Rusev is expected back in two to four months.
The reason the original women’s storyline for this year, which was to culminate in Bayley beating Charlotte to win the four-way at Mania and take the title was changed to having Bayley win a TV match earlier was the feeling that they needed more ups and downs in the story to get from January to Mania so did the title change earlier.
The U.K. tapings on 5/6 and 5/7 in Norwich will be for a one-hour weekly show on the WWE Network. There had been talks of putting it on broadcast television, which would be far more beneficial as far as exposure and building up touring of the brand, but evidently no deal was put together.
Jeff Hardy is allowed to travel and wrestle in the U.K. He hadn’t been allowed in the country since his drug possession and conspiracy to traffic in drugs convictions in a plea bargain in a 2009 arrest that came to a conclusion in October 2011. Hardy had not been allowed to travel to the U.K. until October 2016, five years, due to the conviction and the time expired as long as there were no further legal issues.
Regarding the “Superstar shake-up,” when we first heard about it, the talk was that the key moves would be Roman Reigns to Smackdown and A.J. Styles to Raw. This was months ago. This past week we were told that Reigns isn’t going anywhere and the key moves were said to be Styles to Raw and The New Day to Smackdown. The latter makes sense since the tag team division in Smackdown has been weak from day one. However, with Cena leaving for a while, moving Styles also, which is taking the two most over guys on that side off the table, makes no sense. Smackdown gave you the impression that Styles will be moving over. He wasn’t booked for any program going forward and settled his issue with Shane McMahon. But that would mean one major Raw star would have to be moved over, although with Nakamura, they did get the biggest call-up. Based on the booking at Mania and on TV, I could easily see Charlotte and Bliss being flip-flopped. There are a ton of other possibilities but the key is Smackdown needs help in the tag division and Raw has several teams that could help.
Lesnar is not booked on Payback. Lesnar’s first major title defense is with Strowman, but it’s not locked in whether it will be on the 6/4 Extreme Rules show in Baltimore or the 7/9 Bad Blood show in Hartford, but it’s a prelude to whatever is scheduled for SummerSlam. What makes that interesting is that if Reigns vs. Strowman with no title at stake headlines Payback, that Strowman pretty much has to go over while still protecting Reigns as the top guy for next year’s WrestleMania.
The reality is that WrestleMania really does at some point, probably soon, need to become a two-day affair. If you look two or three years down the line, the company will have far more talent than it does now. There are choices, marathon shows that get mixed reviews and cause casual fans to tap out so you only serve the hardcore audience, or rush matches, which get the talent and hardcore fans mad or you cut down on the number of matches and bench talented performers or just do larger Battle Royals which marginalized more of the talent and make them come across as not special. Let’s face it, the Smackdown tag champs and top challengers were the perfect example of guys whose star power took a hit by being nobodies in a Battle Royal. And there are more guys of that level on the way to the main roster by 2020.
Or you can do two three-and-a-half hour shows on successive days. The audience is there that would pack stadiums two straight nights. You’d probably have to cut the individual ticket prices down, but the combined ticket prices of the two nights can be higher than the current single night price. Granted that means the Hall of Fame or NXT has to run on Thursday, but it also brings fans in one day earlier so it becomes more valuable to the local market as far tourism dollars and the overall event itself.