WWE is in an interesting place following WrestleMania 33. We have already witnessed numerous changes. The Undertaker and Goldberg have unofficially retired. Brock Lesnar is the Universal Champion despite not appearing since the Raw after WrestleMania. Randy Orton is the WWE Champion with little momentum. Many stars have changed brands with the Superstar Shakeup. Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss switching brands have truly changed the landscape of both Women’s Divisions. New Day is getting ready to join the SmackDown roster. Kurt Angle has returned as the General Manager of Raw. Basically, things are changing quickly with WWE trying to keep a relevant product following WrestleMania season.
The recent months have provided even more news about the backstage aspect of the state of WWE. Plans for the future, character changes, new talent coming in, other talent leaving and the company changing their opinions on wrestlers all provide backstage scoops that have been leaked. We'll take a look at many of the most important and relevant stories that are going on in the backstage aspect of the company. The rest of the year should be interesting given the big names involved here. These are fifteen recent backstage news stories to have recently leaked.
15 WWE Turned Down Batista's Return Idea
Batista is achieving great fame in Hollywood as a movie star. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Vol. 2 is a smash hit making him even more relevant than usual. Batista recently revealed on Chris Jericho’s Talk is Jericho podcast that he has been pitching an idea to return to WWE. The suggestion of Batista would see him have a feud with Triple H to serve as his retirement match.
Jericho asked if Batista would be interested in a match with Brock Lesnar and Batista remained adamant that his only desire is to end his career the way his glory began working with Triple H. Unfortunately for Batista fans, WWE has shut down this idea multiple times and it doesn’t appear to be possible. We may never see Batista wrestle another match with his acting career taking off and WWE not liking his pitch.
14 The Undertaker Wanted To Lose To Roman Reigns
Many wrestling fans are still livid that The Undertaker’s alleged final match in WWE was a loss at the hands of Roman Reigns. It was only the second ever WrestleMania loss for The Undertaker and the most hated wrestler managed to defeat him. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez discussed the likelihood of this being an Undertaker decision.
Vince McMahon changed the WrestleMania plans from Undertaker versus John Cena to Undertaker against Reigns when it became clear this could be Undertaker’s final match. The respected veteran strongly believes in the old school approach to the business, where a retiring wrestler puts over the young star. McMahon’s strong belief in Reigns being “the guy” led to Undertaker wanting to help give him more credibility.
13 Alexa Bliss Passes Sasha Banks & Bayley In Pecking Order
A lot can change in a year. Sasha Banks was right there with Charlotte Flair as the top women’s wrestlers in WWE with Bayley viewed as the next breakout star in NXT. No one thought Alexa Bliss was near the level of the “Four Horsewomen” and she never even had her own singles match on one of the NXT:TakeOver specials.
Today, Bliss is the top star in the Raw Women’s Division after the Superstar Shakeup. Alexa became the first woman to win both the SmackDown Live Women’s Championship and Raw Women’s Championship following the brand split. WWE apparently has slotted her above Banks and Bayley only second to Charlotte in the pecking order. Bliss defeating Bayley on the first show after being sent to Raw showed just how highly WWE values her as a centerpiece of the division.
12 Dean Ambrose Viewed As Lazy
One of the harshest news stories to break revolves around WWE viewing Dean Ambrose as growing “lazy” and “complacent” as a wrestler. Ambrose certainly has taken a dramatic fall from being the WWE World Champion last summer to not even making the main card of WrestleMania 33. Part of the reason for Ambrose’s stock falling is WWE viewing him as no longer caring as much at getting better.
It's hard for one to stay hungry and continue growing after reaching the top of the mountain. The criticism may be harsh considering Ambrose has wrestled the most matches for WWE over the past two years. Ambrose is a workhorse that never takes time off and has not been bit by the injury bug. Still, WWE thinks he needs to find his hunger to get back into the upper echelon with his fellow former Shield brothers.
11 Chris Jericho Returning Sooner Than Expected
Chris Jericho had one of the best years of his legendary career in 2016. The heel work of Jericho as Kevin Owens’ best friend carried Raw for many months. Many expected the show to fall apart following the injury to Finn Balor ruining short term plans. Jericho stepped up and was once again a main event act working with Owens, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns to carry the brand.
Owens and Jericho ended up having a great feud following their breakup leading to Jericho being written off television to tour with his band Fozzy. Jericho is actually scheduled to come back far sooner than anyone expected. Recent news reports indicated WWE is under the belief Jericho will be back towards the end of July just in time for Summerslam. WWE also made sure to switch Jericho to SmackDown before writing him off meaning there are already plans likely in the works.
10 More ROH & TNA Stars Coming To WWE
WWE is still aggressively looking to sign all of the top stars on the free agent market. There are a few names that are considered locks to be joining the company following the end of their time in ROH and TNA. On the TNA side, Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis are both expected to appear in the near future. The news reports state Maria finishing her college semester is the reason for the wait. Crazzy Steve is another former TNA star likely coming to NXT.
Two former ROH main event stars that Triple H wants to bring in very soon are Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly. Both men have a clause in their contract that makes WWE have to wait a short time period before officially signing them. Lio Rush and Donovan Dijak are two other former ROH stars WWE appears to have interest in. Expect many new names in NXT and on the main roster in the next few months.
9 Roman Reigns To Become IC Champion
The recent injury to Braun Strowman has left Roman Reigns without a feud going into the summer. Reports have suggested that Reigns was to end his story with Strowman this month and move into a new angle with The Miz heading into Summerslam. The plan of WWE is to have Miz defeat Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship before dropping it to Reigns.
WWE wants to use the fact that Reigns has held every male WWE Title except for the Intercontinental and Universal Championships to tell a later story. The hope is to market Reigns’ eventual chase for the Universal Championship as the last title for him to win after holding the IC belt for a few months. Miz is also doing some of the best work of his career and the two could benefit from working together in a storyline for the first time.
8 Kevin Owens Versus Shinsuke Nakamura Planned For Summer
Another title program being planned by WWE for the next few months is apparently Shinsuke Nakamura against Kevin Owens. Nakamura’s introduction on the main roster is a short feud with Dolph Ziggler. WWE has accidentally showed their hand for the summer by having Nakamura and Owens advertised to face each other on all summer live events.
It makes perfect sense given the current spot of both men on SmackDown Live. Owens is currently feuding with A.J. Styles. The plans are for Owens to retain and Styles to eventually find his way back into the main event picture. Nakamura can’t wrestle Ziggler for more than a month or two. The popularity of his character is going to lead to a quick push. Nakamura winning the United States Championship in a few months is more than likely happening.
7 WWE Brings Back Jim Ross
A shocking surprise to come in recent months was WWE signing legendary announcer Jim Ross to a contract. Ross is still doing his Ross Report podcast and currently calling New Japan’s United States TV show, but WWE will have him do light work on some of their side projects. The team of JR and Nigel McGuinness are expected to call the WWE United Kingdom shows for the WWE Network.
Triple H recently announced that Ross will be on NXT TakeOver: Chicago calling the UK Championship match between Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne. There are also rumors of JR helping out at the Performance Center. Considering the recent heartbreaking news of his wife Jan Ross passing away in a car accident, it may be a nice escape to return to his professional home to work with the company he is most known for being a part of.
6 WWE Paying Mauro Ranallo To Stay Quiet About JBL
One commentator that is departing from WWE is Mauro Ranallo. The highly accomplished broadcaster was signed to call SmackDown Live until drama unfolded with fellow announcer JBL. Ranallo disappeared from television with the news being reported that his mental illness issues got worse thanks to bullying of JBL. The story caught on with major networks and online outlets reporting the history of JBL bullying other co-workers with no punishment.
WWE allegedly reached a buyout agreement with Ranallo to end their time without things getting worse. Mauro is already calling boxing events and has stated he plans to continue his wrestling broadcasting career in the very near future. The news reports to follow have implied that WWE paid off Ranallo and allowed him to start calling other events in exchange for not talking about JBL or the company in a negative light to cool down the story.
5 Baron Corbin Being Groomed For WWE Championship
Many fans were surprised when it was revealed that Jinder Mahal was the new top contender to challenge Randy Orton for the WWE Championship instead of Baron Corbin. WWE didn’t want to waste a Corbin title shot on a smaller show like Backlash and apparently have something bigger planned down the line. Wrestling insider Dave Meltzer stated that WWE actually views Corbin as a bigger future star than Braun Strowman and we all see how hard the latter is being pushed.
Corbin’s push is a bit more of a patient one. WWE definitely wants him to become the top heel in the company and they're grooming him for a WWE Championship reign within the next year. It could come as soon as this summer if they decide Corbin is the one to end Orton’s reign at Summerslam. Corbin is going to be holding gold sooner than later.
4 John Cena Returning In July
A holiday falling on a Tuesday may lead to John Cena having an elaborate return on SmackDown Live. Independence Day will be on a Tuesday and Cena returning to show his patriotism could be the draw they use to try to bring in extra viewers. Ratings have gone down following WrestleMania 33 with the loss of Cena taking off with his part-time schedule still giving him months at a time off.
There is no official news or any rumors yet about who exactly Cena will be feuding with when he returns. The plan would see him back in time for a big match at Summerslam. We could see him go for the title against Randy Orton or face someone new like Baron Corbin. Regardless of who he faces, Cena returning to WWE is great news for Summerslam.
3 WWE Won't Bring Back Paige
Paige is still rehabbing her neck injury following surgery and is expecting to return to WWE when cleared. WWE however doesn’t see the situation the same. The recent news reports following the leak of Paige’s intercourse tape and pictures stated that WWE has no plans to bring her back on television any time soon. They're currently looking to let her contract expire without negotiating a new deal.
The main reason WWE won’t outright fire Paige is due to The Rock’s film company making a movie about her life and her family. If the movie turns into a success, WWE may change their tune and start using Paige again as a member of the Women’s Division. It's hard to forecast a story like that turning into a hit movie meaning we have likely seen her final match in a WWE ring.
2 Brock Lesnar Against Roman Reigns At WrestleMania 34
The long term plan for WrestleMania 34 has already been set backstage by Vince McMahon. Brock Lesnar winning the Universal Championship despite being a part-time wrestler was done all to benefit Roman Reigns in a year. McMahon wants Reigns to be the one to end a year-long reign by Reigns on the biggest stage in New Orleans.
Fans are already growing tired of both the never-ending Roman push and the championship not being defended frequently. Lesnar is expected to wrestle on a handful of PPVs until then easily defeating the other top stars on Raw. The entire plan is once again meant to make Reigns look as strong as possible with yet another moment of ascension as the face of WWE. We can expect lots of jeers and a hostile environment for this match unless plans change.
1 The Undertaker: 2018 Hall of Fame
Another plan already being finalized for WrestleMania 34 weekend is The Undertaker being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Undertaker likely retiring after losing to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33 means WWE wants to honor him as soon as possible. Most of the wrestling legends of the 90s have been honored at the Hall of Fame but Undertaker was one of the final names still active.
The fact that New Orleans is home of Undertaker’s streak ending may make it more fitting that he breaks character for the first time to give his speech. Vince McMahon being the man to induct Undertaker is a safe bet given how close they are. There is no bigger name left to induct into the WWE Hall of Fame than Undertaker and all reports suggest it will happen next year.