Knotfest Wrestling is back with a new update, and while I typically start out the week on a Tuesday, there's too much news today to wait.
So we'll jump into the crazy stories happening in WWE, a recap of this weekend's Ring of Honor show, and more wrestling news.
There is so much going on in the world of wrestling and tonight at 7pm eastern, join hosts Alicia Atout, Colin Young, and Jordan Olds as they go through all of it, on the Knotfest Youtube. The video will stream at the embed below. Click it to save for later!
Paul "Triple H" Levesque Named Head of WWE Creative
After the news last Friday that Vince McMahon was retiring was announced, WWE ensured that their stock price wouldn't crash this morning by releasing its quarterly earnings early. If you're curious, WWE announced $328 million in revenue with $92 million in OIBDA and $70 million in operating income, which is higher than they originally estimated. But deep in the press release was the news that wrestling fans, not business insiders, actually cared about – which was that Paul Levesque, more famously known as Triple H, was named head of WWE creative. This is in addition to his previously announced role as head of talent relations.
Triple H's experience running creative comes from what many fans consider the golden era of NXT. Triple H ran the "black and gold" brand and many hardcore WWE fans typically preferred those shows to Raw or Smackdown at the time of airing. The quarterly NXT Takeover events which would happen the night before WWE PPVs would routinely be received far more favorably by fans who watched both. Whatever changes happen will likely happen slowly over time.
Could this mean an exciting shift in storylines for WWE? For years, the stories have lacked consistency, featured repetitive matches, and the same few superstars featured. Could we be seeing more variety? Will we see the return of actual consequences and storyline payoffs? Will we see less camera cuts? Less awkward verbiage? It's certainly an exciting time to tune back into WWE.
Also, with Triple H in charge, what does this mean for Bruce Pritchard, the previous head of creative, and essentially Vince's right-hand man? Will Bruce be working under Triple H or will he slowly be phased out of the company? The same question goes for WWE executive producer Kevin Dunn. Dunn and Triple H have famously clashed heads in the past, according to backstage insiders. With Vince gone, could Dunn's days as head of the production be numbered?
The happenings behind the scenes are way more exciting than what's happening in front of the scenes. And that's why I love wrestling. Speaking of crazy behind the scenes stories…
WWE To Disclose Vince's $14.6 Million in Payments
Another interesting note in the release WWE made this morning about earnings was that they would be revising statements for the last two years as a result of "certain unrecorded expenses" by Vince McMahon dating back to 2006.
WWE estimates the total payments for these expenses amount to $14.6 million. Previously, the Wall Street Journal reported that Vince paid out $12 million to four former employees, with the highest payout being $7.5 million for a former WWE female wrestler, so this means the board must've uncovered more payments that were made than the Wall Street Journal was not aware of.
Due to corporate accounting reasons, they will be adjusting the books for 2019, 2020, 2021 and the first quarter of 2022 to account for these expenses. McMahon will personally reimburse any money owed to the company. It is not explicitly clear if McMahon used company funds or his own money to pay off these NDAs.
This is likely what forced McMahon out of the company so swiftly. There would be no coming back from this. The letter stated that McMahon resigned, as opposed to "retired," the phrase he used publicly. The board's special committee investigation is still ongoing.
For what it's worth, WWE's stock price was up as much as 10% today. As of this writing it's up 8.15%. Wall Street seems okay with these changes and WWE's financials. There will likely be more to come from this story, when WWE discloses the payments and we see more big stories in the mainstream press about this with new revelations. I've seen murmurs that the HBO Real Sports piece on this topic will make fans grab the popcorn. As always, I'll keep you posted.
Ring of Honor Death Before Dishonor Quick Results
Ring of Honor held Death Before Dishonor this past Saturday, and it was the first event fully under the branding and ownership of AEW's Tony Khan. There was some great action. Here are the quick results.
- Colt Cabana defeated Anthony Henry
- Trustbusters defeated Shinobi Shadow Squad
- Brian Cage & Gates of Agony def. Tony Deppen, Alex Zayne, & Blake Christian
- Willow Nightingale defeated Allysin Kay
- Claudio Castagnoli defeated Jonathan Gresham (c) to become new ROH World Champion
- Dalton Castle & The Boys defeated The Righteous (c) for the ROH Six-Man Tag Team Championship
- Wheeler Yuta (c) defeated Daniel Garcia for the ROH Pure Championship
- RUSH defeated Dragon Lee
- Mercedes Martinez (c) defeated Serena Deeb for the ROH Women's Championship
- Samoa Joe (c) defeated Jay Lethal for the ROH TV Championship
- FTR (c) defeated The Briscoes for the ROH Tag Team Championship in a 2-of-3 falls match
The two best matches of the night were clearly the main event, and Rush vs. Dragon Lee. Dragon Lee hit one of the craziest suicide dives I had ever seen:
According to Fightful, Jonathan Gresham was not pleased with how he was booked on the show, and asked for his release. You may have noted his displeasure based on his entrance not featuring his usual octopus flare. He simply came out in a t-shirt and without his manager and lost in a quick match. Gresham was said to have been very upset backstage before the match, with some reporting they could hear him screaming through doors during a meeting with Tony Khan. According to Fightful, Gresham "was said to have communicated the frustration that led to him 'cussing out' Khan."
Speaking of his manager, it looks like Tully Blanchard is no longer with ROH or AEW. There was a dispute that led to Blanchard being unable to attend the PPV. Blanchard's reasoning was his prison ministry group, although it is unclear if that led to travel issues. On the show, in storyline, Prince Nana returned and had acquired the contracts for all of Blanchard's wrestlers, renaming the group "The Embassy." As a Prince Nana fan for a long time, I don't mind this at all.
My personal review of the show is that while it was entertaining, I am finding it hard to discern the difference between modern ROH and AEW. I still don't quite understand what ROH is anymore. They have no weekly television, they have no events other than these PPVs and their matches are only featured on AEW shows. Will ROH have its own roster? A streaming show? I assume the thought is to make ROH the AEW version of what NXT is to WWE, but AEW already has two streaming shows to featuring up-and-coming talent – Dark and Elevation. Why not make one of those shows the Ring of Honor show? Just confusing branding all around. But, besides that, the wrestling was excellent and it was great to see Dragon Lee back on US television. I really hope they sign him.
Here are some more wild moments from the event:
Wrestling on TV This Week Preview
Raw has a big show tonight heading into Summerslam this Saturday, featuring a rare appearance by Roman Reigns. Of course, they're in Madison Square Garden, which always means a hot crowd. Also, it's the first RAW with HHH in charge and Vince retired. It's gonna be pretty noteworthy. Here is what's been announced so far:
- Roman Reigns & The Usos vs. Riddle & The Street Profits
- Rey & Dominik Mysterio vs. The Judgment Day (Damian Priest & Finn Balor)
- Rey Mysterio WWE 20th anniversary celebration
- Logan Paul hosts his new talk show, ImPaulsive TV
Tomorrow is NXT 2.0 on the USA Network and here's the card for that:
- Apollo Crews vs. Xyon Quinn
- Tony D'Angelo's Family vs. Diamond Mine
- Grayson Waller vs. Wes Lee
- Giovanni Vinci vs. Bodhi Hayward
Wednesday is a packed AEW Dynamite on TBS, for their Fight for the Fallen show. The lineup includes:
- Interim AEW World Championship: Jon Moxley (c) vs. Rush
- AEW Women's World Championship: Thunder Rosa (c) vs. Miyu Yamashita
- FTW Championship: Ricky Starks (c) vs. Danhausen
- Bryan Danielson vs. Daniel Garcia
- Swerve Strickland vs. Mark Sterling & Tony Nese (Keith Lee is banned from ringside)
Thursday is IMPACT on AXS TV and here's what's scheduled so far:
- KUSHIDA vs. Rich Swann
- Killer Kelly vs. TBA
- Eddie Edwards vs. Ace Austin
- Josh Alexander vs. Shera
Here's what's announced for Friday's Smackdown on Fox, on the eve of WWE Summer Slam:
- Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre in a A Good Old Fashioned Donnybrook Match
- Aliyah vs. Lacey Evans
- The New Day vs. The Viking Raiders
- Maximum Male Models unveil their 2022 beachwear collection.
AEW Rampage, Friday on TNT has two matches announced so far:
- Ethan Page vs. Leon Ruffin
- Matt Sydal vs. Lee Moriarty
WWE Summer Slam is this Saturday, streaming on Peacock:
- Undisputed WWE Universal Championship Last Man Standing match: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Brock Lesnar
- Raw Women's Championship: Bianca Belair (c) vs. Becky Lynch
- SmackDown Women's Championship: Liv Morgan (c) vs. Ronda Rousey
- United States Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Theory
- Undisputed Tag Team Championship: The Usos (c) vs. The Street Profits (Jeff Jarrett special guest referee)
- Logan Paul vs. The Miz
- Seth Rollins vs. Riddle
- Pat McAfee vs. Happy Corbin
And Sunday ends this long wrestling week with the big Ric Flair's Last Match event streaming on FITE and PPV. Check out my preview of that wild lineup here.