Columnist Rob Pasbani gets you up to date on all the backstage news and happenings leading up to Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania. Plus, all the big matches this weekend!
With WWE’s Royal Rumble now in the periphery, we are full speed on the road to WrestleMania. WWE’s next big event is Elimination Chamber and it’s only two weeks away, which means we’ll be getting a full lineup very quickly. The event takes place in Montreal, Canada.
Already announced for the show is the Men’s Elimination Chamber match for the WWE US Championship with Austin Theory, Seth Rollins, Bronson Reed, Johnny Gargano and two more wrestlers to be determined on Raw.
The Women’s Elimination Chamber match victor will earn a shot at the WWE RAW Women’s Champion, Bianca Belair at WrestleMania. Already announced for the match are Raquel Rodriguez, Liv Morgan, Nikki Cross and Asuka. Two more women will be announced for the match. Tonight on Smackdown, and Monday on Raw will feature two elimination matches to determine the final two competitors in the match.
Also expected to be announced on Smackdown tonight is the main event with Roman Reigns defending against the hometown boy, Sami Zayn. Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley are also both scheduled for the show. It is unclear if they will be in the men’s chamber or involved in a separate match.
The two-night WrestleMania card also continues to take shape. As first discussed in my previous column, here is the working lineup:
WWE Smackdown tonight at 8pm on Fox has a big show, which includes the followup to the closing angle at Royal Rumble last weekend:
AEW Rampage has a fun lineup planned, starting at 10pm on TNT:
WWE NXT has a big streaming event, Vengeance Day this Saturday night at 8pm on Peacock:
New Japan has shows streaming this Saturday and Sunday.
RAW on Monday at 8pm on USA Network has a pretty loaded card too:
AEW Dynamite next Wednesday at 8pm has a big show announced:
WWE legend turned Hollywood actor, Dave Bautista expressed interest in finally being inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame this year, when the ceremony takes place in Los Angeles on the night before WrestleMania. When asked by Comicbook.com if he would be attending “I hope so, but I can’t say for sure,” Bautista said. “I can say that I’m trying. I am trying.” Batista was originally inducted in 2020, but there was no ceremony due to COVID. The following year, when they were inducting both the 2020 and 2021 class, Batista could not make it due to a scheduling conflict, so the induction still lingers.
In a recent interview with CNBC, WWE CEO Nick Khan said a sale of WWE could happen within three months. The article noted a sticking point with potential buyers is Vince McMahon’s interest to stay on. McMahon and Khan have made it clear he is willing to step down in the best interest of shareholders.
Even though John Cena is scheduled for WrestleMania, he will not be available for television until late March, due to filming the movie Ricky Stanicky for Amazon Prime.
Rey and Dominick Mysterio shot an angle at the NASCAR event this afternoon.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Bryan Danielson revealed he was asked by Vince McMahon in 2020 what he thought of AEW. Danielson said AEW “committed more time to and placed more value on the craft of fighting in the ring.” Meanwhile, WWE featured shorter matches and more talking. “It feels like you’re watching a wrestling show without any wrestling,” Danielson said to McMahon.
That same article noted that AEW is working on launching a streaming service, “likely through a deal with its broadcast partner, Warner Bros. Discovery Inc., according to a person familiar with management’s thinking, who asked not to be named.”
ROH’s Maria Kanellis revealed she has to undergo thyroid surgery.
The Rock’s mother, Ata Johnson, survived a gnarly-looking car crash.
Fightful Select reports the first Ring of Honor TV tapings are scheduled for late February, likely in Orlando at Universal Studios. The tapings will build to the ROH Supercard of Honor event on March 31st.
WWE legend and brother of the Macho Man, Lanny Paffo (aka the Genius) sadly passed away on Thursday. He was 68 years old.
Kota Ibushi is now a free agent and has announced a few matches with GCW for WrestleMania weekend. AEW has interest, but Ibushi said he wants to establish a wrestling school before coming to AEW.
Keiji Mutoh, in his final match under his “Great Muta” moniker, injured both of his hamstrings. It’s believed to be a sprain. His last last match is February 21st vs. Naito.
All Elite Wrestling announced their series of house shows called “House Rules.” The first show is in Troy, Ohio on March 18th. More info here.
According to Wrestling Observer, WWE stars Liv Morgan, Bayley, Natalya, Sonya Deville, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E were in LA to shoot a week’s worth of episodes for Wheel of Fortune.