If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.
** Cornell Gunter, former NXT video editor and content producer guest appeared on episode 221 of The A Show on RNC Radio. Gunter worked in WWE’s Content Innovation Lab at the Performance Center in Orlando. During the conversation, Cornell recounted the lead-up to the shift from NXT to NXT 2.0. He was present at the Performance Center when Vince McMahon visited and detailed what was discussed during McMahon’s meeting that he held. Gunter mentioned that McMahon’s speech was recorded and he expressed that he wanted the product to have an NCAA-esque feel. Nick Khan and Bruce Prichard were at the meeting as well.
So, I think so — shocked Not fully shocked. Kind of like, um, I wouldn’t say surprised but kind of just like, ‘Okay.’ Like Adam leaving and going to AEW, I wasn’t fully shocked just because of the certain things that I know he loves to do. You know, we all know Adam Cole loves to stream. It’s like — and he’s openly, publicly said it so it’s just kind of one of them things with certain people not being able to get their own itch or their own way in certain ways which is not bad, you know? If somebody wants to stream and that’s what they want to do and they wanna be able to live their life that way then they’re fully entitled to it. But I was kind of — like Kyle O’Reilly, like, ‘Oh, dang, okay.’ Johnny Gargano, I think that was the one that shocked me. Not saying Johnny’s going to AEW or whatever because I have no idea what Johnny’s doing but I think, you know, the temperature last summer was definitely like these guys are lifers.
I wasn’t expecting to see them leaving NXT ever type-stuff, you know? And then, you know, we go into this meeting and I realized NXT was gonna change at that point in time and you know, the infamous Vince and all these guys and girls of course or superstars and it’s like man, it just happened in the snap of a finger. So what Vince saw was truthfully, the then, now, forever and now he realized like, ‘Okay, we got these stars. It’s time to start thinking about the future’ and everything he said in that meeting came to fruition and we all left that meeting being like, ‘Wow, a change is coming.’
According to Gunter, McMahon spoke to talent and staff for close to two hours. Cornell clarified that people were not nervous to see McMahon at the Performance Center but instead, there was a feeling of excitement.
It’s just one of them things that even back in NXT where it was definitely like — I kind of felt bad for the people in charge down there because at one point, everything just started coming out and I’m just like, ‘All right’ and a lot — some of it could have been true and a lot of it was definitely false but I’m just like man, at one point in time, this stuff stayed in-house, you know? So when the whole Vince and all them were fresh in about a couple of months so this is the first time they probably was crossing paths with Vince in a way. So the energy in the building was cool. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh my God, our parents are home. Go to sleep.’ Like, ‘Oh my God, I’m scared.’ It was kind of exciting because the energy that Vince was bringing wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I’m here to fire people.’ It’s like, ‘I’m just here to see what’s up.’ Like, ‘What’s good? What’s happening down here?’
On the topic of Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque, McMahon said during the meeting that he and Levesque had been talking about a change for a certain amount of time. Cornell felt that the meeting was not to show any disrespect to what Levesque created with NXT. McMahon specifically highlighted that he wanted to see a change in production and certain shots such as when a talent is laying on the mat and they’re being shown scooting over to set up the next move for their opponent.
When Vince came down, dude, he sat down, he — he basically told people his history of wrestling and why he loved it and what made him get into it and then that segued into WWE as it is today and the stuff that he wants to see in the future and it was something, you know, he said that him and Hunter talked about it for X amount of time. You know, so it was definitely something like — everybody’s now talking, making these little jokes about Hunter and I’m gonna tell you right now, that man is one of the most genuine and brightest and just — I don’t know how many adjectives I can describe somebody in such a positive light. That man is — I don’t wanna curse on your podcast but he’s the f’ing man. I’m gonna tell you that right now. So I — that meeting was never any type of disregard, disrespect to what Hunter has done, what Triple H has done, at all. It was definitely something where it seemed like a unified decision where everybody’s on the same page and everybody was understanding, everybody was going towards the same goal… again, that meeting was something where if he was challenging even people like myself who was producing and shooting content, to shoot stuff that was different and think outside the box and not try to do original, go back to basics on certain things like wrestling. Like for instance, something he did highlight was like, ‘How many times have we seen people fighting outside the ring and then somebody gets helped thrown inside? Like, oh, here, grab me. Roll me inside the ring.’ No, he said he don’t wanna see that or we see somebody lining up for a — somebody’s on the mat, somebody’s on the turnbuckle and they’re sliding over to get to their spot. So you know, that was the kind of stuff that he said he doesn’t want to see anymore. Which I’m like, I was like, ‘Yeah!’ I mean I’m pretty sure — I mean as a casual wrestling fan — I’m not gonna say ‘casual’, but as a wrestling fan, right? And the stuff that we talk about, like the small little things like that because now we’re adults, we’re not kids no more.
So now we’re adults, we see certain things so I didn’t see nothing wrong with that. I thought that was like, ‘Yeah.’ When he was talking about when people getting dragged around the ring, he was like, ‘Why would I wanna –’ he was like, ‘If you’re in a fight, I’m not gonna let you drag me around. I’m gonna push you off of me.’ It’s like, ‘Exactly!’ So but, it’s stuff up about him who I said, the internet people who probably never met him or anything like that, it’s like, y’all gotta chill out man because it’s just one of those things where people create their own narrative about people and they spin it and then they stick with it like it’s cool and it’s like nah man, it’s not like that. I met that man three times and every single time, it was cool. It was never no disrespect, it was never like, ‘Oh, I’m the boss.’ He was like, ‘Hey, how you doing?’ It was all, you know, even dating back to the stuff happening last April when I was gone for X amount of time due to the tragedy, it was like, Stephanie McMahon called me with Vince and Hunter in the back or whatever and we talked and that’s the thing; a lot of people, they have their own narrative, they have their own opinions about somebody because what happened with somebody else which is unfortunate because it happened to somebody else but, man, people aren’t always bad people.
There were a multitude of projects that did not come to fruition that Cornell was involved with. He revealed that there was an idea that was set in motion involving Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott and The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) being a heel stable. Gunter shared that there was an internal push to get Malcolm Bivens his own show and along with those two ideas, he also was planning to work on a documentary about Dakota Kai leading up to one of her matches against Raquel Gonzalez.
Oh my God , please give that man the show because he deserves like a night show and that was definitely something we were kind of aiming towards to get.
Gunter went on to give a description of what his job with WWE entailed. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was a part of the production crew for the AJ Styles versus Undertaker, Tommaso Ciampa versus Johnny Gargano and Patrick Clark (Velveteen Dream) versus Adam Cole cinematic matches.
Oh God. Yes, yes, yes Taker versus AJ Styles match. We also filmed the Tommaso Ciampa-Johnny Gargano cinematic match, we also filmed The Velveteen Dream and Adam Cole cinematic match.
As far as his time in WWE goes, Cornell is grateful for the opportunity. When he was informed of his release from the company, he was alerted that he had a 90-day period in his deal and he appreciates the company for taking care of him financially for that period of time after being let go.
Truthfully, it’s been 115 days technically because I had a 90-day period but outside of my 90-day period, it’s been like 160 days .
It was interesting because prior to all, you know, the whole departure stuff happened, we were talking about certain things about me potentially transitioning out of NXT after everything that happened with my son, so the 90-day thing kind of surprised me because I got a call from H.R. and they were just like, ‘Hey, you know,’ da, da, da, da, ‘Stuff is happening and we’re sorry.’ I’m like, ‘Hey, it’s all good. Thank you guys so much for the run.’ I had a hell of time and then it was like for the next 90 days, you know, ‘We agree to’ blah, blah, blah and I was like, ‘Oh, okay, cool.’ You know, all right, bet because you know, some people — for me personally, I’m forever grateful for WWE. You know, for the past two years specifically, definitely during a pandemic time, they still gave me an opportunity to provide for my family and also got to work and work with people that I loved to work with and be around, people that I love to be around and fulfill a dream that I wanted to do since I was five and four and six-years-old. So the fact that they gave me the opportunity to do it but also, for 90 days, they still took care of me. I’m forever grateful so I was just as surprised and I’m just as thankful so…
** TV Source Magazine has an interview on their site with Charlotte Flair. In 2021, Flair worked with the likes of Shotzi and now-free agent Toni Storm for the first time. She recalled asking those respective talents to recommend what their favorite matches are so she could study their move-sets.
I watch their matches on YouTube. I asked both Shotzi Blackheart and Toni Storm what their favorite matches were of theirs, and I watched them to study their move sets to try to work around that. Like, for instance, if I’m in a program with someone like Shayna Baszler, I’d change my style more for that. Shayna is a tough competitor with a background as a UFC fighter, and I have to up my game when I’m in the ring with her.
Sasha Banks is currently sidelined with an injury, but Flair feels that when they cross paths again, their feud will be everything that viewers expect it to be and more.
Sasha and I haven’t had a program on TV in five years, but when we cross paths again on TV, I believe it will be what everyone expects and more.
Flair went on to list several talents who she’d like to have full-length programs with such as Naomi, Bianca Belair and Shayna Baszler. She added that she’d like to revisit her story with Rhea Ripley as well.
I’ve never had a full feud with Naomi. I would love to face her again. I want to do a full program with Shayna Baszler; I admire her and her background. I also think that Bianca and I will need to have a full program at some point. I had a taste of what we could do on Raw, and I would like to go back to that and have a full program. She’s so athletic and powerful, and I need more time with her. Rhea also definitely has unfinished business with me. I would love to share more moments with her. I really want to fight everyone. I’m a different performer now, and I guess I have unfinished business with everyone.
** The newly crowned ROH Women’s World Champion Deonna Purrazzo was interviewed by Jim Varsallone and reflected on her decision to sign with IMPACT Wrestling. She feels that IMPACT has reignited her career and it was the best decision she could have made.
It’s defined my career . The best decision I ever could’ve made and I think I was more hesitant because you know, obviously my time at Ring of Honor and the women’s division there, it wasn’t coming to fruition the way I wanted it to and didn’t want… didn’t want to be giving more of myself than they were willing to give back to me, and then I got the opportunity to go to NXT and it was kind of like I’d worked for this for so long. Gosh, if they’re finally saying ‘yes’, how do I say no? Because then maybe they’ll never say yes again and then I — I don’t know what could’ve been. So I was just — when I was released from NXT, I was a little hesitant to right way, dive deep into another contract and from the minute I walked into Skyway Studios in Nashville, May of 2020 for my first set of IMPACT tapings, I felt like this is my home. I felt welcomed and I felt respected and I felt like an immediate part of and you know, part of that is the wrestling aspect, right? But then the other part of that is the office aspect and the locker room aspect and even from the first conversation I had with Scott D’Amore on the phone before those tapings, I felt like this is gonna be a good fit if this is how it goes and yeah, like I said, it’s defined my career. I have reinvigorated myself, I have lived my wildest dreams over the last two years so, I owe IMPACT. I’m so grateful for them.
As far what else Purrazzo is looking to accomplish in IMPACT, she mentioned that she’d like to team up with Chelsea Green and go after the Knockouts Tag Team Titles.
It , which is the greatest tag team that never actually was and win some tag gold in our Knockouts division.
Elsewhere during the conversation, she spoke highly of fellow IMPACT Wrestling talent and her significant other, Steve Maclin. Deonna feels that there is a place and time for herself and Maclin to be paired on-screen together in IMPACT, but added that he should be spotlighted on his own for now. Deonna went on to describe Maclin as a new-age Samoa Joe when it comes to talents that have been in the X Division.
I think one day, there will be space for me and Steve at Hard To Kill was — got a ‘this is awesome’ chant as well, it was phenomenal and hopefully one day, there’s space for us to be on-camera together but, I am gonna put that in the future because I want the spotlight on him totally.
Gosh, I just think he’s this crazy hybrid. He’s so intense and so focused but then he also can do the high-flying and the fast-paced and he’s — if I can liken him to anyone that was ever in the X Division, he’s like the new age Samoa Joe, I think. He’s just so phenomenal and to see him spread his wings and show the world what he can do over the last, you know, six months at IMPACT has been incredible. I keep saying ‘incredible’ but, I just am so happy and proud of the work he’s put in and the things he’s been able to do thus far in his career.
Dating back to IMPACT’s ‘Homecoming’ event, Purrazzo and Matt Rehwoldt have been featured on-screen together. Going into Hard To Kill, Rehwoldt could not lay a hand on Purrazzo’s opponent Mickie James. Purrazzo wanted Rehwoldt to be a part of the match because he was part of her on-screen growth, so he was factored into the bout without touching James.
It was awesome and Gail came out and gave us, you know — just hype the crowd up that we were the first-ever Knockouts main event on a pay-per-view and you know, how special that was and how great Mickie is and for everything I’ve done over the last two years. It was just — it was awesome.
** Joe Spivak, football player for Northwestern University is a part of WWE’s ‘Next In Line’ program. Joe told ABC Chicago that he aspires to play in the NFL and says WWE has been supportive of that. He was told that once he closes that door, come visit through WWE’s door.
I’m still training for my pro day right now. I’ve always dreamed of playing in the NFL and here I am one step away, and set up from a place like Northwestern. Sure that step is gigantic but I be able to live with myself if I didn’t go for that. And the WWE has been so, so, so supportive of that, saying you need to finish this dream, finish this and when you close that door, let’s open up this one.
He has an idea for character named ‘The Juice Box’, which would be a tribute to Joe Orosco, Spivak’s friend who passed away in November 2020.
He used to always say in the weight room when we’re squatting, ‘If your juiceless, you’re useless.’ And in some of the hardest moments of a workout, he’d say, ‘If you’re juiceless, you’re useless.’ You need to have that outward enthusiasm and bring everybody with you.
My parents taught me in life — is having enthusiasm for what you do and a great attitude for everything. That was a character that I did this summer– ‘The Juice Box’– and if the WWE wants to run with it, that’s great, because it’d be such a special way to pay homage to such a special guy.
Joe recalled when he first thought WWE’s N.I.L program might be a good fit for him. He stated that friends along with coaches thought he’d be good at wrestling. Joe wants to spread positivity and feels the two platforms he has will allow him to do that.
Me and my friends, and some strength coaches, started joking, ‘Oh you’d be great at that Joe, that’d be a great fit.’ What I’m passionate about in life is competition and training, and pushing yourself and chasing edges. But also, all I want to do is spread the message of positivity that my family gave me and like, where else do those two platforms merge more perfectly and I started realizing – wait, this might be it.
** Prior to Mustafa Ali announcing that he requested his release from WWE, ‘Metro’ caught up with Kofi Kingston and he spoke highly of Ali and felt that a program between them was ready-made. Kingston described Ali as an “innovator” and said it was disappointing that nothing between them came to fruition on-screen.
It was perfect! It was written, you didn’t even have to go out of your way to creatively write anything else, it was perfect! But alas, that’s not the direction that ‘the office’, I guess, wanted to go in. That’s just kinda the way that it goes! Maybe down the line we’ll get a to revisit that opportunity.
I was told a few things, and we start working towards those things that we’re told, and then all of a sudden it’s not those things. But that’s really kind of standard fare for us. It was really disappointing, man, because I think he’s so amazing in the ring and such an innovator. He finds ways to do the littlest things in such a different way, but he puts his own spin on it. He has a great mind for the business and a great mind for storytelling.
** Sports Illustrated has a Q&A on their site with Jay White. He was asked was it difficult for him to miss all three nights of Wrestle Kingdom 16 and here was his response:
No. Look at Shingo . If I had been there, that would have been me in the championship match. Or I would have been the one to take that belt away from him. Missing out on facing those NOAH guys, I really don’t care. A lot of wrestlers often talk about wrestling certain people from other companies. I really don’t. At this level, I’m not going online to ask someone for a match. I’m the guy that people want to get in the ring with, not the other way around. When I’m not wrestling, I’m not thinking about it. I’m too busy living my life.
White has not wrestled in Japan since May of 2021. He clarified that he is still the leader of Bullet Club as far as he’s concerned.
Of course . I’m not in Japan, so if someone else thinks they’d do better, be my guest. But it’s still mine, and there will come a day when people see that.
** Scott Garland (Scotty 2 Hotty) did a virtual signing with K & S WrestleFest. At the 2001 Royal Rumble, Garland entered the Rumble match and awaiting him in the ring were The Undertaker and Glenn ‘Kane’ Jacobs. Garland was eliminated immediately, but he wishes that he would’ve handed Jacobs and Undertaker the ‘Too Cool’ yellow sunglasses and asked them to dance before being thrown out.
It was a cool moment . I don’t think I realized how cool it was gonna be 20 years later at the time but, the only thing I wish was that when I got in the ring, I pulled out two pairs of yellow glasses and tried to get them to dance before they chokeslammed me but…
For the past five years, Garland worked as a coach at the WWE Performance Center. He thinks people should be on the lookout for Grayson Waller and Von Wagner who are currently featured on NXT 2.0.
were my first match in the WWF back in ‘91 so then when Cal, Von Wagner came into my class, that was kind of like a — it was a cool thing. Kind of circle of life type of thing I guess, right?
** Necro Butcher was the latest guest on ‘Way of the Blade’. He looked back on his experience working with Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine and almost severely injuring Valentine with a sunset flip maneuver. He ran into Greg years later and it wasn’t until he saw Necro Butcher’s feet that he remembered who he was and what occurred during their match.
I had a couple, a few matches with him . I think… the funny thing was the first time, I almost murdered him with a sunset flip. The ring was really wet so I didn’t get over him at all with the sunset flip. I just went up and down and just pancaked him right into the mat. I can still remember the noise he made when I landed on top of him and I didn’t feel very tough at all for making Greg Valentine make this horrible sound when I smushed him and then a few years later, we had a match in Detroit and I hadn’t saw him since I almost murdered him with the sunset flip and I wrestled with the decision, ‘Okay, how do I talk to him? How do I — do I apologize when I see him or do I play it by ear?’ I didn’t know what to do, but, when he first met me, he didn’t remember and then I thought, ‘All right. I totally dodged a bullet on that horrible sunset flip all those years ago.’ But then when I took my shoes off, when he saw my feet, he said, ‘Wait a minute! I know those feet. I did a job for you.’ Like oh my God, this is — then he remembered. He initially could not, had no memory until he saw my giant feet because I have some pretty big feet so he saw my feet and the feet brought his memory back and then — but he’s a big baseball fan. You know, so with Tampa Bay Rays or Devil Rays back then, you know, so we talked about baseball and I was able to win him over but it was tough sledding there for a while when he remembered, when he recognized the feet.
** An article about Kendo Kashin was published to Tokyo Sports. It is noted in the piece that in December 2007, Kashin was scheduled to go one-on-one with Booker T in Japan. Kurt Angle filled in as a replacement due to Booker T having travel issues.
** Both New Japan and All Japan Pro-Wrestling are celebrating their 50-year anniversaries respectively. AJPW’s Kento Miyahara told Tokyo Sports that he does not care what other organizations are doing and thinks All Japan should focus on originality. All Japan and New Japan are collaborating for Korakuen Hall’s 60th Anniversary event in April.
I don’t really care about what others are doing. I think All Japan should pursue originality.
** Pro Wrestling NOAH ‘Bumper Cromp’ Results (1/16/22) Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
– Kotaro Suzuki, NOSAWA Rongai & YO-HEY def. Kongo (Aleja, Hao & Nio)
– Atsushi Kotoge & Hajime Ohara def. Stinger (HAYATA & Yuya Susumu)
– Daisuke Harada def. Seiki Yoshioka
– Daisuke Harada & Hao def. Kongo (Aleja & Nio)
– Sugiura-gun (Kazushi Sakuraba, Kazuyuki Fujita, Kendo Kashin & Takashi Sugiura) def. King Tany, Mohammed Yone, Go Shiozaki & Masakatsu Funaki
– GHC Tag Team Championships: M’s Alliance (Keiji Muto & Naomichi Marufuji) (c) def. Kongo (Kenou & Manabu Soya)
– GHC Heavyweight Championship: Katsuhiko Nakajima (c) def. Masa Kitamiya
** IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada was interviewed by ‘Victory Sports News’.
** Diamond Dallas Page’s ‘Relentless’ documentary is up on the DDP YOGA YouTube channel.
If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.