Columnist Rob Pasbani also previews the big week of pro wrestling on TV, updates on Mandy Rose, new WWE signings, Royal Rumble entrants and more.
As reported in the last column, Vince McMahon is officially back on the WWE board of directors as executive chairman, and the shit has already hit the fan. It just broke moments ago by Matthew Bollini that Stephanie McMahon has officially resigned from WWE.
You might recall shortly before Vince was ousted, Stephanie announced a leave of absence. That lasted two weeks because as soon as Vince was out, she was brought in as co-CEO. The following email was sent to staff members just moments ago:
Nick Khan is now the CEO of the company. Shortly after her resignation, the board voted Vince McMahon the executive chairman of the board. Vince commented on Stephanie’s leaving in a press release saying “First, I’d like to express my full support for Stephanie’s personal decision. I’ll forever be grateful that she offered to step in during my absence and I’m truly proud of the job she did co-leading WWE. Stephanie has always been the ultimate ambassador for our company, and her decades of contributions have left an immeasurable impact on our brand. I’m proud to announce that Nick Khan will serve as WWE CEO. Nick’s business acumen and mastery of the media industry have helped catapult our business to record revenue and profitability. Together, we look forward to working with the Board at this critical moment in time to review our strategic alternatives and maximize value for all WWE shareholders.”
A weekend report from CNBC notes that WWE hired financial institution JP Morgan to help sell the company.
It seems that Vince is pushing the hope that he will be kept onboard once the eventual sale goes through.
CNBC also made a list of potential buyers for WWE, and while they offer short blurbs for each, let me break these down by most likely to least likely.
Most likely to buy:
Unlikely but possible:
Not much more to report this week, but there will certainly be more down the line.
When Mercedes Moné, the former Sasha Banks, made her first appearance in New Japan Pro Wrestling at their massive Wrestle Kingdom event, she announced she will be wrestling her first match for the company at the Battle in the Valley PPV event in San Jose. At the time, there were about 1,000 tickets available for purchase. Today, the entire event is sold out.
Mercedes Moné, along with Kenny Omega, helped bring in over 40,000 new subscriptions to New Japan World for the event. A record 93,000 plus people were watching the event live, with about 30,000 people watching the U.S. feed. That’s notable because the show started at 3am eastern (for the record, I did not watch live, so I don’t count.)
Beyond that, her Pro Wrestling Tees store is now the top selling merch seller on the site, which features all of AEW, CM Punk, and WWE legends like Bret Hart and Mick Foley. Put it simply, Mercedes is money!
Will she appear on AEW Dynamite tomorrow? While AEW is going out of their way not to tease it, we still don’t know. Even Saraya doesn’t know, she said during an interview this week.
WWE NXT airs its New Years Evil show tonight at 8pm on USA Network:
AEW has a huge Dynamite from Los Angeles tomorrow at 8pm on TBS:
IMPACT airs Thursdays at 8pm on AXS. Here’s the card:
Smackdown has a few matches announced for Friday at 8pm on Fox:
Two matches have been announced for AEW Rampage on Friday at 10pm on TNT:
The men’s Royal Rubmle has Kofi Kingston, Seth Rollins, Ricochet, Bobby Lashley, and Austin Theory as official entrances. The women’s Rumble has Rhea Ripley and Candice LeRae confirmed as entrants.
Karl Fredericks has signed with WWE and will be starting on NXT soon.
It seems as though Bo Dallas has been confirmed as portraying Uncle Howdy.
WWE is reportedly also interested in Tama Tonga and Hikuleo. It’s believed both wrestlers’ contracts are up soon and they might get snagged up. Jay White’s New Japan contract is also up soon and it’s believed he wants to leave and go to America. Both AEW and WWE are interested, but WWE will likely be able to outbid AEW.
Vince McMahon’s return to the company has created a new class action lawsuit from shareholders.
Andrade posted a cryptic tweet saying “BYE” with a photo of his AEW mask. He has been suspended since the summer, after instigating a fight with Sammy Guevara.
In an interview with UK-based Metro, Saraya revealed her WWE contract was up in July and Triple H offered her a chance to return to the ring. “He did give me the opportunity to potentially be a GM again and give me the opportunity to be like, ‘If you ever potentially want to wrestle again, I’ll give you that opportunity too.’ He was very open about any ideas that I had,” she said.
Mandy Rose appeared on The Tamron Hall Show and spoke for the first time since being fired by WWE over her race FanTime account. Rose said she was “very hurt” and “very disappointed” about her release, and nobody actually told her why she was being fired. Rose said she was warned once about post racy content and complied with it. She ultimately expressed gratitude to WWE for giving her a platform and opportunity. Rose earned a million dollars from the account last month, after being fired, according to FanTime reps. “Because of everything that’s happened since then, everything happens for a reason. I can’t even say I was wronged, because I am so forever grateful for everything the WWE has presented me with. So, I can’t sit here and say that I was wronged or not… but I’m very hurt. Nobody wants to get that call that they’re being fired from any job, right? So I was very hurt, I was very disappointed. I was disappointed so much more because of everything that I put into the business, but just the last year-and-a-half. I was champion for 413 days, I unified those two titles that we just saw [the NXT and NXT UK Women’s championships], I was the third longest-reigning NXT Women’s Champion. I also created this must-see faction with two other women that I really brought up, and I got to see so many women develop their characters, and they’re all a lot younger than me, and really in the beginning of their careers. And to me, that was so important, because it was so rewarding for me. So losing the title was, honestly, a gut punch. It definitely — I was so disappointed. But at the end of the day, my purpose was what was gone. And that’s where I kind of felt lost. And I felt confused, because of all the hard work that I put into, and driving home from that, just a lot of things were going through my mind. You know, you always think there’s a lot of unanswered questions and all that, but at the end of the day, like I said, I love what I’ve done in the WWE, and I love what the platform presented me with. So I am forever grateful for them.”
Kyle O’Reilly revealed in an Instagram post that his neck injury isn’t healing as fast as he had hoped, likely because of his ongoing struggles with diabetes.
Becky Lynch revealed she will be reprising her role as Cyndi Lauper on Young Rock on NBC.
Rey Mysterio’s Spanish-language Netflix series is being dubbed in English and released later this month. Here’s a trailer.
The New York Times has a great feature on AEW star Danhausen.
Here’s the new cover for the upcoming AEW video game, Fight Forever.
Do you enjoy pro wrestling? Knotfest Wrestling has a bi-weekly column filled with wrestling news. Read previous editions of this column here. You can always follow me @robinjection on Instagram and Twitter and @Squaredcirclpit.