Features

Top 10 Wrestling Stories of the Week 4/17: Multiple WWE Employees Released, The Fink Passes Away, “Essential” WWE, More

Welcome back TJR readers, did you don a hazmat suit and go to Walmart instead of watching Smackdown? Perhaps you spent all day Monday trying to figure out what is considered essential, and missed RAW. Worry not, for I have returned with another edition of The Top Ten Wrestling Stories of the Week to catch you up.

10. Zelina Vega Leads a New Stable

It appears that Zelina Vega will be managing a new stable of wrestlers on Monday Night RAW. United States Champion Andrade returned from suspension on RAW this week and helped Angel Garza and Austin Theory beat down both Akira Tozawa and Tehuti Miles. Vega’s Dream Cast of wrestlers is yet to have a name, but this could be the Genesis of something amazing. (TJRWrestling)

9. Timothy Thatcher and Killer Kross Debut on NXT

Two big debuts occurred on NXT this week. With Pete Dunne being stuck in the UK due to the current health crisis, Matt Riddle needed a new partner for his NXT Tag Title defense against The Undisputed Era. Former Evolve Champion Timothy Thatcher took Dunne’s place in the match, defeating The Undisputed Era with Riddle. Later in the evening, Tommaso Ciampa was giving a backstage promo when he was suddenly attacked. A long shiny boot appeared on screen followed by former Impact star Killer Kross (with Karrion Kross as his new WWE name), who got into Ciampa’s face and told him “tick tock.” The owner of the shiny boot was never revealed, but is believed to be Kross’s real-life girlfriend Scarlett Bordeaux. Bordeaux will most likely be in Kross’s corner until she is forced to leave him to go make out with Bobby Lashley. (WWE)

8. Ronda Rousey Calls Wrestling “Fake Fighting” Blames Fans for Departure

Ronda Rousey gave an interview this week, where she stated that “Running out there and having fake fights for fun is just the best thing.” Rousey then went on to explain that the reason she left the WWE was that she was sick of leaving her family to perform for: “A bunch of f*cking ungrateful fans that don’t appreciate me.” These statements, of course, got the attention of much of the wrestling world, including Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss who both chastised her for the comments. With anything in the wrestling world the question of ‘Is this all a work?’ has to be considered, with Rousey potentially planning to return to WWE in a heel role. No matter if this is a “work” or a “shoot” it is obvious that Rousey truly doesn’t care about her bad reputation. (TJRWrestling)

https://twitter.com/niajaxwwe/status/1249081490408865795?s=21

7. The Revival Released From WWE

The Revival was finally granted their release this past week from the WWE, after asking for several months. The Revival was granted an “immediate release” meaning they do not have to wait the standard 90 days to start working for another company. Although not official, it is highly rumored that The Revival will be joining the already stacked AEW tag division very shortly. Losing one of the top tag teams in the world to the competition could, without question, cause WWE to be Fretting Their Release. (TJRWrestling)

6. Money in the Bank Qualifying Matches Begin

With Money in the Bank scheduled for May 10th, WWE began having qualifying matches for the two MITB ladder matches. On the women’s side, Asuka, Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax all qualified on RAW this week. This week on Smackdown, Dana Brooke vs. Naomi will face off in a qualifying match, with two more qualifying matches likely taking place in the future. On the men’s side, Daniel Bryan and Cesaro are meeting in a qualifying match on Smackdown this week. Meanwhile on Raw next week, Rey Mysterio vs. Murphy, Aleister Black vs. Austin Theory and Apollo Crews vs. MVP will also meet in qualifying matches. Whoever is victorious in these matches will get to carry around the MITB briefcase every week before they cash it in, attempting to look half as cool as this guy when they do it. (TJRWrestling)

5. Both Drew McIntyre and Braun Strowman Get New Challengers

It seemingly was decided this week who will be the first challengers for Braun Strowman and Drew McIntyre. After Universal Champion Braun Strowman defeated Shinsuke Nakamura on Smackdown, Bray Wyatt appeared on the screen. Wyatt stated that Strowman turned his back on him (and the Wyatt Family), and that he now wants his Universal Championship back. On this week’s RAW, WWE Heavyweight Champion Drew McIntyre easily defeated Andrade in the main event. After the match, Seth Rollins came down to the ring and attacked McIntyre. Strowman vs. Wyatt and McIntyre vs. Rollins will most likely now be the top title matches at Money in the Bank on May 10th, which means I now know what my wife is getting for Mother’s Day. (TJRWrestling)

4. WWE Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

The Coronavirus has officially infected a member of the WWE community. An unnamed WWE employee, who is not a wrestler, tested positive for the Coronavirus. It is believed that this employee was a low-risk to WWE talent and staff, as he became symptomatic in the days following having dinner with two people working in the health care industry on the evening of March 26. This occurred after the WWE TV tapings, which was the last time this employee was in contact with any WWE staff. This serves as a stark reminder of the risk that everyone involved with producing WWE television is taking on a weekly basis right now. Finding any humor in this story would be impossible as well as inappropriate so here is a tweet of a cute kitten to hopefully lighten the mood. (TJRWrestling)

https://twitter.com/cats_fuzzy/status/1247875864127250438?s=21

3. WWE Hall of Famer Howard Finkel Passes Away

The wrestling world lost a true legend this week. Long time announcer and WWE Hall of Famer Howard Finkel passed away yesterday at the age of 69. “The Fink” was one of the most recognizable voices in wrestling for over two decades, announcing many new world champions along the way. Without question in the wrestling world, Howard Finkel will be remembered FORRREVVERR. (TJRWrestling)

2. WWE Returns to Live TV Tapings

Just last week it was reported that WWE planned to tape enough content this week to get them to the middle of next month. As we all know though, “Plans change, pal.” The state of Florida this week deemed all live sports “essential business” paving the way for WWE to return to weekly live television. The shows will continue to have no fans present, and WWE still must limit the number of personnel they have inside the building. Personally, this news made me very happy, as my wife can no longer nag me for ignoring her to watch wrestling as it is now “essential.” (TJRWrestling)

1. WWE Releases a Large Number of Employees

I would like nothing more than to end this article on a light happy note, but unfortunately, that will not be the case this week. Due to the health crisis that is devastating the entire world right now, WWE was forced to either release or furlough a large number of employees this week. As of this writing 18 WWE superstars, 4 NXT superstars and one referee (the great Mike Chioda) have been let go. Along with these on-screen talents, possibly as many as several hundred other employees, including 10 WWE producers, have either been released or furloughed. Seeing so many people’s dreams cut short due to no fault of their own is unquestionably heartbreaking. Hopefully all of these men and women can overcome this and return to doing what they love once this nightmare is finally behind us. (TJRWrestling)

https://twitter.com/wwemaverick/status/1250493936185102339?s=21

That will conclude another edition of The Top Ten Wrestling Stories of the Week. As always, if you like what I do, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter @BackseatBookers and listen to my podcast The BackseatBookers (please be aware that it is explicit as no face mask can muffle my f-bombs.)