WWE Fastlane got a wrench thrown in its plan during the opening of last night’s SmackDown Live. Before the contract could be signed between WWE Champion Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston, Mr. McMahon interrupted and replaced Kingston with a ‘more marketable’ superstar: the returning Kevin Owens. Owens signed the contract, taking Kingston’s place at Fastlane, then teamed with Kingston later in the night and got the pin over Bryan in the tag team main event to prove his worthiness. Owens had previously been sending in cell phone promos saying he was a ‘month out’ from returning to the ring, so this was definitely a shock.
I’m interested to see how this story progresses; Owens seemed like a possible WrestleMania contender so does that mean that Kingston is going to actually get the big event nod and take on Bryan at the Grandest Stage of Them All? Or will Kingston end up the third man in the WWE Championship match next weekend at Fastlane. I really really REALLY hope it’s the former. #KofiMania y’all.
The Honky Tonk Man has been announced as the next inductee in the 2019 WWE Hall Of Fame class, reports CBS Sports.
Honky, real name Wayne Ferris, joined the then-WWF in 1986 initially as a babyface Elvis impersonator but the crowd reaction was less than positive and he turned heel in short order, taking on ‘The Colonel’ Jimmy Hart as his manager. Honky went on to win the Intercontinental Championship, surprising everyone, by defeating Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat in 1987. He would go on to a record-setting (and still standing) reign, spending 454 days as champion before losing it (in very short order) to The Ultimate Warrior at SummerSlam 1988. Honky went on to form the tag team Rhythm ‘n’ Blues with Greg ‘The Hammer Valentine’ and had one more banner performance, a live rendition of ‘Honka Love’ at WrestleMania VI, before departing the company full-time in 1991.
Honky has made appearances here and there in the WWF/E since then, including a stint as manager of Rockabilly (Billy Gunn), as well as a very brief run in WCW challenging fellow music impersonator Johnny B. Badd for the Television Championship. His WCW run was so well-regarded that Eric Bischoff often mentions that Honky was his favorite person to fire.
The Honky Tonk Man joins D-Generation X (sans Rick Rude) in the 2019 class, who will be inducted on April 6th live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Here’s hoping we get a sing-a-long of “Cool, Cocky, Bad” like we did with Double J’s “With My Baby Tonight”.
The planned 70th birthday for ‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair turned sour at the end of RAW last night as the returning Batista decided to send a message to Triple H by beating up their mentor backstage before he could enjoy the festivities. Presumably this is to set up Triple H vs. Batista at WrestleMania, the match that Batista has previously stated was the only match he would return for. Interesting that he’s coming back as a heel too; WWE isn’t even going to flirt with the babyface version of Batista after how his last return in 2014 turned out. I’m actually pretty bummed that I missed this, but thankfully YouTube had my, and everyone else’s, back for this one.
Roman Reigns made his return to WWE television earlier tonight on RAW and made a big announcement: his leukemia is once again in remission and, in his words, ‘THE BIG DOG IS BACK!’. Reigns left WWE in October to fight the illness, vacating the Universal Championship in the process. Cancer is no laughing matter and nothing to be taken lightly, so all of the well-wishes and congratulations to Roman Reigns for his successful battle. Well-done, Big Dog.
Bruce Prichard, the longtime pro wrestling industry veteran who has been experiencing a career renaissance thanks to the world of podcasting, is reportedly headed back to WWE. Mike Johnson of PW Insider reports that the artist sometimes known as Brother Love has been hired by WWE in a ‘top position’ in its Creative department and will be starting in Monday for RAW in Atlanta. Prichard previously worked for WWE behind the scenes from 1987-1991 and 1992-2008 as a Producer, and also had a stint in a similar position for Impact Wrestling from 2010-2013. Prichard’s career found second-wind in 2006 when he joined up with Conrad Thompson to host Something to Wrestle With, a weekly deep dive on the goings-on of WWE during his two stints with the company. It’s been near the top of the podcast charts almost since its debut, and led to a video version called Something Else to Wrestle With on the WWE Network (which may end up coming back for a second season now) as well as a Brother Love cameo during RAW‘s 25th Anniversary where he got one of the loudest, if not the loudest, pop of the night. Does this spell the end of Something to Wrestle With as a weekly podcast? No word yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if it at least became a less frequent thing.
WWE has reported that former multi-time World Champion Roman Reigns will be making an appearance this Monday on RAW, four-plus months after announcing that he was taking a leave of absence to battle leukemia. He is expected to be in attendance to give the fans an update on his fight, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he interacted with his former Shield brothers, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, in some capacity as well. Despite my own feelings on ‘The Big Dog’, I’m glad he appears to be doing well and is on the road to recovery.
Monday’s RAW is also slated to be the 70th birthday celebration for ‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair so it looks like WWE has one helluva show lined up. Will you be watching live?
It’s official: in two weeks at Fastlane, Daniel Bryan will be defending the WWE Championship against Kofi Kingston! This was announced through authority figure Shane McMahon at the end of tonight’s SmackDown Live to the joy of anyone with a beating heart. Kingston has been riding a wave of popularity following his iron man performance on last week’s SmackDown as well as his NEAR-VICTORY at Elimination Chamber. Awesome. Bryan/Kingston was going to happen one way or another given the fan reaction, and I’m glad it’s gonna be on a PPV and hopefully in the main event. DO IT, WWE. MAKE KOFI YOUR CHAMPION. WHY NOT KOFI.
WWE Fastlane takes place live from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on March 10th. Miz/Shane vs. The Usos for the SMACKDOWN Tag Team Championship was also announced but who cares, KOFI IS GETTING THE TITLE SHOT!