For fans who watch WWE programming on the regular, it’s easy enough to pick up on major trends of what might be going on behind the scenes. Roman Reigns has been featured prominently enough, long enough—including the last three WrestleManias that you can easily enough deduce that WWE’s selected him as the face of the company. Observe Baron Corbin blowing his Money in the Bank opportunity, then dropping a high profile match to John Cena and you can figure out that he might be in the doghouse with WWE management.
But there are a lot of details that aren’t public. While there’s cause for speculation, a lot of what folks believe about WWE comes down to rumors—some with a kernel of truth, some more imagination than reality.
Part of the fun of rumors is the speculation that goes with them, and, for the wrestling world in particular, is the increasing promise that we probably will get to the truth of the matter at some point now that podcasts and tell-all books are such routine parts of the business. In the meantime, we’re left to wornder.
While some rumors are benign, some are far more interesting and can go so far as to change the way that you watch the WWE product and what you think of any number of top stars. This article takes a look at 15 WWE rumors that have come out in recent weeks and months that just might affect your view of the entire company.
15 15. Baron Corbin Got Punished For Speaking Out Against A Concussion Specialist
As mentioned in the intro, after being pushed as a solid upper mid-carder, and then winning the Money in the Bank briefcase that looked to promise him entry to the main event scene, Baron Corbin has hit a rough patch. This isn’t just the semi-regular Mr.-Money-in-the-Bank-can-whether-some-losses angle. On the contrary he lost the briefcase itself in an ill-advised cash in, then lost what could be viewed as his revenge match against John Cena who had distracted him from his big opportunity.
Rumors abounded about Corbin’s social media presence hurting him in the eyes of management and that may be true, but rumors have since spread that the issue had more to do with the way he reacted to a visiting concussion specialist WWE brought in to talk to talent. During a seminar, Corbin purportedly interrupted and brought up a personal beef with some of the expert’s previous work, sidetracking the educational effort and antagonizing the professional guest. WWE’s reaction, if there truly is a correlation, shows a commitment to safety around head injuries and that they do not view Corbin as in any way above corporate initiatives.
14 14. Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar Will Headline WrestleMania Again
Ever since Brock Lesnar won the Universal Championship from Goldberg, and Roman Reigns defeated (and apparently retired) The Undertaker at WrestleMania 33, rumors have flown about Reigns-Lesnar headlining WrestleMania 34. It would be a rematch from their WrestleMania 31 showdown that featured the unexpected conclusion of Seth Rollins crashing the party via Money in the Bank cash-in.
If this rumor is true, it’s interesting to see how WWE sees itself in more or less the same position as three years ago, still positioning Lesnar as the dominant monster heel champion, and still grasping at getting Reigns over at the highest level, and using ‘Mania and a victory over Lesnar to get the job done. Last time, Rollins winning seemed like WWE calling an audible and recognizing Reigns may well get booed out of the stadium. It’s unclear if the company really expects anything different to happen in 2018.
13 13. Big Cass Has Locker Room Heat For His Political Views
Big Cass got a decent push coming out of his tag team with Enzo Amore and a heel turn. He beat his former partner soundly then beat The Big Show at SummerSlam. Though he’s out due to injury now, his size and personality seem to have gotten Cass over with the powers that be.
Rumors came out over the summer, however, that Cass was unpopular with colleagues because of his outspoken support of President Donald Trump, in contrast to the locker room majority that aren’t fans of him. If this rumor is true, it reveals a couple interesting tidbits. First of all, the locker room, traditionally viewed to skew conservative in alignment with its leadership and the traditional fan base, may have taken on a different political orientation. Secondarily, it reveals a disconnect between locker room views and management decisions—that even if someone isn’t popular with the boys, it doesn’t mean their kayfabe momentum will necessarily get derailed.
12 12. WWE Isn’t Interested In The Broken Hardys
The Hardy Boyz have remained in good shape and have continued to perform at a high level over the course of nearly two decades in the spotlight. It’s little surprise WWE would want to bring back an act like that. However, in recent years, the brothers also struck gold with their strange, offbeat Broken gimmick that saw them behave eccentrically and incorporate bits of magic in their personas.
The gimmick got wildly over in TNA and on the indies to the point that when the Hardys did come back, they weren’t just an over nostalgia act, but arguably the most electric free agents in the wrestling world who had fans positively buzzing when they first re-entered the WWE Universe. However, noticeably missing from the act was their Broken gimmick as they looked like nothing other than the Hardys of old, aside from a streak of white in Matt’s hair and the occasional “Delete!” chant.
While some fans have been surprised that the gimmick has gone missing, and others have theorized that WWE is only building to its own version of it, a third possibility has been heavily rumored as well—that WWE doesn’t care about the Broken Universe. To be fair, the Broken gimmick is pretty outside the box for WWE’s relatively mainstream sensibilities, and had a tendency to take over the show for TNA in ways WWE management may not be interested in.
Nonetheless, such a choice might read like WWE using the Hardys more to take their Broken personas from indies and competitors, rather than using the brothers to their full potential in WWE itself.
11 11. Shane McMahon Keeps Wrestling Because Vince Considers Him A Big Draw
There’s little mistaking that WWE is building a feud between Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens. That story was clear in the build to and execution of SummerSlam. McMahon played the guest referee for Owens vs. AJ Styles for the U.S. Championship and took his share of bumps. In the weeks to follow, the two have gotten more heated, and then more physical with each other.
SmackDown’s next PPV is Hell in a Cell this October and Shane vs. Owens have been booked to compete in the cell. Reports have begun to surface that the reason Vince keeps booking Shane to wrestle is that he sees his son as a big draw. He credits him with boosting ticket sales back at WrestleMania 32 for his match with The Undertaker. Shane is under contract as a performer for an annual salary of $1.5 million. He's obliged to wrestle two matches and Vince sees him as worth every penny.
10 10. Dean Ambrose Has Gotten Lazy
When The Shield first showed up in WWE, Dean Ambrose looked like the de facto leader of the group, as its most outspoken member and the first one to get a run with a singles title. Ambrose hasn’t been pushed as strongly has his compatriots since, though, peaking with a few-month reign as WWE Champion, after which he slipped down to the mid-card.
The prevailing rumor as to why that’s the case is that Ambrose is seen as lazy—an uninspired worker who’s over in spite of his lack of effort. Steve Austin added some credence to this theory when he called out Ambrose for not showing enough fire on WWE Network-televised version of his podcast. This might explain why Ambrose been locked into mid-card title feuds, and more recently the tag scene for these past few months.
9 9. Daniel Bryan Is Training For An In-Ring Return
When Daniel Bryan announced his retirement on an episode of Raw, it sounded like a final decision. Upon re-splitting brands, WWE cast him as the General Manager of SmackDown, which seemed like another step toward WWE cementing him as a non-wrestling legend figure. However, when he had a verbal altercation with The Miz on Talking Smack signs pointed toward WWE possibly building toward Bryan coming back to face him in the ring.
That never materialized, and it seems as though, if anything, WWE didn’t like the red herring that the men involved seem to have been more responsible for than WWE itself. Just the same, Bryan has spoken in a few interviews, including his stop by Edge and Christian’s podcast, to say that he is looking into coming back based on new information about the nature of the head injuries that he retired over. It will be interesting to see if Bryan arrives at a crossroads with WWE at which point he and his doctors feel confident he can return, and if WWE holds fast he can’t. Not so unlike WWE not allowing Jerry Lawler to work a match again after his heart attack, this may be a case of WWE looking out for liability and what public perception would be like if something catastrophic happened, over a performer’s wishes.
8 8. Sin Cara Has Anger Issues
Since the original Sin Cara left, and the former evil Sin Cara and Hunico took over the role, the luchador character has had a lower profile role in WWE programming. Some of that’s a matter of the talent at hand, and it no longer being an international superstar playing the gimmick. It’s also purportedly a matter of the worker having anger issues.
Within a brief period of time Sin Cara purportedly got into an altercations with Simon Gotch, Sheamus, and finally Chris Jericho, which landed him in anger management classes. WWE’s reaction here is particularly interesting as the behavior may have gotten Sin Cara released, or at least suspended previously, but in this case they seem to be taking a more supportive approach. Maybe that’s a legal matter, or a shift in corporate philosophy. Of course, after the original Sin Cara’s issues and Alberto Del Rio leaving the company on such bad terms, it may also be a political move not to send another Latino performer away on bad terms.
7 7. Everybody Hates Enzo Amore
It has become a wide spread rumor that Enzo Amore is hated by the locker room and management. Amore purportedly is seen as annoying in general—not so different from the character he plays on TV. On top of that, though, he reportedly got into hotter water for bragging about how much money he makes and how much power he has. All of the backstage heat allegedly culminated in Roman Reigns kicking him off of a tour bus.
Among the consequences of Amore’s heat? Getting split up from Cass, and then losing to his partner decisively in their first match. You can follow that up with him being booked in a shark tank suspended above the ring for Cass’s match with The Big Show. It’s widely rumored the choices was a direct result of Amore’s real life fear of heights, and WWE indirectly punishing/ribbing him based on that fear.
6 6. The John Cena-Roman Reigns Rivalry Is Actually Heavily Scripted
In an unexpected turn, WWE booked a John Cena-Roman Reigns program this fall. Many fans anticipated this match would happen, but anticipated it would be saved for a WrestleMania dream match, rather than first occurring in a traditionally B-level PPV like No Mercy.
The way the angle has been booked, it’s not a traditional set of two good guys respecting one another and putting each other over at every turn. On the contrary, Cena has been vocal about Reigns being overrated and not over with the fans, while Reigns has fired back about Cena being all talk and needing to step aside. A lot of their trash talk has challenged the fourth wall, leading fans to wonder if either man went off script to express real animosity.
While it’s been suggested each man has ad-libbed a few barbs, rumor also has it that the feud and its key dialogue have been carefully scripted to look like shooting. If the rumors are true, it suggests WWE is very much in tune with its fan base’s criticisms of these two top stars. It also, however, suggests the company may not completely trust them—particularly the less proven Reigns—to make an angle like this work without having his lines written out for him.
5 5. The Big Show Is Retiring
The Big Show has been a major presence in wrestling for over two decades now. Rumors swirled going into WrestleMania 33 that he’d wrestle Shaquille O’Neal, and that the match might be at least his ‘Mania swan song. While that particular celebrity dream match never materialized, it does nonetheless look like Show might be winding down. He’s already had tremendous longevity and his tour of working with, and mostly putting over Braun Strowman has felt a lot like passing the giant torch to the lead big man of the next generation.
Show is reportedly out for surgery now and there are a lot of questions about whether he’ll come back at all, or if he does, if it will be for a farewell tour and perhaps one last highly touted match to celebrate his legacy and put someone else over big on his way out the door.
4 4. Vince McMahon Isn’t A Sasha Banks Fan
Amidst the Alexa Bliss-Sasha Banks rivalry, Bliss rightfully pointed out that for Banks being a multi-time Raw Women’s Championship she’s never actually successfully defended the title, dropping it repeatedly right back to Charlotte Flair during their 2016 title feud, and then losing it right back to Bliss after having won it from her.
Rumor has it that the reason for Banks’ un-sustained success is that Vince McMahon doesn’t really see her as a top star, in particular going back to his old philosophy that smaller stars are frailer and more injury prone, and thus not to be trusted on top. Clearly, McMahon and the powers that be recognize some value in Banks for her to have had so many title opportunities and four brief reigns in the last year. Just the same, maybe there is something to the theory given Banks’s inability to hold onto the title.
3 3. Jinder Mahal Is Only Champion To Appeal To Fan Base In India
Jinder Mahal rose from a lower mid card guy to world champion very, very quickly and with next to no transition. After returning to WWE, he mostly lost to bigger stars on Raw. Surviving to the late stages of the Andre the Giante Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 33 was his first nudge toward being more of an upper mid-card player, before he hopped to Smackdown and was the unexpected winner of a number one contender battle royal. All of a sudden he was main eventing opposite Randy Orton, and actually captured the WWE Championship.
It’s widely rumored that Mahal’s big push was a direct result of WWE’s recent business expansion into India and trying to appeal more to the audience there. On one hand, this suggests WWE taking a turn in its business interests, allowing commerce to dictate creative direction. Of course, there’s an argument WWE has always operated that way, and pushing Mahal to appeal to India is little different from pushing Bruno Sammartino to appeal to Italian-Americans in New York decades ago.
2 2. A Horsewomen Vs. Horsewomen Match May Headline Survivor Series
The Mae Young Classic has reportedly been a major success for the WWE Network. Out of it, Shayna Baszler has emerged as a credible threat for whatever women’s division WWE opts to plug her into, while Ronda Rousey’s recurring appearances laid the groundwork for her to potentially step in the ring. The rumors went into overdrive in a confrontation at the tournament, through which Rousey explicitly told wrestling’s Four Horsewomen—Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Becky Lynch—that they could name the time and place to face off with MMA’s Four Horsewomen—Rousey, Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, and Marina Shafir.
Survivor Series, with its traditional four-on-four or five-on-five team matches seems like a natural place for the match to come to fruition. Given Rousey’s star power, and given the increased prominence WWE has allowed its women, including their first PPV main event last fall, featuring two of their own Horsewomen, it’s not out of the question this match could headline a big four PPV.
1 1. There’s Real Heat Within The McMahon Family
When Shane McMahon left WWE, it was widely rumored that at least a part of that decision came down to him reading the writing on the wall. The rumor goes that he could see Stephanie and Triple H were the heirs to the WWE empire, and Shane would at best have a supporting role beneath them. When he came back, more rumors swirled that Vince was consciously stirring up competition among the younger generation to strive for even more. Rumors also suggested Stephanie and Triple H weren’t happy to see Shane back, and that Shane, despite officially only returning as an on-screen character, would likely as not maneuver back into a position of political power.
Shane didn’t exactly defuse the rumors when he did a shoot interview with Mick Foley for the WWE Network, and was cagey in talking about his thoughts on Triple H marrying his sister. While he didn’t speak out against his brother in law, he also didn’t mask that he didn’t approve of the situation in at least the early going of their relationship. If these rumors are true, things could get very interesting in the decade ahead. While Vince is a notorious workaholic, now that he’s 72, you have to believe he might pass the torch sooner than later.
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