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.
** At the 2022 Wells Fargo TMT Summit, WWE co-CEOs Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan were present on behalf of the company. They were the focus of a panel and during the conversation, McMahon spoke about Bray Wyatt’s return to WWE. She dove into ‘The White Rabbit Project’ and hiring writer Rob Fee to plot out ways to get viewers engaged such as releasing Q.R. codes.
McMahon: When you think about the changes that he’s [Paul Levesque] made, the talent that he’s brought back, but not only just bringing back stars but how he’s doing that. But for example, we were bringing back one of our biggest stars named Bray Wyatt whose character is a little bit of a cult-type leader and we used a multimedia approach and hired a horror writer [Rob Fee] to come in and really help us craft this narrative so that our fans were engaged. We started doing Q.R. codes randomly in the background. Like if a Q.R. code just popped up behind us and you guys clicked on it, it took you to a link — there is no Q.R. code — but it took you to a link where there was a hangman game and then you saw this white rabbit show up. It’s what we call The White Rabbit Project. But anyway, there were interactive games, there were different misleads. We even had one puzzle that if you figured it out, it was coordinates to a record store in a place called Corbin, Kentucky which was called White Rabbit Records and it happened to be that the people at the White Rabbit Records store played along because our fans would call and they would be like, ‘What’s going on? Is someone returning? What’s happening with WWE?’ And they would use some of the language that we were using in the campaign and hang up the phone and fans were so engaged and we found that when we drove people to particular events, one of the codes drove us to a date and that date happened to be the SmackDown that was happening… It could have been a date or a timecode so September 23rd or it was 9:23 and at 9:23, we saw our viewership increase on SmackDown, 20 percent over that time period. It was a much [more] specific moment but around that time period. But it’s strategies like that-that really do work because the audience today is different, they’re growing, evolving. Some people wanna have a lean-back experience and that’s great but a lot of people really wanna engage deeply and have fun and have misleads and misdirection’s. I think the worst thing in the world is when things are predictable from a content perspective and we wanna make them unpredictable.
The 2022 Survivor Series: WarGames event emanated from Boston, Massachusetts. Nick Khan explained how Boston was decided on for this year’s event. A team used the same formula to map out events for 2023 and 2024.
Khan: We also put a lot of time and energy into figuring out what the right city was for the event [Survivor Series: WarGames]. So it was the Saturday after Thanksgiving. You don’t wanna take that event to a town where people travel out of. You wanna take it to a town where people stay in town or travel to. In our experience in the northeast, Boston in particular, Philly, cities like that where sometimes you have multigenerational families living together. We thought in Boston, again, two nights after Thanksgiving, it would be the right city for that event. Lo and behold, it was. So there’s a lot of time put into that by a whole group of folks in terms of penciling out our calendar for all of 2023 and in penciling out our calendar for part of ‘24 so we think we have that right, yet there’s always room for improvement and we’re looking to always get better.
** Back in September, a representative of PCO’s, Bertrand Hébert, sent a note to POST Wrestling in response to an inquiry about PCO dealing with fractured ribs. While PCO was doing a virtual signing with Golden Ring Collectibles, he recounted going in for an x-ray and being told he probably had multiple fractures to his ribs.
Which one? [PCO responded to a question about how his ribs are doing] Last time I went for an x-ray, they said that I had probably multiple fractures because it wasn’t nice.
PCO signed a one-year extension to remain with IMPACT Wrestling. When it comes to his future, PCO is focused on IMPACT and added that he’ll see what could be out there for him after this current deal.
Yeah, I guess so [getting back to WWE could be a goal of mine] … I mean, could be AEW, could be another — IMPACT just signed a great deal with DAZN which is all over the world which is a great app. The NFL app basically. Everybody that watches NFL now can watch IMPACT with that app and Bellator and different other sports. So IMPACT’s getting stronger and stronger, AEW is great and who knows? WWE, that’d be great but I’m not pushing on any buttons right now. I’m signed for a year with IMPACT and I wanna accomplish great things over there first, you know? We’ll see after. We’ll see after that [PCO smiled].
** Ten-time WCW World Tag Team Champion Stevie Ray was a guest on the Grue Rome Show and answered the question of if he would wrestle again. It’s been five years since Stevie wrestled and initially, he said he would not get back in the ring and considers Harlem Heat to be ‘dead’ but added that if the money is to his liking, never say never.
Frankly, I wouldn’t go back and do another match. As far as I’m concerned, Harlem Heat did what we did and I want the people to remember that, what we did and that’s it. As far as I’m concerned, Harlem Heat is dead. As far as I’m concerned, Harlem Heat is dead, never to come back again. I’m not gonna be like Jason on Friday the 13th and sh*t like that. Michael Myers or Frankenstein or The Wolfman and all these motherf*ckers that died and came back. We’re buried, we’re over with and that’s it [Ray laughed]. That’s it. But never say never though. Never say never. If enough zeros, who knows? That’s all I can tell you about that.
There was a portion of Stevie’s run in WCW when he was part of the nWo. He felt there should not have been any “p*ssies” in the group and did not mince words about his feelings towards Buff Bagwell and him being one of those people.
That’s what made it [n.W.o.] fantastic because it was something a faction had never been done in professional wrestling before. Not a faction. Almost like a hostile takeover, you know what I’m saying? Or something like that or coup d’état, in governments or something like that. That had never been done before and I think that was the real genesis of the whole thing man and I think that’s what made it so good but you just had people behind that didn’t know how to purvey it like it should have been because you had so many people running their own gimmicks within the gimmick so, but other than that, I think that’s why it went over so good because it was something fresh and new that had never been done before. You had little groups here and there in professional wrestling and stuff like that but you had never seen where as we’re going to take over this whole wrestling organization. Either you was on this side or you was on this side. That kind of stuff so I think that’s what made it great for me and it was exciting for a while and then it started to taper off, just like everything else but it was very exciting for a while and I think that’s why the fans really — but the thing to me is if they had kept it serious, to me — one thing about it, they didn’t keep it as serious as they should’ve kept it. But you can go back in hindsight and pick out 50,000 little things that was wrong with it but we shouldn’t have had… we shouldn’t have had p*ssies. I’m sorry, I’m just being honest. We shouldn’t have had no p*ssies. I’m serious. Professional wrestling is professional wrestling but it’s just certain p*ssies we shouldn’t have never had in the group. People like Marcus Bagwell, who’s scared of him? Guy can’t whoop gnats out of his own ass. Who’s scared of him? So that’s when you start to water down things. You should have had nothing but — it’s like gangsters. If I’m taking over your territory, okay, and you had Al Capone, Bugs Moran and all these guys back in the 20s and 30s, you don’t come on my block baby or it’s something going down. So when I come on your block baby, I ain’t coming with no p*ssies, you dig? So it should have been nothing but, you know, people that people look at and go, yeah, that’s the n.W.o., you know what I’m saying? But then they start to do the certain lil factions and this, that and the other and it became what it was but at the end of the day, hey man, it was fun while it lasted.
Outside of the wrestling space, Stevie said he’s working on a documentary that he wrote a few years ago.
I’m putting together a documentary that I wrote a few years ago. I’m trying to put that together, trying to get that laid down and those are the things I’ve been working on so, hey bruh, just been taking it easy and doing what I wanna do when I wanna do it.
When Stevie looks back at his wrestling career, the one regret he has is that Harlem Heat did not have a program with The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal). Ray recalled conversing with the late Animal about what they could have done business-wise if their teams had that program.
We [Harlem Heat] wanted to do a program with The Road Warriors but for some reason, the office never did it. That’s my only regret in my whole wrestling career.
Why the office didn’t see that, we have no idea. Me and Animal talked about it for years man, and another brother we’ve lost, God rest his soul. Every time we see each other, we talk about, ‘Man, what kind of money we could have drew,’ you know what I’m saying? Just like anything else. But when you had it right there, you didn’t do anything with it then I question the people that were running the office at that time.
** As Brian ‘Road Dogg’ James was discussing NXT on his ‘Oh…You Didn’t Know’ podcast, he stated that the team he had in NXT helped piece together Tiffany Stratton and Tony D’Angelo’s respective characters. James dove into how their on-screen personalities came to be.
We’d get the talent [for my class in NXT] and then you just sit with them because it’s literally a brand new canvas, you know what I mean? An artist looking at a brand new canvas and sitting down and going, ‘Who are you? What do you like?’ And you start to learn about these people and then you have an idea and you collaborate with the individual of course but also in our bubble and then we would take that. Okay, we feel really good about who this person is. Like Tiffany Stratton, I don’t know if you’ve seen her but she’s a blonde, she calls herself ‘Buff Barbie’ and she’s blonde and she’s jacked up and she used to be a gymnast. Dude, she came and it was like we came up with who she was and what she was because she was kind of really that way, you know what I mean? And it was not a stretch for her but she would have to lay it on and we came up with the whole, ‘Daddy doesn’t think I should do that.’ She was a rich girl and it just felt really good and natural and we took that to Shawn [Michaels] and Johnny Russo, the writers and everything and they kind of tweaked it and maneuvered it but it stayed true. A couple people we took and they were like, ‘Yeah, that doesn’t feel right. It feels forced’ and so we’d have to go back. But yeah, it was us creating — Tony D’Angelo — us creating but just kind of utilizing what they already have and what they like and Tony D’Angelo was like a great wrestler, collegiate wrestler, kind of that and shooter style but he could talk like Tony D. It was like, aw man, that’s awesome and so, now he’s a well-known character on NXT.
The focus of this episode of James’ podcast was the SmackDown in November 2019 when the plane from Saudi Arabia was late and NXT invaded the show. James spoke highly of the Adam Cole versus Bryan Danielson match and recounted a time when Danielson and AJ Styles argued with him about their match being on TV and not on pay-per-view.
There was another cool moment that I remember as well as this [Adam Cole vs. Bryan Danielson in WWE] was when we first did the trade and we did Daniel Bryan versus AJ Styles. It was another one I wanted to see really bad. I thought this would be a great match and both guys argued with me about doing it on television and not doing it on pay-per-view but we knew where we were going and we weren’t going there anytime soon so we can have this on TV and it’ll be a match, again, like New Day and The Usos, I could watch it all day and watch 100 matches.
On that NXT invasion show, then-WWE Champion Brock Lesnar kicked off the program with Paul Heyman and they ‘quit’ SmackDown to go to Raw. Road Dogg said that segment was originally going to be in the 9 o’clock slot or it was going to close the show before the layout changed.
What I do believe I remember is that [Brock] Lesnar thing was supposed to be on the crossover seg at the 10 o’clock hour, or, I’m sorry, the 9 o’clock hour or the main event of the show but because they landed so late, they had to put Lesnar on first and try to buy some time. But they made it and the rest is history.
** While speaking about the WarGames match, Dakota Kai shared with the ‘Getting Over’ podcast that it was IYO SKY’s idea to put the trash can over her head in the 2020 NXT women’s WarGames match and jump off the cage.
It very much is [IYO coming up with crazy things to do in WarGames] and everything crazy that she does, she suggests herself. No one’s telling IYO, like hey, you know what would be cool? You should climb to the top of a cage, put a trash can on so you’re blind and dive onto a group of people. No one would suggest that for someone else because that’s insane but she thinks of it herself and I think for her, it’s thinking of the next thing like, what’s something that can beat that? She’s just constantly thinking about the riskiest thing to do. This year, she did her awesome moonsault from the top of the cage which she also did in the first year, which is insane to me. She’s such an athlete but yeah, you said she’s crazy in the best way. It’s the best way to describe her.
** In 2021, Velvet Sky joined the NWA commentary team. She shared on MCW’s Backstage Pass show that Billy Corgan requested that she come in for the job. Velvet talked about being shocked by the offer and being guided by fellow commentators Tim Storm and Joe Galli.
March of 2021, totally unexpected, I get a call from the NWA and they had told me that Billy Corgan — and I had worked with Billy Corgan in IMPACT. He was there briefly before I left. But the NWA had told me that Billy specifically requested that I come in and do commentary and I was like, ‘Wait, what?’ No [I hadn’t done commentary before]. I thought it was super cool that — I mean first of all, I was a huge, and still am, Smashing Pumpkins fan growing up and I’m like, wait, Billy Corgan, what? So it wasn’t Billy that called me. Actually, it was Pat Kenney and he’s like, ‘Yeah, Billy wanted me to call you and offer you this. We think you’d be great’ and I was so excited but I was like, at the same time, not to doubt myself but I’m like, I’ve never done anything but wrestling and I’m confident in my ability to transition anywhere in the business but, Pat was just like, ‘Don’t worry Vel. We’re never gonna set you up to fail. You’re gonna be great. Joe and Tim are pros, they’ll guide you right through.’ So, I’ve been there now for about a year-and-a-half and the transition, it was actually smoother than I had anticipated. At first, it was a little nerve wracking because I didn’t know a lot of the faces in the NWA. There were a lot of familiar faces that I had come up with in IMPACT and on the indies that I knew their names, their move-set, you know? But there’s a whole roster of new faces that now I had to learn their names, their move-set, their backstory but for me, it was kind of like clockwork. Once I got in the seat, Joe and Tim, they guide me and I would chime in here and there but now I feel like — I don’t know — I just feel so much more comfortable than I was a year-and-a-half ago. I still have a lot to learn obviously, but it’s like second nature to me with commentary and I love it and I love that I’m still able to be involved in the wrestling industry.
** The season four finale of the Wilde On podcast featured IMPACT Wrestling’s Gia Miller interviewing Taylor Wilde. Taylor told the story of when she told a promoter in Ontario, Canada that if they plan on using her, they should do it because she was heading back to TV for IMPACT soon. At the time, Wilde did not truly know when she was heading back to TV. She ended up receiving a phone call from Scott D’Amore that night about plans to come back.
Here’s a little funny story and I’ll make it short. I was having a little bit of, not tension, but there’s a lot of political upheaval right now in the Ontario indie scene because it’s small, there’s only so many promotions, it’s really competitive and I said to one promoter, ‘You know what? I’m going back to TV really soon and if you wanna use me, now is the time.’ I had no idea when I was going back to TV. I was told that it was probably in the new year and I sh*t you not, Scott [D’Amore] called me that night… It’s not because I was saying it to make a point. I really felt like I am going back to TV soon so don’t f*ck around with me. I got sh*t to do, I am busy. I am going back and I was like, that is it. It is so powerful putting that in the universe. Thinking that ‘I am’ versus ‘what I’d like to do’ or ‘maybe I’ll achieve it’ and that’s been a big game changer for me is mindset and affirmations.
** There’s an interview on the Inside The Ropes YouTube channel with Matt Hardy. He was asked about being in the ring for Scott Steiner’s return to WWE at Survivor Series 2002. Hardy spoke about those shocking and special moments in wrestling and having one of his own alongside Jeff Hardy at WrestleMania 33.
My favorite memory out there [Scott Steiner’s return to WWE at Survivor Series] was just using the word ‘lupid’ because I remember we were saying, people, New York, they’re losers and they’re stupid and I said, let’s use some Mattitude. Let’s call them ‘lupid’ and we can meet in the middle. I did enjoy that segment, I liked working with Chris Nowkinski at that time. I thought he was really good at what he did. It’s crazy now that he’s the concussion expert and he’s changing the game in so many ways, good for him. He’s doing a great job. It was just an amazing reaction when Scott came out, how excited people were and we just did our deal with him, obviously put him over, try to make him look like a million bucks. That was our goal at the end of that night. It’s real cool when you have those moments like that where there’s these special returns and it gets the crowd. Those moments are far and few in pro wrestling, but that was one of those moments. Scott Steiner comes out, the fans are legitimately excited, they’re going nuts and it was very cool and special to be in the ring that night and watch it from a very front row perspective. It also reminds me how guys tell me all the time, like Enzo and Cass or the BULLET CLUB, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, even Claudio [Castagnoli], Sheamus, it was so cool for them to be in the ring whenever we returned at WrestleMania 33 and that was just an insane reaction. It’s really rare when you get those moments when someone shows up and it really, legitimately shocks and surprises the crowd and I was just very happy to be involved in that moment.
** NJPW is hosting a press conference on December 13th before the Super Junior and World Tag League Finals on 12/14.
** Kevin Kelly voiced the NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17 promotional video which includes KAIRI, Kazuchika Okada, Jay White, Will Ospreay, Taiji Ishimori and El Desperado.
** Dradition Pro Wrestling ‘Tatsumi Fujinami 50th Anniversary’ Results (12/1/22) Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan
– Alexander Otsuka, Katsushi Takemura, MAZADA & Nobuyuki Kurashima def. Hisamaru Tajima, Sanshu Tsubakichi, TAMURA & Yutaka Yoshie
– AKIRA, Jinsei Shinzaki & Shiro Koshinaka def. Masaaki Mochizuki, Masato Tanaka & Tatsuhito Takaiwa
– Hiromu Takahashi def. LEONA
– Daisuke Sekimoto, Kengo Mashimo & Naomichi Marufuji def. Kazusada Higuchi, KENSO & Yoshiki Inamura
– Jake Lee, Masakatsu Funaki & Zack Sabre Jr. def. Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito & Mitsuya Nagai
– Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Tatsumi Fujinami
** Hiroshi Tanahashi, YOH and Ryusuke Taguchi are going to be writing monthly columns for the NJPW site.
** Joining Pro Wrestling NOAH’s ‘The New Year’ card is a six-man tag that will see Masakatsu Funaki, Katsuhiko Nakajima and Manabu Soya face a mystery competitor, Kazuyuki Fujita and Kendo Kashin. WWE’s Shinsuke Nakamura will take on The Great Muta on that same show.
** At House of Glory’s December 17th event, Nick Aldis is challenging Jacob Fatu for the promotion’s heavyweight title.
** Swerve Strickland’s newest music video:
** Commercial to promote NJPW’s United Empire Football Club shirts:
** Episode #28 of Xavier Woods and Tyler Breeze’s Battle of the Brands series.
** Homicide is returning to Game Changer Wrestling on January 7th.
** Tony Khan’s appearance on Busted Open Radio.
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.