This week, Danny talked with Sports Illustrated pro wrestling insider Justin Barrasso:
DANNY PICARD: There’s a report that says Ronda Rousey is leaving the WWE after WrestleMania, which is on April 7. Is that true? What do you know about this?
JUSTIN BARRASSO: I know that her contract runs through 2021. WWE has confirmed that. I didn’t think she signed a one-year deal, it just seems like such a heavy investment, because they really rebuilt the whole division around her, the women in general. She’s currently under contract until April of 2021 . . . I don’t think Ronda is leaving anytime soon.
DP: Yeah, I’d be surprised if she left after WrestleMania as well. But when we talk about the top stories in the world of professional wrestling, usually around this time the top story is the road to WrestleMania. But now, is the more intriguing story what’s going on with All Elite Wrestling (AEW)? Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks had this announcement rally down in Jacksonville. Tony Khan from the Jacksonville Jaguars is funding the whole thing. Chris Jericho has signed with them. There are rumors that guys want to leave the WWE to go to AEW. We’re still wondering about a TV deal for them. They’ve announced the “Double or Nothing” PPV in May at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It seems like the most intriguing story line in the world of professional wrestling is what’s next for AEW and not what’s next in the WWE. In your opinion, right now, what is the more intriguing story, AEW or WWE?
JB: All Elite Wrestling. It’s like in the NBA, I think sometimes we get more excited about the offseason than we do about the nuts and bolts in-season . . . The most fascinating story in wrestling is, it’s two things: the Madison Square Garden show in April for “Ring of Honor” and “New Japan Pro Wrestling,” and then in May you have AEW’s “Double or Nothing” show in Vegas. The countdown is on. If you want to wrestle at one of these shows and you’re currently under WWE contract, you’ve got to give WWE 90 days. So you’ve got to request your release and then get 90 days. And the WWE is well aware that people aren’t just requesting their release just because. They want to work one or both of these shows . . . I think that’s the fascinating story. Kind of like how we love the surprises in the Royal Rumble, it’s the same thing with AEW. Who is signing there? What’s happening? Who’s on the roster? They’re going to be on TV, but which channel and which night? Tuesday nights would make the most sense because WWE Smackdown leaves Tuesdays and goes to Fridays this October when it moves to FOX. So there’s just so much going on with AEW. What’s their main event in May? You’d assume Chris Jericho is going to be in that main event. Kenny Omega would make a great partner in that match . . . There’s just so much unknown it’s exciting with All Elite Wrestling, where, with the WWE, not that we have all the answers, but we definitely have far more of an outline as to where they’re going to go.
DP: There’s no question that AEW has already affected and improved the WWE product over the last month. We saw Finn Balor in the main event at the Royal Rumble against Brock Lesnar. They had “The Revival” doing a segment with Vince McMahon. They had Sasha Banks against Ronda Rousey. Zack Ryder is back on TV. And that’s just naming a few . . . So there’s no question that AEW is actually already showing to be a great thing for WWE.
JB: Vince McMahon is best when he’s got his back against the wall, which, in 2018 and 2019 that seems to never happen. But when Vince is challenged, he’s at his best in the pro wrestling world.
DP: What does AEW do for a TV deal?
JB: Tuesday nights. It has to be Tuesday nights.
DP: Yeah but what station?
JB: I’ve heard a couple different options. I’ve heard TNT. I’ve heard TBS. I’ve heard WGN. I don’t know, I think the time is more important than the channel. I think they’re going to get a good network. The Khan family is the perfect group, it seems like . . . There are a lot of interesting pieces with AEW, in terms of people who haven’t run a wrestling company before. The talent will be management, and Tony Khan, I don’t know, it’s always interesting when guys want to be a little too involved. Not to say he will, but I think that will be a story to watch off-camera. But I can’t wait. Like you said, the competition has already made WWE’s product better.Listen to the show at PodcastOne. Also available on iTunes, Spotify, and dannypicard.com. Subscribe to Danny’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/dannyp