On Saturday’s WWE Extreme Rules show, Bray Wyatt showed up in a heavily planned segment at the end of the show. This was the biggest return that had been teased for more than a year.
There had been hints about Wyatt’s return for a few weeks. Like when CM Punk came back to AEW in Chicago last year, it wasn’t directly advertised, but there were a lot of hints about where everyone thought it would happen.
After the main event between Matt Riddle and Seth Rollins was over, the lights went out and the show was over. The crowd knew exactly what was going on because cell phone lights were shining all over the arena, just like they did when Wyatt was in the company. Then there was a version of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” a song Wyatt used to sing when he first became a big name in WWE.
People in costumes from Wyatt’s old Firefly Fun House segment and The Fiend, the last character he played, popped up in different parts of the arena as the crowd went crazy. Then, on the screen, the second man in a mask took it off, revealing Wyatt.
WWE had been giving out hints for weeks, both at arena shows and during commercial breaks at TV tapings. During the TV shows, there would be QR codes that, when clicked on, would lead to more teases.
The first tease gave a hint that the SmackDown show on Fox would be on September 23. People thought that the tease meant that he would be back on the show.
The tease showed how well-known he actually is. The episode was watched by 2,535,000 people, which is the number of people who have watched a WWE show in years. The last time SmackDown hit that number was on December 25, 2020. That show’s number was chosen because it started right after an NFL game ended on Fox.
Most or all of the 400,000 more people who watched than usual were likely to see Wyatt.
But he didn’t show up, and the show didn’t talk about him either. There was a hint that was so small that you might miss it if you weren’t paying attention. It was meant to get people to watch Raw the next Monday.
But the trick only worked once. Even though there were more teases, the number of people watching WWE shows has gone back to normal since September 23. Raw’s audience is lower, but that’s not surprising since it now goes up against the NFL on Mondays.
Most people thought he would come back on October 8, so those were the hints that made the most sense. More than 13,000 dollars were paid for the building. Even without the Wyatt tease, it looked like it would sell out, but there was a lot of late interest, and prices on the secondary market were high.
Windham Rotunda, who played Wyatt, the son of 1980s and 1990s wrestler Mike “IRS” Rotunda, started using a new name on social media soon after he was released. He also hinted that he would wrestle somewhere else as just Windham. His uncle, Barry Windham, was one of the best wrestlers of the 1980s, and his grandfather, Bob “Blackjack Mulligan” Windham, was a big name in the 1970s and 1980s. So, the Windham name is well-known in the wrestling world.
Shortly after Wyatt was released, AEW, Impact, and AAA in Mexico all showed interest, but no deals were ever made. Windham never showed up in the ring anywhere. The first sign of his return was when he suddenly changed his name on social media from Windham to Wyatt6, which is a name owned by WWE.
More Big Names Rumored To Be Making Returns
There are a lot of rumors about three big names coming back to the national stage.
Bandido, a high-flying powerhouse from Mexico who was a free agent and one of the biggest independent stars, showed up on AEW Dynamite on September 28 without a contract for the main event. He lost an ROH title match to Chris Jericho, who is now the champion. Jericho had a storyline in which he promised to beat all of the people who had held the title in the past 20 years.
Even though Bandido lost, the crowd stood up to applaud him after the match. Tony Khan, the president, CEO, and creative head of AEW came out with him after the show was over, and they hugged. Khan then gave him a full-time job offer backstage, and Bandido said Khan told him he needed him.
Putting someone who is not under contract in the main event of a TV show is a big risk. WWE never would do it. As expected, WWE then got in touch with Bandido after AEW did it. Bandido talked about both offers in an interview this week and said he was leaning toward AEW. This past weekend, he went to Japan to wrestle without making a deal with either side.
It may come down to who gives him the best deal, but AEW is a good choice for him because he wants to work in Japan and Mexico and would be able to do so. In Mexico, he runs his own show called “Big Lucha” out of his gym. He couldn’t work in Japan or Mexico if he joined WWE. But WWE can offer a lot of money if it thinks someone is important to its future.
Also, if there was a wrestling war, WWE could make AEW look bad for putting someone on national TV, where he looked good, and then having him sign with the other team. That actually makes him more valuable to both sides.
Bandido became a big underground star in PWG and other companies in Los Angeles. After being the main event of All In, a show put on by The Young Bucks and Cody Rhodes in 2018 that was in many ways a precursor to the creation of AEW, every major company was interested in him.
Surprisingly, Ring of Honor made him it’s champion because they had the best offer. Before Sinclair sold the intellectual property and library to AEW and ROH basically shut down, he was back as a free agent.
He was one of the most charismatic young wrestlers, so it seemed impossible that WWE or AEW wouldn’t want him. As more Mexican Americans move to the U.S., a young Mexican wrestler who has the potential to be a top star is valuable now and will be even more valuable in the future.
Fans of wrestling know Renee Paquette better than Renee Young. She worked for WWE from 2012 to 2020, when she decided to leave. It was said over the weekend that she will soon be back. She is also married to AEW champion Jon Moxley, whose real name is Jonathan Good.
She made a few one-time appearances on WWE shows after she left, and she also had her own interview podcast and another podcast with UFC star Miesha Tate. In June 2021, she also had a little girl.
WWE asked her to come back when it switched up its announcers this week for the new TV season, which started on Friday night. People in WWE said that they thought she was going to AEW after she turned down the offer.
Since she left WWE, there had been rumors that she would join AEW in some way as an announcer, mostly because of Moxley. For years, she was thought to be the best backstage interviewer in wrestling.
Neither she nor AEW has confirmed that she is coming, but on Friday, AEW said that Moxley had signed a five-year contract with the company. Before AEW’s first show in 2019, Moxley signed a three-year contract. Since July, when he was the company’s interim champion, he had been a free agent.
In the contract’s press release, it said that he would only work for AEW and New Japan Pro Wrestling. We’re told that the deal does let him work on his own shows.
But he said it won’t be like the way he’s worked for the past three years. Before, he would agree to do shows, which were built around him because he was the biggest name doing those kinds of things.
Now, his other shows, besides AEW and NJPW, would be more about surprises. If he wants to do shows, he will find people he likes to work for and show up without telling anyone. The idea is that he won’t have any long-term commitments or commitments outside of AEW and NJPW.
But on his days off, if he wants to wrestle somewhere or against someone for fun, he can do that. No star of his level has ever thought like that before. He said it was like being an unannounced comedian who goes to a club to have fun and try out new material.
Moxley had worked at a number of independent shows around the country over the past three years, and he was known to enjoy doing different styles. But he doesn’t want the pressure or commitment of being advertised on shows often.
He thinks that if he’s advertised for an independent show, they’re counting on him, and he’d feel bad if he had to cancel because he’s hurt.
Khan gave the title to someone who wasn’t under contract, which doesn’t seem like a smart move in a wrestling war where no one gets hurt. But Moxley might have been different. Moxley had said many times that he would never work for a company where he would be given a script for interviews.
This seemed to rule out WWE. In his autobiography, he was also very honest about WWE and how frustrating it was for him to work there for years as Dean Ambrose.
But many of his problems were caused by Vince McMahon and his creative vision. McMahon is no longer in charge of creative or an executive in the company, but his daughter and son-in-law are in the positions he used to hold.
Not only that, but there is a lot of trouble behind the scenes in AEW, so Moxley might have been the most valuable wrestler for WWE to sign right now. He is a strong favorite to be named Wrestler of the Year, and he will probably be the main attraction at the company’s next pay-per-view show on Nov. 19 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
He agreed to five years even though he doesn’t want to work for WWE and doesn’t even want to act as he does.
Because so many of AEW’s top stars have left for different reasons, Moxley and Jericho have become the company’s two most important players. If he had left, it would have been a devastating blow at any time, but it would be even worse now because the roster lacks depth.
CM Punk, who was the company’s biggest draw, is out with a torn triceps, and it’s not clear if he’ll ever come back because of a fight with The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega backstage.
Omega and the Bucks, who were executive vice presidents, are still not allowed to fight after the All Out show in Chicago on September 4. Also, Adam Cole hasn’t played since the end of June because he got a serious concussion.
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