Hello and welcome to the WrestleTalk Super
News – I’m Oli Davis. Poke the thumbs up button in the eye, and
hit the subscribe one with a chair when the referee is conveniently distracted.
When All Elite Wrestling officially announced itself at the start of this year, it seemed
the wrestling world was about to form a mega-faction against WWE’s decades-long resthold-through-a-commercial-break
over the industry. Surely the new promotion would team up with the second most financially
successful wrestling company in the world after WWE – and arguably the artform’s leader
– New Japan Pro Wrestling. Problem was, AEW took four of New Japan’s
biggest stars, gutting their biggest faction, the Bullet Club, Understandably leaving New
Japan a bit miffed – with Dave Meltzer reporting back in July that AEW was a “taboo” subject
backstage in New Japan, and the relationship was “fractured”.
And it’s not just the bad feels between the two sides that’s stopping them from
working together, but also the global wrestling chessboard’s historic alliances and rivalries
– with New Japan’s longstanding working relationships with Ring Of Honor and CMLL,
which are direct competitors with AEW and AEW’s Mexican partner promotion AAA respectively.
But that hasn’t stopped two of AEW’s highest profile stars in Jon Moxley and Chris Jericho
wrestling for New Japan this year – with Jericho, the AEW champion, set to fight Hiroshi Tanahashi
at next month’s WrestleKingdom. Nevertheless, Nick Jackson of the Young Bucks tweeted about
the potential relationship: “it’s really not happening. Been asked this thousands of
times and telling the truth is always best. Don’t want fans holding onto something that
has zero chance of happening.” Which is exactly what a co-executive vice
president of a wrestling promotion trying to cover up a larger working relationship
with another wrestling promotion would say! New Japan and AEW working together confirmed
– which New Japan big boss President man Harold Meij has potentially foreshadowed in an interview
with Fox Sports: “We’re very open to working with anyone, we
don’t exclude anyone. But it does take time to create that trust between companies…
We’ll have to see if that brand fits our brand of course. At this stage, they still have
different styles than we do, and that’s the only thing. We’re looking at what their brand
positioning is and whether it complements ours.”
If Orange Cassidy doesn’t scream hard-hitting New Japan strong style, I don’t know what
does! Do you want to see AEW and New Japan work
together and why? Let me know in the comments because I’ll be replying FROM OUTTA NOWHERE
for the first 30 minutes after this video goes live!
But then Meij went onto say that New Japan is there “for the long run with partners
that we tie up with.” Meaning their current US-exclusive wrestling BFFs Ring of Honor.
Put the bubbly on ice, Luke. And while you’re at it, order 10,000 more Jericho-branded bottles
for the Christmas party. Following AEW Le Champion Chris Jericho announcing
that his own brand of sparkling wine was now on sale at last Wednesday’s episode of Dynamite,
he’s revealed on Instagram how that product launch went.
“Unbelievable to hear that #ALittleBitOfTheBubbly sold 10,000 bottles in just over 2 days! The
demand was so crazy that you crashed 19 servers on the Bubbly website!! Thanks to all of you
who wanted to be a part of this libation sensation…Order yours now at littlebitofthebubbly.com! (link
in bio) #LeChampion” Because AEW are far more than just a t-shirt
company. They’re also a novelty wine company. Man, wrestling fans will buy anything. Did
I mention we here at WrestleTalk launched our brand new WrestleTalkMerch.com shop last
Friday with brand new designs including WrestleTalk classics, presenter logos and our very cool
Foreign Objects line with little wrestling weapons on the left pec drawn by our amazing
fan @luckyrabbitrobb on Instagram! Please buy some.
And because ‘tis the season of consumerism’, maybe treat yourself to a ridiculously expensive
Fiend-specific WWE Universal championship belt!
Last week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter revealed Bray Wyatt’s Fiend is the number
1 merchandise seller in the company – with Hurt & Heal Gloves, Firefly Fun House puppets,
and at some live events, Bray Wyatt head replica lanterns. As Kenner toy development executive
Bernard Loomis famously once said about Star Wars, it’s a toyetic franchise. What Bray
has created with such a rich and fascinating lore around the Fiend, is a merchetic wrestling
gimmick. And true to form, WWE are immediately going
to run that well dry and make as much merch as possible did I mention we’ve got new
t-shirts too. Rather ingeniously, on Friday’s episode
of SmackDown, Bray said that he has his Blueniversal title, so it’s only fair that his Fiend
alter-ego gets his own design too: The Fiend’s face stretched across a belt as though it’s
made of human skin. And that can be yours for the small price
of $6,499.99. To be fair to that very highly priced product,
the belt is a limited run collector’s edition and is handcrafted by the studio of famed
horror special effects maestro Tom Savini. I guess I’ll have to make do with the far
more terrifying Paige Here variant. Thanks to Harrison Berry for emailing that in!
But Bray isn’t just responsible for letting the Fiend into WWE… he also kind of made
Woken Matt Hardy happen too. After being one of the hottest acts in wrestling
through 2016 and 17 with his insane Broken Universe gimmick, developing a cult following
at Impact Wrestling, where he received almost complete creative freedom, getting entire
TV episodes devoted to his vision, Matt Hardy left the promotion because of contract renegotiations
falling through, had one fantastic ladder match against the Young Bucks in Ring of Honor,
then made his WWE return with his brother Jeff at WrestleMania 33.
They did so as the Hardy Boyz gimmick, one that was already about 15 years out of date,
and the nostalgia pop quickly wore off despite them holding the tag team championships. The
brothers were split up with Jeff getting a singles push, leaving Matt to finally create
a WWE version of his Broken character – Woken Matt Hardy.
Unfortunately, despite being critically well-received in a WWE Network House Hardy special and an
Ultimate Deletion segment on Raw, the promotion never seemed to truly believe in the gimmick.
Which is totally understandable, as it’s a very divisive act, and potentially could
turn off part of the mainstream audience. But perhaps seeing how his former Deletors
of Worlds tag partner Bray has found so much success with creative freedom over his own
rather wacky character – Matt is reportedly clashing with WWE officials over his contract
renegotiations. According to PWInsider, after signing a two
year deal back in 2017, which was extended another year by WWE before WrestleMania 35,
Matt’s deal will now expire in February 2020 – but “While the two sides have been
in discussions, [PWInsider is] told that how Hardy will be used going forward has been
the biggest sticking point in negotiations.” Apparently Hardy and WWE aren’t that “far
apart on financial considerations” – meaning WWE have probably offered him a load of money
like they are everyone else out of fear talent will go to AEW – but they won’t commit to
using him consistently on TV. An idea that was very clear last Monday, when Matt made
his onscreen return to WWE from outta nowhere – i.e. unannounced – to lose in a squash match
to Buddy Murphy while dressed as the late 90s. And that could push him to WWE’s biggest
competitor… PWInsider also notes that Matt realises this
could be one of the last contracts he ever signs, given that he’s just turned 45 and
how he almost retired last year because of injury. With WWE looking to sign most people
for five year deals – like the recent contracts announced for The Miz, Paige and Randy Orton,
that would keep Matt in the promotion until he’s 50, which would likely mean the end
of his in-ring career. Given Matt’s history with the Bucks, how
AEW have given their wrestlers significant creative freedom, and that they’re really
the only other promotion in the US that can match WWE’s money offer, the educated guess
would be Hardy takes his Broken gimmick there if he can’t reach an agreement with Vince
McMahon. An educated guess that Matt himself has been
keen to tease, launching his new YouTube series ‘Free the Delete’ last month, an obvious
play on the Young Bucks’ long-running show Being the Elite – which PWInsider claim is
a way to reintroduce his Broken Matt character, a gimmick he smartly retained the rights to
when returning to WWE. “[Matt] is planning ahead by using YouTube
and social media to prepare for his potential return to the independent scene and beyond,
obviously, as “Broken” Matt, a persona that he’s had phenomenal success with, both from
a creative and a merchandise standpoint.” And nowhere is that more obvious than in his
latest Free the Delete episode, which begins with the voiceover:
“Gotta get in shape, gotta build a reservoir, gotta be a dad. No time, no direction. 13
weeks…” 13 weeks from the date of upload just so happens
to be the end of February, where PWInsider report Matt’s WWE contract expires.
One spanner in the wrestling work, however, is that episode also appears to set up a feud
with Bray Wyatt – as a lady voice whispers ‘Let Me In’, while the background piano
music sounds like a rendition of Bray’s Broken Out In Love theme tune. A main event
feud over the Universal Champions for Hardy, however, is sadly very unlikely given WWE’s
treatment of Matt over the last two years. It’s far more possible the Wyatt references
are just a continuation of the last time we saw the Lake of Reincarnation, where Matt
used it to rid Wyatt of the Sister Abigail spirit during the Ultimate Deletion segment
on Raw. Matt has also tweeted over the last few days:
“ALWAYS MOVE FORWARD” and “Considering I’m in a very secure place in my life, being
creatively fulfilled & pushing the business forward is very important to me now.”
Where do you think Matt Hardy will end up? Vote in the poll above my head!
Season 3 of our fantasy wrestling predictions league WrestleLeague – available to participate
in for all $5 a month of more Pledgehammers on Patreon! – controversially concluded at
Survivor Series last week which saw Chopper Pete lose the office rankings, meaning he
has to do a music video punishment. And thanks to your suggestions and votes,
the result is… Tyler Breeze’s #MMMGorgeous with a massive 53% of the Question on a Poll
match! Chopper’s off this week, so we’ll get
that made next week, and we’ll make him do loads of embarrassing things he really
doesn’t want to do. Three big stars returned on last Friday’s
SmackDown! Find out in our review by clicking the video on the right! And we’ve got merch!
Watch our super artistic advert #ThankYouJaden by clicking the video below that.
I’ve been Oli Davis, and that was wrestling.