To kick off tonight’s post, let’s look at Sean Ross Sapp….no, seriously. He posted on Fightful.com something interesting. He had reached out and talked to several WWE wrestlers about All Elite Wrestling and revealed some interesting comments. Among those he talked to, he made sure to point out that they were all on the basis of anonymity. He claims the wrestlers he spoke to are all optimistic about the promotion. While not everyone replied or wanted to speak out on the situation, Sapp did to on to say;
The consensus was that more places to work is a major positive, but there were a lot of wrestlers who hadn’t been clued in to their business models. On the other hand, several wrestlers in WWE learned of the news as far back as September. The most clued in seem to think that this is a legitimate venture with a great shot of making it work because of how in tune the players are with wrestling in 2019, but also said it would be key that they break through to the fabled casual fan.
And considering that the WWE was kicking people out of the SmackDown tapings last night for wearing AEW shirts, it’s not at all surprising that the WWE would react negatively to any wrestler being openly optimistic about a new workplace. On top of that, guys like Tye Dillinger who openly supports AEW on Twitter may be on thin ice with the company, and he may like it that way.
In more AEW news, Brandi Rhodes clarified her ‘equal pay’ comments for men and women. It turns out just like I thought, that there was a bottom cap to any contract offered, and not a 1-to-1 ratio of pay. So Chris Jericho and Britt Baker are not making the same amount of money (or even close). So the term “equal pay” is actually just buzzwords for good publicity. She also wants to really hammer home that the “gender pay gap” does not apply. She goes on to clarify what “equal pay” means to her;
Equal pay means equal opportunity regardless of sex. It does not mean that everyone will be paid the exact same salary regardless of their position. It means the gender pay gap does not apply. An entry level woman won’t make less than an entry level man because of her gender.
— Brandi Rhodes (@TheBrandiRhodes) January 9, 2019
Sure, because paying women the bare minimum several men will make is ‘equal pay’. Right. Nice use of buzzwords. Still more credible than Stephanie McMahon, that’s for sure.
Finally, in more AEW news, we now know if AEW will be exclusive to talents.; and the blunt answer is no. When talking to people after the Press Conference from yesterday, Cody and Brandi were asked about the exclusivity of contracts, to which Brandi said “…The idea for us is to be friendly with a lot of people. We definitely don’t want to shut doors – there’s no reason too. We like a lot of people.”
Cody confirmed that Joey Janale‘s annual shit-show Spring Break will still be happening, as well as Chris Jericho’s next cruise. It seems like these deals will be similar to IMPACT’s, where talent can still work elsewhere, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their needs as a company. So that’s a no-no on WWE ,but everywhere else is open. PAC won’t be leaving Dragon Gate, and Jericho can still work NJPW. It also means Janela and Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) could still work Major League Wrestling as well.
AEW is looking a lot like Pro Wrestling NOAH and Wreslte-1 when they left All Japan Pro Wrestling in a mass exodus. AEW left ROH and NJPW, leaving many holes to fill, but NJPW President Harold Meij spoke about this very thing . Speaking in Japanese, NJPW announcer and translator Chris Charlton relayed Meij’s words in English;
Is New Japan OK?’ Yes it is. ‘Is this the beginning of the end?’ Twitter’s getting ahead of itself. More promotions in the market is proof of a healthy sector with more people watching. A billion dollar market is turning into 1.3, 1.5 billion. It’s not a tiny space with everyone fighting over scraps anymore.
Talent will come & go. That’s life. Half of Japanese people have had more than one occupation. More overseas. There are different life stages, priorities change. What counts is that while here, ppl shine as bright as possible & produce the best product possible for us.
…This is a Japanese company. I want to bring that Japanese excellence, that New Japan ism, as is, unchanged, to fans in Japan and all over the world. For now, don’t worry. Enjoy the ride. Enjoy Fantasticamania.
Meij also wanted to stem people’s fears about his being an outsider. Japan for those unaware is the most intolerant first world nation out there. They’re extremely protective of their own interest and don’t accept non-Japanese easily, making NJPW as a company ahead of the curve. Meij though has done years of work in Japan, and isn’t some outsider as some may think. He went on to explain this by saying;
I often see talk along the lines of ‘since Meij came in, they’re only looking at international, they don’t care about Japan.’ That couldn’t be more wrong. New Japan has gotten to the stage that the world has taken notice of it and we can do these things abroad. I’m not pushing the company international; if anything it’s the other way round. I’m doing my job as a professional to fulfill very strong demand.
ROH has announced that their Women of Honor champion Kelly Klein has agreed to a new deal with the company. The new deal isn’t known but I’ve heard it’s for a year. Though that’s not confirmed. ROH has an issue with keeping talent long term and that’s in part because of the ownership and Delirious, the head booker. Speaking to ROHWrestling.com, Klein said;
The truth is that I have been leading this division since the day I walked into the dojo and left over 50 other wrestlers in my dust. I was the leader with or without the championship. And that’s exactly why it is only fitting that I officially lead the company as the face and the cornerstone of Women of Honor. You don’t demand respect. You earn respect. Time and again I have earned respect. You don’t have to like me. But you’re lying if you say you don’t respect me.
While things are vague, it appears as though McKenzie Mitchell is actually done with IMPACT Wrestling. It appears her move out to California late-last year wasn’t as overblown as we were lead to believe. She posted a shot of her in front of the IMPACT logo and stated;
Grateful. Changed. IMPACTed. Undoubtedly the most exhilarating and exciting experience of my life thus far. Words can’t describe my appreciation for @impactwrestling and company and all that I’ve learned with this experience. To my friends, family, and fans- you guys rock and are the reason why I love doing what I do each and every day. 2019 is a year of change and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Then in the comments, she seemingly thanks everyone for their well wishes but at no point goes to any lengths to deny questions or claims she’s left IMPACT Wrestling.
Kenny Smith, an AP for IMPACT Wrestling, tweeted out his support for her as she moves on, saying;
Made lots of fun memories working together with you. Great times. Wish you the best! https://t.co/swoypHtpxS
— Kenny F. Smith (@kennyfreakin) January 8, 2019
A formal response to Mitchell about her departure has not been replied to.
In Other News
Joey Ryan has announced he’ll be returning to the ring full time on February 9th, having full healed from his torn pectoral muscle injury that he suffered in November. Full dates for February (so far) can be found on his Twitter account.
In Major League Wrestling News, Court Bauer confirmed the promotion hosted 9,322 fans this year across their t.v. tapings (not counting VIP sections). The shows drew an average of 717 fans per show, but according to the report, the average jumped to 1,008 fans per show in the second half. However it should be stated that a lot of those fans came in for the Chicago tapings, and that one show really distorts the number.
Finally, pro wrestler Jake Hager (Jack Swagger) is set for his Bellator debut on the 26th of this month, on the same show that Fedor vs. Bader happens for the Heavyweight Championship. Hager is hoping that WWE star R-Truth will rap him to the cage, saying;
I think there will be some WWE guys at the event, and I think R-Truth, Ron Killings will be performing at the event for me. You’re just going to have to tune in and find out!
WWE has a history of denying guys these opportunities, except for Triple H though. Hager also emphasized he wants multiple MMA fights in 2019. Bellator sees Hager as a big addition to their roster and have high hopes for him.