It's been a pretty wild week in the world of pro wrestling since I last saw you here at Knotfest Wrestling, so we'll jump right in as soon as I remind you to tune in this Monday, June 11th, as Alicia Atout, Colin Young, and Jordan Olds host the video version of Knotfest Wrestling talking about all the week's news that we'll be going over in this column.
Sasha Banks and Naomi Released?
While WWE has yet to make it official, Sasha Banks and Naomi have been removed from the internal rosters, according to PWInsider. Both Banks and Naomi edited their Instagram profiles to remove "WWE superstar" from their bios and replace the term with "professional wrestler."
Their are conflicting reports as to when the release actually happened. While the duo's merch has been removed from the WWE shop, and they were edited out of WWE intros, their online profiles are still active.
Banks and Naomi have not been on WWE TV since they walked out during the May 16th taping of WWE RAW, reportedly over creative plan disagreements. The duo were allegedly not happy that they would be in singles matches, and not defending their Womens Tag Titles. They allegedly went to McMahon and tried to speak their case and he agreed with them, according to third-hand accounts. Then, shortly after the duo were told by an agent that the plans had been reverted to the original idea and when Banks and Naomi resisted, the agent allegedly yelled at them, causing them to walk into then head of talent relations Johnny Lauranitis' office, drop off the belts and announce they were leaving.
According to PWInsider, Banks is planning on announcing a selection of signings in September outside of WWE.
Could we see the duo turn up in AEW? Maybe a run in Japan? Where do you see Sasha and Naomi ending up? Naomi tweeted this earlier today:
New Report Reveals Vince McMahon Paid Three More Women Hush Money Over "Sexual Misconduct & Infidelity"
A new report today by the Wall Street Journal alleges Vince McMahon paid $12 million to four women in hush money, some of which were on screen talent. This is in addition to the report a few weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal revealing Vince McMahon was under investigation by the WWE board of directors. The investigation was spawned by a tip that McMahon paid out $3 million dollars of his personal money to a former employee of WWE that was hired as a paralegal with whom he allegedly had an extramarital affair. The report claimed that McMahon doubled the woman's pay after beginning his affair, and eventually passed her off to Head of Talent Relations, John Lauranitis.
The initial report resulted in McMahon temporarily stepping down as chairman and CEO and his daughter, former Chief Brand Officer, Stephanie McMahon, stepping in as interim CEO. Lauranitis is also on leave.
The new report today reveals that WSJ has been made aware of three other women who have had similar agreements with McMahon resulting in $12 million in payments. WSJ did not name any names but claimed to have reviewed documents proving their validity.
The largest payment was for $7.5 million for a former WWE diva who claims McMahon "coerced her into giving him oral sex and then demoted her and, ultimately, declined to renew her contract in 2005 after she resisted further sexual encounters, according to people familiar with the matter." The former wrestler got an attorney in 2018 and approached McMahon and was able to obtain the settlement.
Another woman, identified as a WWE contractor, claims McMahon sent her unsolicited nude photos, which she presented to the company and in 2008, McMahon made her sign a non-disclosure agreement for $1 million.
The third woman was identified as a former manager who worked for WWE for 10 years until coming to an agreement for $1 million after McMahon initiated a sexual relationship with her and then told her to keep quiet about it.
Additionally, the WWE board has learned Laurinitis had another $1.5 million nondisclosure agreement reached in 2012 with another employee involving misconduct claims against Lauranitis.
The WWE Board of Directors is currently holding an independent investigation by the board's outside legal counsel at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.
When the initial report was released, Vince McMahon appeared on WWE Smackdown that night. No such announcement has been made for tonight's show.
WWE Smackdown Preview
Well, if we can lighten things up a bit, what is scheduled for Smackdown tonight? Quite a few things actually!
- Roman Reigns makes his return to Smackdown to start the build for WWE Summer Slam and his last man standing match against Brock Lesnar
- Drew McIntyre will face Sheamus and the winner faces the Undisputed WWE Champion
- Maximum Male Models, my favorite silly new gimmick, unveil their 2022 tennis collection
- Liv Morgan makes her debut as new WWE Smackdown Women's Champion.
AEW Rampage Preview
After Smackdown, stick around for Rampage on TNT for what is said to be a killer opening match. Here's the full card:
- Eddie Kingston vs. Konosuke Takeshita
- Jonathan Gresham & Lee Moriarty vs. Gates of Agony
- Orange Cassidy vs. Tony Nese
- Mercedes Martinez & Serena Deeb in tag team action.
If you don't want to wait for tonight for the results, you can read spoilers here.
Other wrestling news and bits.
WWE has announced the Usos will face the Street Profits at WWE Summer Slam this month in a rematch from last month's Money in the Bank event. The rematch is the result of Montez Ford of Street Profits having his shoulder up at the end of the last match and the ref missing it. Other matches signed include Pat Macafee vs. Happy Corbin, Bobby Lashley vs. Theory for the US title and the aforementioned Brock vs. Roman match.
Tony Khan has revealed a slew of matches for ROH Death Before Dishonor on Saturday, July 23 in Lowell, MA. Here's the card as of right now:
- ROH World Television Championship: Samoa Joe (c) vs. Jay Lethal
- ROH World Tag Team Championship: FTR (c) vs. The Briscoes
- ROH Pure Championship: Wheeler Yuta (c) vs. Daniel Garcia
In a recent press conference, New Japan Pro Wrestling announced that women from their sister league, STARDOM, will be appearing on American New Japan shows, which is a pretty big deal. They also revealed that cheering will finally return to Japanese shows during two special shows on September 4th and 5th at Tokyo's Korakuen Hall. This whole time fans have only been allowed to clap and not use their voice.
In a new series of tweets to fans, Kota Ibushi revealed that his shoulder still hasn't healed right after eight months, and he's not sure when he'll be back. He also alluded to possibly starting either a wrestling school or a small promotion.
That's all for this edition, hit me up @robinjection with your feedback and I'll be back next week with more news, results and gossip.