This Week in WWE Newsletter and YouTube Show

This Week in WWE
March 25th, 2018

  1. WWE Clears Daniel Bryan to Wrestle
    1. Comments Bryan made on E&C podcast last year
  2. AJ Styles Injury Worries
  3. The Ultimate Deletion
  4. Complete WWE Championship Landscape Breakdown
  5. WrestleMania Card
  6. NXT Championship Landscape
  7. The Greatest Royal Rumble
  8. Triple H on the State of 205 Live
  9. Hulk Hogan
    1. Mark Henry Comments
  10. Results
    1. Raw
    2. Smackdown
    3. Mixed Match Challenge
    4. 205 Live
    5. NXT

WWE Medically Clears Daniel Bryan to Wrestle

In what is arguably the biggest story in the 2 years since he retired, Daniel Bryan was given his medical clearance to wrestle by WWE on Tuesday.

WWE’s doctors had previously been hesitant to clear Bryan for a return to in-ring action due to his documented history with concussions. Bryan opened up about his attempts to get WWE to clear him on the E&C podcast last year. He mentioned WWE’s doctors did not want to clear him because of his 10 documented concussions and 4 incidents of post-concussion seizures.

Bryan was recently evaluated by leading expert in the field of concussion research, Dr. Robert Cantu.

“I determined that Bryan is currently asymptomatic, has a normal detailed neurological and cognitive neuropsychological examination, normal EEG, and an MRI that showed no definite evidence of a prior brain injury. It is my medical opinion that there is no absolute contraindication to his return to in-ring action in WWE.” – Neurosurgeon Dr Robert Cantu

Daniel Bryan on the E&C Podcast

Bryan’s own doctors had cleared him to return to wrestling but WWE’s doctors would not. Further comments Bryan made on the Edge and Christian podcast reveal more of his discussions with his doctors. He tells this story of the conversation he had with his doctor after publicly announcing his retirement. Bryan had just done a test that found a lesion on his brain. This was the test that led WWE to say they would no longer clear Bryan.

“All of a sudden, one of the doctors that had cleared me calls me and said, ‘Bryan, what happened? Like, you ran through all this testing and everything was fine. What happened?’ And I told him what had happened. I said, ‘they found a lesion on the temporal-parietal region of my brain.’ And he goes, ‘wait, hold up – a lesion?’ And I said, ‘yeah,’ and I don’t know what a ‘lesion’ means to you guys, but a lesion to me means you have a cut, right? Like I have a cut on my brain. And he goes, ‘no, a lesion in medical terminology is a very vague thing. It just says something is there, right? Like, we don’t know what it is, so we call it a lesion in the temporal-parietal region of your brain.”

Daniel Bryan Returns on Smackdown

So now it seems, Bryan is not as sure about the diagnosis as he once had been.

“My reflexes in the temporal-parietal region of my brain are slower than what they would expect, right? So in the report, they put ‘lesion on the temporal-parietal region of the brain.'” Bryan said, “they’re not slower than say your average person, but they’re slower than, like, your MMA athletes or people that they test for a lot of this kind of stuff, right? So I just have average reflect time and I’m just like, ‘oh no, I don’t think they understand I’m just an average person. I’m not a real athlete! There’s this thing and it’s just like, ‘oh no, there [has] been this huge misunderstanding,’ right?”

Just hours after WWE announced Bryan was cleared to return to action, he fired Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn from Smackdown. The duo attacked Bryan as they had done to Shane McMahon last week. Owens and Zayn have since turned their Twitter accounts private.

AJ Styles Injury Concerns

Another big story this week concerns AJ Styles, who is said to be dealing with an undisclosed (likely a leg) injury. At the WWE house show in Madison Square Garden over the weekend, a kayfabe injury angle was run to explain him being out of action. He did not wrestle on the Tuesday Smackdown show, though he would run in to help Shinsuke Nakamura fend off Aiden English and Rusev.

On a media call recently, Triple H said the company has a backup plan in case Styles is not able to compete at WrestleMania, however, this most likely will not be the case. Styles was added back to the house show schedule this weekend, although it is not clear if he will be wrestling or just making an appearance.

When asked, Styles said he would be at WrestleMania even if it was on one leg.

The Ultimate Deletion

The Ultimate Deletion aired as the main event of this week’s Monday Night Raw. Clips featuring moments from the Ultimate Deletion have topped more than 3 million views on YouTube.

Ronda Rousey and Dana Brooke’s untelevised segment from Raw Monday Night was the clear champion of social media this week, however. Their YouTube clip has been viewed over 6 million times.

In the actual Ultimate Deletion match, Hardy pinned Wyatt and then pushed him into the Lake of Reincarnation.

Reaction to the segment has generally been positive with even fans who had soured on the gimmick in WWE coming around. Mainstream news outlets, such as USA Today, picked up on the story as well, which I’m sure WWE appreciates.

Not long after the Ultimate Deletion aired, Hardy posted on his own YouTube account a short clip of him and Senor Benjamin discovering Bray Wyatt’s lantern in the lake.

Jeff Hardy also appeared at the end of the segment, which should confirm WWE will not be removing him from storyline due to his recent DUI arrest.

WWE Championship Landscape

WWE Universal Championship
Current Champion: Brock Lesnar
Defenses: 4
Including House Shows: 11

Brock Lesnar is scheduled to defend the title against Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 34.

WWE Championship
Current Champion: AJ Styles
Defenses (Current): 3
Defenses (All-Time): 8

AJ Styles is scheduled to defend the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania 34.

WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Current Champion: Alexa Bliss
Defenses (Current): 4 (35 w/house shows)
Defenses (All-Time): 8 (47 w/ house shows) (2x champ)

Alexa Bliss is scheduled to defend the title against Nia Jax at WrestleMania 34.

WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship
Current Champion: Charlotte Flair
Defenses: 3 (25 w/house shows)

Charlotte Flair is scheduled to defend the title against the winner of the 2018 Women’s Royal Rumble, Asuka.

WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Vacant

Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali will meet in the finals of the Cruiserweight Championship tournament at WrestleMania 34.

Raw Tag-Team Championships
Current Champions: the Bar
Defenses (current): 4 (16 w/ house shows)
Defenses (all-time): 9 (71 w/house shows) (4x champs)

Cesaro & Sheamus are set to defend their titles against Braun Strowman and an as of yet to be named partner at WrestleMania 34.

Smackdown Tag-Team Championships
Current Champions: the Usos
Defenses (current): 5 (47 w/house shows)
Defenses (all-Time): 9 (87 w/ house shows) (3x champs)

It’s not clear what will be up next for the Smackdown tag-team champions. The Bludgeon Brothers have been beating up everyone in the division. A title match at Fastlane between New Day and the Usos was broken up by Harper and Rowen. Possibly those 3 teams could face each other at WrestleMania but nothing has been announced.

Intercontinental Championship
Current Champion: The Miz
Defenses (current reign):  1 (3 w/house shows)
Defenses (all-time): 22 ( 92 w/house shows) (8x champ)

As of this writing, Miz is 34 days away from passing Pedro Morales for most combined days spent as Intercontinental Champion. He will defend the title against Finn Balor and Seth Rollins in a triple threat match at WrestleMania 34.

United States Championship
Current Champion: Randy Orton
Defenses: 0

Randy Orton won the United States championship for the first time in his career at Fastlane when he defeated Bobby Roode. After Jinder Mahal defeated Roode and Orton in successive weeks, he was added to the match scheduled for WrestleMania.

Orton is scheduled to defend the title in a triple threat match against Bobby Roode and Jinder Mahal at WrestleMania 34.

WrestleMania 34 Lineup

  1. Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
  2. WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal
  3. Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey vs Triple H & Stephanie McMahon
  4. Raw Tag Team Championships
    the Bar (c) vs. Braun Strowman & ???
  5. United States Championship
    Randy Orton (c) vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal
  6. Cruiserweight Championship 
    Mustafa Ali vs Cedric Alexander
  7. Intercontinental Championship
    The Miz (c) vs Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins
  8. Raw Women’s Championship
    Alexa Bliss (c) vs Nia Jax
  9. WWE Championship
    AJ Styles (c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura
  10. Smackdown Women’s Championship
    Charlotte Flair (c) vs Asuka
  11. WWE Universal Championship
    Brock Lesnar (c) vs Roman Reigns

A match involving Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn was booked last week for WrestleMania 34 by Shane McMahon. The match was officially removed from the WrestleMania lineup.

Other matches, potentially involving the Smackdown Tag-Team Championships, could be added later.

Complete NXT Championship Landscape

NXT Championship
Current Champion: Andrade “Cien” Almas
Defenses: 2 (9 w/ house shows)

Andrade “Cien” Almas is scheduled to defend his title against Aleister Black at Takeover: New Orleans.

NXT Women’s Championship
Current Champion: Ember Moon
Defenses: 3 (14 w/ house shows)

Ember Moon is scheduled to defend her title against Shayna Baszler at Takeover: New Orleans.

NXT Tag Team Championships
Current Champions: Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish (Undisputed Era)
Defenses: 2 (18  w/ house shows)

The most likely next challengers for the Undisputed Era’s titles are the team that wins the Dusty Rhodes Classic.

The Greatest Royal Rumble

The Greatest Royal Rumble is scheduled for April 27th, 2018 from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The deal is part of a 10-year agreement the company has signed with the Saudi Sports Authority. The deal is part of Saudi Vision 2030, a social and economic program designed to move the country away from a fossil fuel dependent economy.

Speaking to CBS Sports this week, Triple H mentioned the Greatest Royal Rumble deal came together quickly.

Triple H on the Greatest Royal Rumble:

“I think we are still kind of exploring the options on it,” Levesque said. “It’s a little bit of a work in progress. This event sort of came together very, very quickly. It’s three weeks after WrestleMania, which you can imagine putting on a week-long spectacle of that nature and following it up three weeks later in Saudi Arabia with a stadium show takes some logistic work.

“We are still working through the process, and I think you’ll see some announcements coming up here as we continue to get further in the card, what the show is and all of that. I think you’ll see announcements of the how, where and when.”

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler

What we know of the event so far is that it will feature a 50-person Royal Rumble match. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are believed to be doing commentary for the event, or at least that is what Lawler hinted at on a recent episode of his podcast. Earlier this week, WWE also announced that 7 championship matches would take place on the show in addition to the Rumble match itself. The championships WWE mentioned would be on the line are the 7 men’s titles. No female championships will be defended and there are currently no plans for female performers to take part in the show.

Roman Reigns announced on the Jim & Sam show this week that the event will air on the WWE Network. Taking place just 3 weeks after Mania, this event should play a significant role in WWE storyline directly after WM34.

Triple H on the State of 205 Live

Triple H recently spoke with PWInsider about the state of 205 Live. Following the departure of Enzo Amore from the company and show earlier this year, Triple H took over-booking of the brand. Vince McMahon had been playing a more hands-on role with 205 Live but that is no longer the case.

Since taking over, Triple H has instituted a single-elimination tournament to crown a new champion. The show has focussed more on in-ring stories as opposed to sports entertainment in recent weeks.

“Look, it went in a direction after the Cruiserweight Classic, it went in a direction that was believed to be the right direction, and then fans told us it wasn’t the right direction.”

Hunter continued to say they will stick with the approach they have been using for the brand as of late.

Triple H Quotes on 205 Live

So, we’ve changed course. They told us they didn’t like vanilla, so we went to chocolate. They told us, ‘we’re digging the chocolate right now’, so we’re going to stick with it and I think that’s the exciting part of, you know…the great thing is we can turn on a dime and we can deliver to people the things they want to see.

“Sometimes, it may take a little bit to get rolling. Sometimes, it might happen immediately. It just depends. I feel like we are heading in a good direction for 205 Live right now, NXT is firing on all cylinders. I think we’re gearing up to head into Wrestlemania season with a lot of guns blazing and it’s an exciting time.”

Hulk Hogan

Rumors began to swirl this week that talks had begun between Hulk Hogan and WWE. Hogan was excommunicated from the company following the leak of private audio recordings featuring Hogan making racially insensitive comments.

WWE released the following statement in regards to the rumors:

“We have had discussions with Terry Bollea (aka Hulk Hogan) about how he can help others learn from his mistakes, however, he is not under any contract with WWE.”

Mark Henry on Hulk Hogan

Mark Henry also recently appeared on the Busted Open radio show and made several comments about Hulk Hogan’s possible redemption. (Thanks to Cageside Seats for the transcription)

”There are leaked videos of the Andre story on HBO coming up, on the 29th is the opening in Los Angeles, and he’s in it. It’s kind of a deal where you have to accept it. He’s a public figure. It doesn’t mean that everything that he’s done is forgiven, you just gotta take the good with the bad and see how you could help the situation. I’m sitting on the chair of the delegation and they’re not ready. I’ve had many talks, with dozens of guys, and the consensus is there’s a lot of work to be done to heal that wound and to fix that wall.”

Henry commented further on the delegation he refers to above:

”The delegation is pretty much all of the more established African-American wrestlers in the country and in the world, for that matter. Every promotion… there’s not a wrestling promotion that doesn’t house someone from the delegation.”

And on what Hogan will have to do before he can be forgiven:

”There’s gonna have to be more community service and outside work. Support for programs and even creative programs that deal with diversity in the workplace. … I don’t process everything like everybody else. I believe that everybody should be given a second chance but I also believe that you have to own your issue, whatever that issue is. You gotta try to make closure on everybody else’s behalf, not just yours.”

Results & Rankings

Monday Night Raw
March 19th, 2018
American Airlines Arena
Dallas, TX

  1. Asuka defeated Alexa Bliss (w/ Mickie James) via count out
  2. Braun Strowman defeated Cesaro (w/ Sheamus)
  3. The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) defeated Titus Worldwide (Titus O’Neil & Apollo) (w/ Dana Brooke)
  4. Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose (w/ Paige) defeated Sasha Banks & Bayley
  5. Finn Bálor, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson defeated The Miz, Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel
  6. Ultimate Deletion Match
    Matt Hardy defeated Bray Wyatt

WWE Universal Champion: Brock Lesnar (4 title defenses)
Intercontinental Champion: the Miz (8x champion, 22 total title defenses, 1 this reign)

  1. Roman Reigns
  2. Braun Strowman
  3. Finn Balor
  4. Seth Rollins
  5. John Cena
  6. Elias
  7. Matt Hardy
  8. Bray Wyatt

Women’s Champion: Alexa Bliss (2x champion, 7 total title defenses, 4 this reign)

  1. Asuka
  2. Sasha Banks
  3. Bayley
  4. Nia Jax
  5. Mickie James
  6. Sonya Deville
  7. Mandy Rose
  8. Alicia Fox
  9. Dana Brooke

Raw Tag Team Division: the Bar  (4x champions, 9 total title defenses, 4 this reign)

  1. Braun Strowman & ???
  2. Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder (the Revival) (+1)
  3. Titus O’Neil & and Apollo Crews (Titus Worldwide) (-1)
  4. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows (Balor Club)
  5. Heath Slater and Rhyno 
  6. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel (Miz-tourage)

WWE Smackdown Live!
March 20th, 2018
American Airlines Arena
Dallas, TX

  1. Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Rusev (w/Aiden English)
  2. Baron Corbin defeated Tye Dillinger
  3. Natalya defeated Charlotte Flair
  4. Harper (w/Rowan) defeated Jimmy Uso (w/Jey Uso)
  5. Becky Lynch & Naomi defeat The Riott Squad (Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan) (w/Ruby Riott)

Smackdown Estimated Rankings (in storyline)

WWE Champion: AJ Styles (2x champion, 8 total defenses, 3 this reign)
United States Champion: Randy Orton (new)

  1. Shinsuke Nakamura (Royal Rumble Winner)
  2. John Cena
  3. Sami Zayn
  4. Baron Corbin
  5. Kevin Owens
  6. Dolph Ziggler
  7. Jinder Mahal
  8. Bobby Roode
  9. Rusev
  10. Tye Dillinger
  11. Mojo Rawley
  12. Aiden English
  13. Zack Ryder

Smackdown Women’s Champion: Charlotte Flair (3 title defenses)

  1. Natalya (+1)
  2. Ruby Riott (-1)
  3. Becky Lynch
  4. Carmella (MITB)
  5. Naomi
  6. Liv Morgan
  7. Sarah Logan
  8. Tamina
  9. Lana

Smackdown Tag-Team Champions: The Usos (3x champions, 8 total defenses, 5 this rein)

  1. New Day
  2. the Bludgeon Brothers
  3. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin
  4. Breezeango
  5. Rusev Day
  6. the Ascension

WWE Mixed Match Challenge:

  • Asuka & the Miz defeated Braun Strowman & Alexa Bliss

205 Live:

  1. Hideo Itami defeated Lince Dorado via DQ
  2. TJP defeated Kenneth Johnson
  3. Cruiserweight Championship Tournament (Semi-Final #2)
    Mustafa Ali defeated Drew Gulak

NXT
March 21st, 2018
Full Sail University
Winter Park, Florida

  1. Dusty Rhodes Classic Tournament (1st Round)
    Pete Dunne & Roderick Strong defeated Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan
  2. Ember Moon defeated Aliyah
  3. Adam Cole defeated Kassius Ohno

Estimated NXT February Rankings (in storyline)

NXT Champion: Andrade Almas (2 title defenses)
WWE UK Champion: Pete Dunne (5 title defenses in NXT)

  1. Aleister Black
  2. Adam Cole
  3. Lars Sullivan
  4. Roderick Strong
  5. Velveteen Dream
  6. Kassius Ohno
  7. Killian Dain
  8. No Way Jose
  9. Fabian Airchner
  10. Cezar Bonani
  11. Oney Lorcan
  12. Tyler Bate
  13. Lio Rush

NXT Women’s Champion: Ember Moon (2 title defenses, +1 loss via DQ)

  1. Shayna Baszler
  2. Nikki Cross
  3. Kairi Sane
  4. Peyton Royce
  5. Billie Kay
  6. Bianca Belair
  7. Dakota Kai
  8. Lacey Evans
  9. Aliyah

NXT Tag Team Champions: Undisputed Era (2 title defense)

  1. Sanity
  2. Authors of Pain
  3. Street Profits
  4. Heavy Machinery
  5. Sabbatelli and Moss
  6. TM61