Stephanie McMahon is taking over as WWE interim CEO and wrestling fans all had the same Triple H jokes

Vince McMahon stepped down, Stephanie McMahon stepped up, and wrestling fans had a lot to say about it.

Vince McMahon, longtime leader of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), is stepping back from his duties as Chief Executive Officer, at least temporarily. It’s the result of an ongoing investigation into misconduct across the top levels of management, spurred by reports of a secret $3 million settlement to a former employee with whom he allegedly had an affair.

His daughter, Stephanie McMahon, will take over his role as Interim Chairwoman and CEO.

McMahon, like her father, is no stranger to wrestling fans. She’s maintained an on-screen presence for large parts of the past two decades of WWE programming, often alongside her real-life husband Paul Levesque, better known as 14-time world champion Triple H.

Neither McMahon nor Levesque are strangers to the inner workings of the sports entertainment machine. Before stepping back from her role recently, she served as Chief Brand Officer during a period in which the company inked deals with multiple major networks and extended its reach across the globe.

Levesque’s official title with the company was Executive Vice President of Global Talent Strategy & Development. He’s largely credited for the rise of the WWE’s developmental brand NXT, which stood as the most entertaining and unique vessel within the McMahon universe for a long stretch in the late 2010s and produced future stars like Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt, Seth Rollins, Big E and Prince Pretty himself, Tyler Breeze.

So when the McMahon news broke Friday morning, the online wrestling universe had so many jokes they made Triple H — the guy who wasn’t even mentioned in the WWE’s official press release on the matter — trend.

WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle gives update after double knee replacement surgery

If there was ever a WWE Superstar who would maintain a positive attitude after surgery to have both knees replaced, it’s Kurt Angle.

If there was ever a WWE Superstar who would maintain a positive attitude after surgery to have both knees replaced, it’s Kurt Angle.

That’s exactly the procedure that the WWE Hall of Famer and Olympic gold medalist had on Tuesday. Angle suffered a number of injuries during his wrestling career (both amateur and professional), famously winning his Olympic medal with a broken bone in his neck. But his knees have been particularly troublesome over the past few years, and as Angle revealed on his podcast last month, he figured it was better to get both of them out of the way at once.

Today, Angle gave an update on his recovery from the surgery on his Twitter account.

“I’m recovering pretty well, but I’m in a lot of pain, I’m not going to lie to you. I start PT, physical training today, and if I do well with the physical training, the doctors will release me to go home and spend time with my family.

“I want to thank all of you for all your kind messages that you sent on social media. I love you all dearly, God bless.”

Angle added in his tweet that he faced a lot of hard work to get back to normal, but he wanted to go beyond that and reach “exceptional,” adding, “I’m always aiming higher to better myself, even at the age of 53.”

Angle’s last professional wrestling match to date came at WrestleMania 35 in 2019, when he lost to Baron Corbin. His final victory, at least for now, came a few weeks earlier over Samoa Joe on an episode of Raw.

Any thoughts of Angle returning for one last match are obviously far away at the current time, but if there’s anyone determined enough to come all the way back from double knee replacement surgery to climb between ropes just to say he pulled it off, he’d be right at the top of the list. Oh it’s true.

Instead of a tournament, WWE should just get rid of the Women’s Tag Team Championship

Focusing on more women’s singles titles seems smarter for WWE.

When WWE champions are unavailable for an indeterminate or extended period of time, it’s pretty common for the company to have a tournament to crown new titleholders. In that respect, the announcement that WWE would hold a tourney for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship after Sasha Banks and Naomi abandoned their titles is standard operating procedure.

(Of course the reason for a vacant championship is usually injury, not acute workplace dissatisfaction, but we’ll circle back to that in a bit.)

That would be all well and good if there was a thriving women’s tag team scene in WWE, but the truth is that it’s pretty barren. There are basically two tag teams on both Raw and SmackDown right now: Shayna Baszler and Natalya, who recently failed to win the titles but would be considered by most the No. 1 contenders by default, and Doudrop and Nikki A.S.H., who only recently joined forces and have been portrayed as not quite being on the same page. That’s seriously it.

To fill out a bracket, Bryan Alvarez of Wrestling Observer Live has reported (h/t to WrestlingNews.co) that WWE plans to bring teams from NXT into the mix. That’s good for them, and additional opportunities for up and coming talent are always welcome.

The necessity of this move, however, proves one of Sasha and Naomi’s points, if behind the scenes sources are on the money: WWE has done a terrible job making the Women’s Tag Team Championship meaningful, leaving it up to the titleholders to elevate the belts instead of the other way around. That’s fine when stars like Banks and Naomi are holding them, but problematic when a championship tournament is being held — because in this case, the prize is supposed to be the thing.

WWE hasn’t always been great about promoting or caring about men’s tag team wrestling either, as evidenced by the steady stream of teams that got over in NXT only to die on the vine on the main roster (with a few notable exceptions, like the Street Profits). But the tag team title unification saga between RK-Bro and The Usos had been the main storyline running through Raw and SmackDown for weeks until it paid off this past Monday, so it’s possible, at least, for men’s teams to be in the spotlight.

That simply hasn’t been the case in the women’s division. Without looking, can you even name who are the longest reigning women’s tag team champs? Did you know that Baszler and Nia Jax held the titles for the most combined days? It’s easy to argue that WWE hasn’t had even one championship team that will be remembered forever like legendary men’s tag teams through the years.

What WWE has shown the ability and desire to do is weave compelling narratives around its women’s singles champions. So that leads us to an obvious solution: Ditch the Women’s Tag Team Championship and create more women’s singles titles instead. Give them the equivalent of the Intercontinental and United States Championships to chase, and spend time and energy on them instead of paying lip service to tag team wrestling without giving the fans a reason to care about it.

That sounds better than scrambling to flesh out a tournament bracket to find champions who will have a hard time filling the shoes of the ones who just left.

WWE Raw results: Lashley challenges Omos, Cody vs. Miz

Check out WWE Raw results for the May 23, 2022 episode from Evansville, IN, with Cody Rhodes in action against The Miz.

Even though every episode of WWE Raw has the potential to be unpredictable, we’re guessing tonight’s show from Evansville will be … um, somewhat less talked about than last week’s show.

But hey, we’re not here to talk about what won’t happen, but rather what WWE says will take place. Tonight, the previews suggest we’ll see Bobby Lashley challenging Omos to something. What, exactly? Who knows? They’ve already wrestled twice and had an arm wrestling contest. Maybe it’ll be ping pong, though hopefully not for Lashley’s sake because Omos has been practicing.

Cody Rhodes, a.k.a. the man who warrants his own countdown timer, will take on a Superstar who already has tried to corner the market on being must-see TV on Monday nights, The Miz. And Becky Lynch will address her loss to Asuka, the one that meant she isn’t the No. 1 contender for the championship held by Bianca Belair. Thems the breaks.

There will be other stuff too, and maybe not even segments that need to be rewritten spur of the moment. We’ll be updating this post with live WWE Raw results as they take place, so check out our quick bullet points below or keep scrolling or more details on the matches and extended segments.

Pat McAfee found out about Sasha Banks, Naomi suspensions the same time the rest of us did

Pat McAfee said his look of surprise when suspensions for Sasha Banks and Naomi were announced was due to his not knowing ahead of time.

Just because he’s the excitable color commentator on SmackDown doesn’t mean Pat McAfee knows any more about the Sasha Banks-Naomi situation in WWE than everyone watching at home.

McAfee’s look of surprise when Michael Cole addressed Banks and Naomi’s now famous Raw walkout live on the air on the most recent episode of SmackDown has been the topic of extensive online discussion. As it turns out, there was a good reason for it: McAfee didn’t know the former tag team champions were being suspended until he heard Cole say it.

He admitted as much during his own SiriusXM and YouTube show, The Pat McAfee Show, earlier today.

“The Sasha and Naomi thing? That was my first time hearing what Cole was saying live there,” McAfee said on the show. “I have no idea what to think there. I have no clue.

“I honestly have no idea what to believe in this whole thing. They keep me out of the loop with everything. I have no f—ing idea. While Cole was doing his thing, I was very fascinated. Like, what is going on? I wish I had more answers for people, but it’s like I feel like you (fans) know more than I do.”

While it might be surprising to hear McAfee sound so in the dark about one of the biggest WWE stories in recent memory, even Cole, the voice of the company, has stated that he doesn’t know every single thing that goes down ahead of time during a live show. For something as fluid as the Banks-Naomi walkout, it’s easy to imagine that something like the public declaration of their suspensions would be kept on a “need to know” basis.

McAfee is also in a tough spot when it comes to situations like this, as he is the enthusiastic everyman during WWE broadcasts, and as someone still relatively new to the wrestling business, hasn’t been through anything like this in the past. It will be interesting to see how he reacts to future developments, because he’s almost certain to give his honest take on them, even if it’s not on TV on Friday nights.

Opening Bell: AEW hits Vegas, Cody Rhodes in the spotlight on Raw

Get ready for the week of May 23 in WWE and AEW with previews for Raw, SmackDown, Dynamite and Rampage.

Welcome to the Opening Bell, where we round up what’s been announced for WWE (Raw and SmackDown) and AEW (Dynamite and Rampage) programming for the week ahead.

WWE Raw preview – Ford Center, Evansville, IN

There’s a big confrontation being advertised for this week’s Raw, and by that we mean large in terms of how it’s being positioned and the physical size of the men involved. Bobby Lashley, who managed to beat Omos in a Steel Cage match even though he was thrown through the cage, has another challenge for the Nigerian Giant that he’ll apparently lay out Monday night.

And Cody Rhodes, who is increasingly being shown off as one of WWE’s biggest fan favorites, will be in action as well, taking on The Miz. But the real question is whether there will be another “Countdown to Cody” timer.

Also on tap for this week:

AEW Dynamite preview – Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas

There could be worse things than being in Las Vegas all week for a full week of AEW leading up to Double or Nothing on Sunday night. The slate begins with Dynamite on Wednesday, and even with the pay-per-view just days away, the card is pretty loaded. It’s headlined by a Steel Cage match between Wardlow and Shawn Spears, which the big man must win if he wants to get his hands on MJF (spoiler: he does want that, very much).

From a pure in-ring action standpoint, the bout of the night could (should be?) the Jungle Boy vs. Swerve Strickland vs. Ricky Starks three-way dance. Hard to imagine that one won’t be a lot of fun.

Also announce by AEW for this week’s Dynamite:

AEW Rampage preview – Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas

When will AEW Rampage air this week? It’s an open question as of the time of this post, due to the uncertainty of the NBA and NHL playoff schedules and what time games might air on TNT. It’s possible it could be headed for the 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT time slot that got the show its lowest ratings ever a few weeks ago.

Be that as it may, Rampage is set to be live this week as part of the full Las Vegas AEW experience, and we’ll update with more on the matches as they are announced.

WWE SmackDown preview – Simmons Bank Arena, North Little Rock, AR

Though it feels like the New Day has been feuding forever with the group now officially know as the Brawling Brutes, it was only this past week that Xavier Woods said out loud what we all knew: his side is outnumbered.

That being the case, he and Kofi Kingston are recruiting a mystery partner to their cause for a six-man tag team match this Friday. Who will it be, and can Woods pull off the Backwoods in a bout with so many people in it? We’ll find out on SmackDown.

The Rock has a clear (by his standards) schedule for WrestleMania 39

The Rock at WrestleMania 39 might still be a fantasy at this point, but his schedule is more clear than usual to make it happen.

If Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson wants to be part of WrestleMania 39, his schedule should allow it.

Johnson is one of the entertainment industry’s most in-demand talents, whether it’s as a leading man or behind the scenes as a producer. But according to Bryan Alvarez on the latest episode of Wrestling Observer Live, his calendar has less on it than usual in the first quarter of 2023 — the exact time for the buildup to the Showcase of the Immortals.

Alvarez said that unlike some years, The Rock has no movies to shoot early next year, freeing him up for other work should he so choose (h/t to Gunjan Nath of ThirstyForNews for the transcription).

He is going to do zero movie commitments for the first quarter of 2023, which would allow him to do WrestleMania without having to worry about movie commitments and also have the time to help launch the first season of the XFL. So actually the timing for doing a WrestleMania match would be excellent this year because he has two different projects which would require him to take time off from movies.

The distinction there is important: Johnson isn’t believed to have agreed to anything yet with WWE, but the scheduling gymnastics it might take would be easier to pull off.

A dream match between Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns and The Rock has been heavily rumored and much debated, particularly after Reigns emerged with WWE’s two most important men’s titles with a victory over Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 38. The location is just as fitting as the timing, as WrestleMania 39 will be held at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, with a distinct Hollywood theme.

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Paul Heyman recently discussed the idea of Rock vs. Reigns in an interview with Sportskeeda and called it a “fantasy” until Johnson puts his name on a contract. While it’s always good to take Heyman’s quotes with a grain of salt since they come partly in character, there’s definitely truth in the idea that until WWE starts promoting it, it’s wiser to think it’s not going to happen.

That said, for both creative and schedule reasons, 2023 looks like the best chance WWE fans will ever have to see The Rock return for one last WrestleMania main event. Expect that to be a fun thought for many for the remainder of the year, and possibly even into the 2023 Royal Rumble.

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Sasha Banks, Naomi suspended, merch removed from WWE Shop

Sasha Banks and Naomi were suspended by WWE, as stated live by Michael Cole on SmackDown, and their merch has been removed from WWE Shop.

WWE didn’t let SmackDown pass without mentioning Sasha Banks and Naomi walking out on Raw this past Monday.

Michael Cole spoke right before the night’s main event, a heavily promoted tag team unification bout between RK-Bro and The Usos, saying that Banks and Naomi had disappointed fans and their fellow Superstars by leaving the show instead of participating in the advertised main event: a six-person match for a women’s title shot.

Because of their actions, Cole said that the two women were suspended indefinitely, and that a tournament would be held to crown new WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions.

(Insert your joke about whether WWE has enough women to fill a tournament bracket here.)

As another sign of the persona non grata status of Banks and Naomi, Daniel Yanofsky of The Sporting News noted that both have had their merchandise pulled from WWE Shop.

It’s been reported by numerous outlets citing sources within WWE that Banks and Naomi aren’t expected to be fired, and Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful confirmed again tonight that they haven’t been released.

 

If there’s one industry where actions that would normally torch bridges to the ground can be overcome, it’s pro wrestling. That said, while there has been plenty of support for their right to express displeasure with the way they are being booked, opinion has been more split on the timing — a question of whether departing in the middle of a show left their fellow talent in the lurch.

In its initial statement and tonight’s comments on the air from Cole, WWE has kept that part of the situation in sharp focus. But by keeping the walkout a talking point and continuing to blame the women for what happened Monday, the company is running the risk of losing the battle of public perception, if that hasn’t happened already.