Originally published at Ever-Rise on WWE's PC era - COVID outbreaks, talent meetings, reshoots
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.
** Matt Martel and Chase Parker, collectively known as Ever-Rise, did a deep dive into WWE’s 2020 Performance Center run during episode two of ‘BehindTheShow’. Martel and Parker were a part of NXT and 205 Live and they were also brought in to create noise when the plexiglass was added to the PC. Martel and Parker opened up about the number of reshoots that were done for matches. Martel recalled Otis and Baron Corbin having to redo their match three times.
Martel: You don’t even know. WWE got into the habit during the pandemic of literally like if something happened in a match that they didn’t like, it would literally be, ‘Alright let’s do that again. Can we do that again?’ It turned into a movie.
Parker: A movie or a TV show or what have you where it’s you can get the perfect shot now, because you’re not in front of a live audience.
Martel: So ultimately, why wouldn’t you?
Parker: I get it, but at the same time, there’s an organic-ness to wrestling not being perfect in a presentation which makes it look good. If it’s something that just goes completely off the rails, all good but it became to where it was so many things, it was just like…
Martel: There was this one night where — and I don’t wanna throw the guys under the bus, I’m not, right. But these poor guys, it was Otis and Baron Corbin and they had to redo their match like three times for specific spots and it was just you felt so bad for these guys, you know? Because whatever they were looking for, who knows, right? But it wasn’t being delivered?
Parker: It happened to us. We were doing matches on 205 and they’d stop it and then you pick it up and then you stop it again and it’s just such a weird thing to experience because A, we don’t have a crowd so you’re adrenaline isn’t there yet. So it does take a while when you get into a match finally, you get whacked a few times, like, ‘Oof. Okay, I’m awake, here we go. We’re in it, we’re in it’ but everything hurts a little bit more because there’s no adrenaline.
WWE would film in bulk at times while running out of the Performance Center and that included Raw, SmackDown, 205 Live and Main Event. Martel stated that talents would be there from 8 AM to midnight.
Martel: We had full days. We would be there from 8 AM until midnight and they would just film episode after episode after episode, right? Like two Raws and two SmackDowns, 205 and Main Event, you know?
As the months went on during the Performance Center run, there were several reports that emerged of COVID-19 outbreaks. Chase Parker feels that those happened in ‘pockets’ more than ‘outbreaks’.
Parker: I think there were those couple of major outbreaks and those were reported but it would happen almost in pockets more than outbreaks. So it would be like this group of people, someone was in here so they could bench everybody whether they have a negative test or not. It would be like oh, if you were in trace contact with this person, if you were at TV or on the same show or anything like that, you would have to be sat out for two weeks. So there was kind of more of that than there were mass outbreaks even though there were a couple where I mean — and it’s only going to happen when you’re trying to get — continue running through something going like this.
They dove into the talent meeting that Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque had about not wanting spoilers to get out. He held a meeting the day that NXT’s Saurav Gurjar posted an image of Keith Lee holding the NXT and North American Championships as it happened during the taping. Martel stated that Saurav apologized to the entire group. Recently, Wrestling Observer correspondent J.J. Williams was removed from an NXT taping for tweeting out spoilers.
Martel: There was a couple times it did. Oh yeah, yeah, I remember Hunter saying, ‘What happens in here, stays in here.’ Do you remember that? It wasn’t main roster, it was NXT. There was definitely a meeting like that and I don’t know if it was as it pertains to COVID or about spoilers for — I can’t really remember… and sometimes word would leak of what happened like a big title change or something and that would upset them.
You know what’s funny? I remember they specifically said — I think that was the day of the meeting who was a foreigner, maybe something got lost in translation and when Keith Lee wins the belt, he’s taking a picture and he posted it right on Twitter, like immediately. I don’t know if he thought it was live. Maybe he didn’t realize it was a taped event, I don’t know.
It was 100 percent an accident and I felt so bad because the next week — and English obviously — he’s Indian, right, so English not his first language. I think he’s a huge star over there too, like a movie star. So, he got up and spoke in front of the entire group, apologizing to us and I felt so bad for the guy, you know? He’s up there trying to talk and like, he knows he messed up and I mean it was wild, right? You remember that?
At the 2020 Backlash event, Edge tore his triceps while competing against Randy Orton in a match that went nearly 45 minutes. Matt Martel shared that Edge’s injury occurred during a reshoot. Martel said Edge and Orton wrapped up their match and went on their way. They were asked to come back out and shoot some cinematic shots and that’s when the injury happened.
Martel: It’s funny you bring that up, because so Edge and Randy Orton had that match, like a 45-minute match or whatever, main event of a pay-per-view. I can’t remember which one. I don’t know, so they do the match, 45 minutes long and then they decide match over, high fives, hugs. They bring them back out now to get some cinematic shots and that’s how Edge ends up tearing his pec or hurts his shoulder or whatever, because you cool down and you don’t stretch and you’re not up and you just worked for 45 minutes and then you gotta go get this one shot that they didn’t even end up using anyway.
When it comes to how they navigated the pandemic, both Parker and Martel believe they contracted COVID at some point. They even ended up wrestling talents who had COVID.
Martel: Oh yeah! We lasted a whole year without getting COVID. We’re like, ‘Ah, we’re immune. COVID? No problem.’
Parker: Canadian healthcare saved us. All the years of stocking free Canadian healthcare.
Martel: Dude we were in that Performance Center so much, we were like, ‘We must’ve had it and we just didn’t even know,’ you know what I mean? How can we survive all these outbreaks and just never got it? We wrestled people who had COVID, you know what I mean?
Parker: We tested positive a few days later because it happens. It lasted a long time and then in March, we had it for my birthday.
Martel: We both ended up getting COVID.
Circling back to the beginning of the pandemic, Martel discussed how a tryout was happening at the Performance Center on the day of the shutdown. The tryout had to be cancelled mid-way through and talents were sent home.
Martel: There was actually a tryout at the Performance Center going on. Our buddy Dasher Hatfield, we were talking about this the other day. He had a tryout and everybody gets there Wednesday, they check in, whatever, they take their weight, do a physical. Thursday, they come in, promo class and you’re gonna run some drills or whatever, and after the promo class, there’s just a big meeting, they’re like, ‘Guys, tryout’s cancelled. No it’s over. Everybody has to go home. The world is shutting down’ and it did, right? The world shut down.
** All Elite Wrestling announced that they’re coming to the United Center in Chicago, Illinois for their Rampage show on August 20th. During the Fight For The Fallen show, Darby Allin had a backstage segment and stated that he wants to know who the “best in the world” is. While doing a virtual meet-and-greet with The Asylum Wrestling Store, Allin was asked if he was referring to CM Punk and here was his response:
No, that’s more Sammy Guevara calls himself the best ever so…
It’s cool dude. It’s awesome that people actually care and wanna know what’s going on so…
Several weeks ago, Darby main-evented AEW Fyter Fest and had a Coffin match with Ethan Page. He wanted to set a new standard for the match and did not care if he had to make a trip to the hospital afterwards.
It was sick because I wanted to set the — I wanted to set the pace with like how — because a lot of people sometimes view Coffin matches, Casket matches, whatever you call them, they’re like, ‘Oh, they’re kind of boring’ and you know, it’s kind of like slow paced and I just wanted to go crazy so to be able to be in that spot, set the pace and make history, I’m just — it was sick. It was awesome and I was ready to go psycho that night and I didn’t care if I ended up in a hospital.
** The Telegraph & Argus has an interview with NXT’s Ridge Holland. The latest episode of NXT featured Holland’s return from injury. Ridge suffered an ankle dislocation and patellar tendon rupture in October of 2020. He spoke about his return and aligning with Pete Dunne and Oney Lorcan.
Unfortunately this isn’t ballet and injuries happen but that’s all behind me now and I’m looking forward to showing what a healed up Ridge Holland is capable of. The recovery process was a grind. As soon as I got hurt I was thinking of what I had to do to come back. It was Groundhog Day but I had the best physios and trainers working with me on a daily basis, five to seven days per week. I came back by battering Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher and aligned myself with their opponents Pete Dunne and Oney Lorcan.
** SPORTbible ran their Q&A with Big E. When asked for his favorite opponent, on the tag team front, he listed The Usos and when it comes to singles, Big E said he’s only wrestled Apollo Crews for the past six months so he chose him.
My favorite opponent as a tag team would be The Usos. That’s an easy choice. My favorite opponent for singles – I mean I’ve only wrestled Apollo for the last six months. I think he’s extremely talented so let’s go Apollo.
On the topic of talents/characters that are the most narcissistic, Big E mentioned that The Miz was hard to be around during their early days around each other in WWE. He added that Miz has gotten better since they’ve gotten to know one another.
I guess Roman, he’s pretty and that’s pretty obvious from the way he carries himself. The Miz is a great choice, it’s hard to not think of Smackdown people because that’s who I’ve been around with lately. You might be surprised, he’s mellowed as he’s gotten older and definitely got better. But he was pretty insufferable when I first met him and I’ve told him this – just very unpleasant to be around and very obnoxious. He would do things almost like an 8-year-old. I promise you, he legit did the ‘I’m not touching you’ with his finger an inch from my face and I like being unbothered. He’s gotten better which is why he didn’t come to mind but The Miz was fairly awful when I first met him.
Big E feels that Chad Gable is the most underrated talent in WWE that he can think of. He feels that Gable could be doing so much more than he is doing/has done.
That’s a very good question. I’d probably go Chad Gable. Chad Gable’s incredible and even though we’ve seen him for several years in WWE and NXT, I think you’ve only really gotten glimpses of how good he can be. He’s a guy I think can be doing a lot more than he is now. I can watch him and go, ‘Oh man, he’s exceptional’ but when you’re in the ring with him you realize how strong he really is. I’m slimmer now but I remember being 300 pounds and he gives me that rolling German with ease. If he’s got his arms locked around you, you’re going for a ride no matter how big you are. Being an Olympian, that’s a different breed.
** After spending six years with WWE, Vanessa Borne was released from the company in May of 2021. Borne took part in a virtual signing for East Coast Autograph Auctions and mentioned that she would be interested in being a part of NWA’s all-women’s EmPowerrr show.
I have and I think what Mickie doing with the all-women’s pay-per-view is really cool and I never got to be a part of Evolution so I think — to think about competing in an all-women’s tournament like that is exciting and yeah, I would definitely consider doing that.
While reflecting on her time in NXT, Borne named Kairi Sane, Mia Yim and Dakota Kai as two of her favorite people to work with.
Oh man, there are a lot , I had a few matches with Mia that I really enjoyed so, there’s so many great girls there that are so much fun to work with and they all bring something different and unique.
Borne had the opportunity to compete in the first-ever Mae Young Classic tournament. She was eliminated in the first round by Serena Deeb. Borne heaped praise onto Serena for guiding her and said that bout is her favorite from her time in WWE.
This picture is from the Mae Young Classic when I wrestled Serena Deeb and that was — actually that probably was my favorite match within NXT or you know, that umbrella because I think Serena is one of the best and this was when I was new in my career and she really just kind of helped me throughout that whole process of planning a match so I would have to say Serena Deeb is another one of my favorite competitors.
As the signing went on, Borne was asked about the creative freedom that exists within NXT and here’s what she had to say:
We did have the freedom to start building our characters through promo classes and things like that. We could pitch ideas and you know, share things like that but you know, when it comes down to it, it all has to get approved and it has to be in line with what they want so you did get a lot of creative flexibility but sometimes it wouldn’t work out or they didn’t want what you were putting out there so…
** Booker T released part one of his sit-down discussion with Will Ospreay. Ospreay spoke about his immaturity early in his wrestling career and what the perception of him was around the British wrestling scene.
I’ll be honest with you, I got in so much trouble growing up in the British wrestling scene because I was a very young and immature man and I’m still immature to this day, right? But it’s just like when people were telling me, ‘You shouldn’t do this’ but I can listen to a crowd and say, ‘But they’re enjoying it’ and I’m still being booked everywhere, so why do I need — so I was very standoffish I must say and not in a rude way at all but I could see how it could constructed as rude, but I enjoying it and they’re the ticket payers, they’re the guys paying — of course I’m going to listen to the guys I respect and admire, but there are some people that I just — when they try to give me advice, it was almost like they were tearing me down and tearing my match apart and I was just kind of like, ‘No. No, I know this right. I know what I’m doing is right.’
** Jason Baker, who is known for co-creating the design of Bray Wyatt’s ‘Fiend’ mask and attire was a guest on Foundation Radio. Jason credited WWE writer Nicholas Manfredini for his role in bringing the Firefly Funhouse videos to life. He feels that Nic does not take enough credit for his work.
You know, one of the people that never gets enough credit with all of this is Nic Manfredini. He’s one of the writers for WWE, he’s a f*cking genius. No one ever — Nic, he never gives himself enough credit. Bray and I are always trying to mention him any time. Nic is definitely the unsung hero of the Firefly Fun House. He was the third person that was bringing ideas so it was me, Nic and Bray just bouncing ideas off of each other.
This past March at WWE Fastlane, ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt returned as a disfigured version of the character after being ‘set on fire’ by Randy Orton at the TLC pay-per-view. Baker and Wyatt’s thought process behind the new version of The Fiend was not to offend anyone who suffered from burns or a traumatic experiences of the sort. They wanted to make it so over the top to avoid those initial concerns. Wyatt was released from the company on 7/31.
We wanted it to be shocking. I’m like, ‘How do you outdo The Fiend?’ And I’m like, ‘Okay, we’ll take it over the top’ and also, surprisingly, we didn’t — one of the things we really, really pushed for was we didn’t wanna offend anyone. We didn’t wanna hurt because there’s people who have had the misfortune of being horribly burned, horribly disfigured and you know, we never wanna ever make fun or make light of those horrible situations that those people have gone through. So, one of the many reasons why the burned Fiend look was so extreme was that it was we took it beyond anatomically possible if that makes sense, to where it wouldn’t look — we didn’t wanna make it look realistic. We made it look movie-realistic but not authentic-realistic if that makes sense because we didn’t want anyone to be like, ‘Thank you for mocking my trauma.’ So that was one of the big — that was the first thing that we talked about was making sure that it was so over the top that no one could look at it and be like, ‘You guys are — thanks for mocking my third degree burns, my physical deformities from this traumatic situation’ so we were, you know, because it’s horrible.
When the Funhouse Bray character arrived on WWE programming, Jason caught wind of a few comments from people thinking that would be the only form of Bray Wyatt they were going to see.
The joy was sitting here like when we did the first four Firefly Fun House episodes and no one had seen The Fiend costume yet or anything and everybody’s like, ‘Oh great, he’s Mr. Rogers. This is horrible.’ This is like, ‘Oh! Just wait.’
** On the latest Wrestling for the Faith podcast, Jaxson Ryker reflected on his Symphony of Destruction match against Elias that happened on this week’s Raw.
The Symphony of Destruction match hurt, so bad. Everybody asked how the table — suplex off the top of the ring to the tables felt, I was like, ‘Well, it didn’t feel good’ but the cello shot was what really rocked me.
** Prior to the 7/30 episode of SmackDown, Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackheart spoke to Vicente Beltran for an interview. Both talents gave their takes on the reported Queen of the Ring tournament that WWE is presenting.
Nox: I’d love the rumors to be true. It’d be really cool to be a part of Queen of the Ring. I mean, for years growing up, you’d watch King of the Ring so I think it’s time we had a Queen of the Ring and it’d be nice if Shotzi and I were a part of it. That’d be great.
Blackheart: Yeah, let’s go. We need a queen! We’ve had so many kings, no queens. What the heck?
Nox and Blackheart were officially added to the SmackDown roster after their match against Natalya and Tamina on 7/9. Nox said they weren’t informed they were moving brands until after the match and although they will miss NXT, they are looking forward to creating new memories in a new environment.
Nox: We found out after the match that we had on SmackDown in the ThunderDome that we were now SmackDown superstars. That’s how we found out. We didn’t know before, we didn’t know we were gonna be SmackDown superstars, and it is goodbye and saying hello and living your dreams but, everyone’s happy for us which is nice.
Blackheart: Yeah exactly. You’re at NXT for so long and you create all these bonds with everybody so it’s hard to leave that but I’m ready to make new bonds, new friendships, new memories.
** Jinder Mahal guest appeared on El Brunch de WWE. Mahal reflected on being a part of the Punjabi Prison match at Battleground 2017. He threw the idea out there of him wrestling Drew McIntyre inside the structure.
So Great Khali actually designed the match. He was supposed to be in the first one, he was actually in the second one ever and then I was in the third one and it’s a very vicious, brutal match. The Punjabi Prison is… hopefully, I don’t have to do it too many times in my career because going into the Punjabi Prison, you know you’re not gonna be the same person when you leave. That match takes everything out of you and Great Khali is the creator of the match and then when I was in the Punjabi Prison, Great Khali surprised everyone and made his return, so yeah, hopefully — you know what? I wouldn’t mind having Drew in the Punjabi Prison.
** Vickie Guerrero welcomed AEW ring announcer Justin Roberts onto her podcast. Roberts shared that Kane and Edge were two names who he was nervous about announcing to the ring and here’s why:
The one that I feared and early on, there were names like Edge where there wasn’t a lot to work with. I remember telling him I wished he was still Sexton Hardcastle because that would be a much cooler introduction than saying ‘Edge,’ and then later on ‘Rated-R Superstar’ came along. But then I learned to just go, ‘Edddgeee!’ And I would just draw it out, so I found a way to make it work. Like Kane too was just very ‘Kane’ and then I learned later on to ‘Kaanneeee!’ You know? So over time I got better with that.
** The current RevPro British Cruiserweight Champion The O.J.M.O. (Michael Oku) joined the ‘WRESTHINGS’ show. He gave his take on Apollo Crews using a Nigerian accent for his TV character. OJMO explained where the misstep occurred when it came to the presentation of Apollo’s new persona.
This is a very interesting thing. How do I feel about it and he’s not even Jamaican. I think that’s the thing that gets to me. It’s like, that’s not how he sounds. If you want to push him — everybody’s like, ‘Well this is who he is now.’ No, this is not who he is though. If you want him to embrace his Nigerian heritage, he definitely doesn’t need the accent, and I don’t know which culture in Nigeria has a spear.
When he went into it, when he did the promo he was like, ‘This is what my grandfather said,’ then he went into it. It’s like okay, I’m here. I’m watching. When they was like, ‘Oh, this is just how he actually sounds,’ nah.
** Matt Cardona, Brian Myers and The Awakening (Big Kon & Vik) did interviews with The Weirton Daily Times to promote the NCW (National Championship Wrestling) show that they’ll be a part of on 7/31.
** Sean ‘X-Pac’ Waltman welcomed Arturo Ruas onto his Pro Wrestling 4 Life podcast. Ruas discussed the idea of being a part of Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport event and said he wants to be on one of the shows.
Yes. I’m waiting. I’m waiting just here and I’m very open to be there working with Bloodsport and actually where I find blood, I will be there too, you know?
** WWE applied to trademark ‘Bella Wine Matchups’.
** Lady Frost has been announced for NWA Empowerrr on August 28th.
** Bell To Belles has an interview on their YouTube channel with Tootie Lynn, who was the first announced entrant into the NWA Women’s Invitational Cup.
** Rob Van Dam and Katie Forbes were the latest guests on Highspots Wrestling Network’s Virtual Gimmick Table.
** To promote his Back to School Bash on August 7th at Raymond James Stadium, Titus O’Neil appeared on ABC Action News Tampa Bay.
** Axel Tischer, the former Alexander Wolfe will be in action at wXw’s 20th Anniversary event on August 7th against Fast Time Moodo.
** Bianca Belair talked to Jim Varsallone about her match at Rolling Loud against Carmella.
** PCW ULTRA announced that Ron Simmons will be present at their October 22nd show in Wilmington, California.
** The season two finale of ‘Wilde On’ is live on Taylor Wilde’s podcast feed.
** Ahead of WWE’s house show in Detroit, Michigan, The Detroit News caught up with Bianca Belair.
** SLAM! Wrestling published their interview with Alex Gracia to promote the ROH Women’s World Championship tournament.
** AEW’s Max Caster turned 32-years-old on 7/31.
** Chuck Palumbo was a guest on That 90’s Wrestling Podcast.
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.