prove because I’m — you know what I mean? You offered a contract.
In October of 2020, Evans had a tryout with WWE at the venue that the company filmed television in prior to the ThunderDome. She described her experience at the tryout and credited former EVOLVE owner Gabe Sapolsky for putting in a word for her.
So I definitely met you [Tommy Dreamer] before I had any WWE tryout. I had a tryout in the middle of the pandemic. It was October 2020 and I think I met you a couple years before that.
That’s what I was thinking too [the early stages of the pandemic is weird time to get a tryout]. So, 2017 if we can go back further, I did my first extra work with WWE and I wanna say during that year, I did three different loops with them. You know, they never used me for any type of extra matches because I’m a lot larger than the extra girls and they wanna pick a smaller girl usually. But I did a couple of the No Way Jose conga lines. If people look back, I’m doing that and then I think I did maybe one other extra spot in 2019 and I think I just kind of kept refreshing my information in their system and then I wanna say it was Gabe [Sapolsky], Gabe from EVOLVE, I think he put a word in. Like, hey, this is a girl I think you guys should look at. He contacted me to let me know that he gave them my information and then October 2020, they let me know that — well, a couple months prior, they let me know they were doing the tryout and I was just like in the wildest time where for some people, their whole lives were shutting down, they couldn’t do anything, they couldn’t go to work, I was getting this opportunity so it was just… it was real wild for me that-that was the time when my tryout came, you know what I mean? When training wasn’t open, so I hadn’t been in the ring for a little bit and the gyms were closed so I was just working out outside. So it was just an odd time for me to be getting this opportunity but I just, you know, I just went full force forward.
So, this tryout was unique, not just only that it was during the pandemic, it was an all-female tryout. It was an all-girl tryout so, and we didn’t have it at the regular PC. They had it at the backup P.C. so it was just basically two rings in a room and a smaller office off to the side. So I wanna say there was about nine, maybe eight or nine of us so we did, we were able to get in the ring. We had to have our masks on when we were in the ring. You know, the coaches were there, they drilled us on conditioning, cardio stuff and they just wanted to see how well we moved, how well we took instructions. We did some… we did rolls, we did cardio and then we were able to do promos at the end too.
Evans was not informed about why she was not hired by WWE but was told that they did not have anything for her and she was welcome to partake in future tryouts.
They didn’t [WWE did not specifically say why she was not hired after the tryout]. They just said that they didn’t have anything for me at the moment and that I’m welcome to come back and have another tryout, which doesn’t — like you [Tommy Dreamer] said, it doesn’t pinpoint anything. It just leaves it very open of, okay, they didn’t want me right now. I don’t know why, but they didn’t.
** Aubrey Edwards and Tony Schiavone welcomed Captain Shawn Dean onto the AEW Unrestricted podcast. Shawn helps facilitate talents through AEW’s Dark and Dark: Elevation shows. He spoke about spotlighting Daniel Garcia and Skye Blue and being impressed with what they had to offer in the ring.
If I had to go male and female wise that I had a hand in bringing into [AEW] would probably be Daniel Garcia. He’s killing it right now. He’s a guy — he actually came in before I had took the job but once I got in and started doing it, he was one of the people who I definitely wanted to bring back because he impressed me and a lot of stuff that he did, some of the matches that he had, his intensity, his ring awareness, just his technical prowess, everything he did, I feel like he had — he got potential to be something big in the industry in a few years if not now. As you just saw, he won Battle of Los Angeles. He’s really killing it so Garcia’s somebody who I really admire as far as one of the people I brought in and somebody who I think in a couple of years is gonna be really good is Skye Blue. She’s also a Chicago native so, I really, really like her. That’s somebody who when I see her backstage, we have this thing when we see each other, we just go, ‘Boo!’ Like try to scare each other. Just so simple, so stupid but, you always just see us backstage and that’s one of the things we do so, Skye Blue, a hometown girl here in Chicago and is just somebody who I’m very proud of that I was able to give an opportunity to and really proud that she’s doing what she’s doing right now.
** Tom Fleming, former WWE/F artist and designer was a guest on the ‘New Generation Declassified’ show. Fleming worked for WWF from 1990 until 1994 and mentioned that his departure occurred when there were several scandals hovering over the company. He noticed freelance artists being cut and recounted being informed about his job status. The last costume he worked on as a full-timer was for ‘Sparky Plugg’ Bob Holly.
Well, it was kind of a slow exit [from WWF/E]. Let’s see, back — I guess around ‘94, when the scandals, when Vince [McMahon] really started getting hit heavy with the ring boy and tax evasion. There was some steroid stuff. There was a lot of scandals going on and a lot of it was Joe Weider, basically being big dog when Vince tried to step on — kind of tried to step on his turf with the bodybuilding stuff. I watched every freelance artist in the company [get] laid off and I was the last one in the company and my boss was just doing her very best to keep me on and then I remember her coming to me with tears in her eyes and she was like, ‘It’s — this is it. We gotta let you go. I have a couple of assignments that I want you work on as a freelancer, but not in-house. We have to take your electronic pass that got you in the building.’ They had to take that. I worked from home and the last costume that I ever designed was the ‘Sparky Plugg’ Bob Holly costume.
He worked with WWF/E the following year as a freelancer. He was contacted again in 2002 and helped create the Team Angle sweat suits along with putting together the costume concept for Terry Bollea’s ‘Mr. America’ character and Kane’s early 2000s presentation.
And then, in ‘95, a few months later [after being let go by WWF/E], my buddy Mike Foley, the Art Director who’s sitting on the couch in the Royal Rumble painting, he called me and he said, ‘Listen man, we just got the greenlight to start using freelancers again. How would you like [to be] doing some iconic illustrations for the merchandise catalog of some of the big names?’ And so I was working — by this time, I moved from Connecticut to North Carolina so I was working out of my studio in North Carolina on those paintings you see on my website of Undertaker, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Bam Bam [Bigelow], there’s a bunch of ‘em and I was working strictly freelance and that lasted — that lasted a couple — maybe ‘95, ‘96-ish, then I had a period of time when I did not do any work for them and then in 2002, my creative director re-contacted me and said, ‘How would you like to work on some more new concepts? New costume concepts?’ And they hired me to do Team Angle’s sweat suits, design the costume for Mr. America, the Hulk Hogan gimmick and the biggest, Kane’s new costume. So yeah, in 2002, it turns out, instead of me creating the characters, they were hiring me to redesign some big names which was a whole different thing for me.
Fleming designed the 1994 Royal Rumble poster and shared that the people who are sitting on the couch in the painting are his wife, a kid who lived next door to him at the time and a former WWF/E Art Director.
They [WWE/F] basically said, do your thing [with the 1994 Royal Rumble poster]. In this one, they gave me a lot of creative room just to kind of play around with the composition and stuff so of course the giant TV with all the wrestlers kind of pouring out of it and then the people on the couch, funny enough is my wife, the kid next door, my brother in-law’s best friend at the time and Mike Foley, who’s one of the Art Directors at the WWF. Those are the three people in the [shot].
She [Fleming’s wife] does not like being photographed, things like that but I was like, you know what? It was in a pinch. Of course, the deadline’s always tight so, you know, she was a good sport about it and it went just fine but yeah, it’s one of the very few illustrations that she actually agreed to participate in.
** Edge returned to ‘Steven’s Wrestling Journey’ for a catch-up interview. Edge shared that he and Beth Phoenix are interested in writing a children’s book and they’ve already started jotting things down.
I don’t know if it’s special but I love to draw. I love illustrating and I love writing. [At] some point, I wanna do a children’s book and… yeah, I wanna release a children’s book and Beth [Phoenix] wants to as well so we might… we might partner up. We’ve written some stuff already so, and Beth can also draw as well so, between the two of us, I think at some point, we’ll release a children’s book.
I think we got an idea. Yeah, it’ll definitely be a kids book. That’s always kind of been a bucket list thing of mine too so, and I know it has been for Beth as well so, that’s one thing I think I’d like to do that maybe a lot of people don’t know.
** Per PWInsider, USA Network will carry the entire WrestleMania 38 Saturday Kickoff show.
** Prior to both nights of WrestleMania 38 kicking off in-ring, DJ Valentino Khan will be performing. He also performed at SummerSlam 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
** Thunder Rosa documented her AEW Women’s World Title victory and the lead-up to it.
** Stephanie McMahon and Snoop Dogg were named to FaZe Clan’s Board of Directors.
** The Hardys (Matt & Jeff Hardy) pushed out the following promo to hype their match against nZo and W. Morrissey at the 3/27 Northeast Wrestling event:
** Inside The Ropes published the written version of their interview with Rocky Romero.
** PinkNews pushed out their chat with Charlie Morgan and Jetta.
** March 22nd birthdays: Raj Singh.
** The Juice Pro Wrestling podcast welcomed Janai Kai onto the show.
** The Renegade Twins (Robyn & Charlette Renegade) appeared on Thunder Rosa’s vlog.
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.