Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.
Latest Details on Sasha Banks and Naomi Leaving Raw
Sasha Banks and Naomi were scheduled to take part in Raw’s main event on Monday night alongside Becky Lynch, Asuka, Doudrop and Nikki A.S.H. The six-pack challenge was slated to determine the No. 1 contender for Bianca Belair’s Raw Women’s Championship.
Instead, the bout was changed to a singles match between Lynch and Asuka, with Asuka picking up the victory to earn the match against Belair at Hell in a Cell on June 5.
WWE then took the extraordinary step of providing behind-the-scenes details about why it couldn’t deliver the promoted main event. In the statement, the company said Banks and Naomi “walked into WWE head of talent relations John Laurinaitis’ office with their suitcases in hand, placed their tag team championship belts on his desk and walked out”:
Fightful Select reported the women’s tag team champions expressed concern about the direction of the division after multiple ideas they pitched were turned down, and the duo also denied they raised concern about “unsafe” opponents.
Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio added Banks is now facing “a lot” of backstage heat following the walkout. Naomi’s status wasn’t mentioned.
Given the nature of WWE’s statement and the subsequent reporting, it’s unlikely the situation is a work. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about what actually sparked the walkout, though.
It creates a lot of intrigue moving toward SmackDown on Friday night, though the company could provide more details about the state of the women’s tag division before that point.
Money in the Bank Cash-In Option Expected To Stay; Vince McMahon’s Role
Questions were raised about the future of the Money in the Bank contract after Cody Rhodes mentioned in a promo video the winners “will win the chance to main event WrestleMania.”
The MITB contract has long featured a cash-in option, giving the holders a chance to receive their title shot anytime, anywhere at a moment’s notice. While that included WrestleMania, it hadn’t previously guaranteed a place in the Mania main event.
H. Jenkins of Ringside News reported the MITB stipulations are expected to remain the same as past years and Rhodes’ comment in the commercial was a “major source of confusion with writers and producers.”
Meltzer noted that Rhodes’ remark was added to the script by Vince McMahon, but the reasoning is unclear since the creative team was told no changes are being made to the MITB contract.
The cash-in element is a major part of what’s made the MITB idea such a long-term success, so it would be a surprise if that’s removed for a single WrestleMania title shot, especially since there’s nine months between the two PPV shows.
For now, it appears McMahon was merely working with semantics since technically anyone has the “chance to main event WrestleMania” and it seems there’s no significant changes on the horizon for either the men’s or women’s contract.
Rhodes Considers Himself the Best in the World
Rhodes returned to WWE at WrestleMania 38 in April after a six-year hiatus that included stops with various promotions, including working as both a wrestler and executive for AEW.
He’s received a significant push since his return, picking up back-to-back PPV victories over Seth Rollins and getting plenty of air time on Raw to push the “American Nightmare” gimmick.
While Roman Reigns’ dominant run as the Universal champion combined with his WrestleMania win over WWE champion Brock Lesnar to unify the company’s top belts has made him a popular choice as the best wrestler in the world, Rhodes believes he’s the one who deserves that distinction.
He also told Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated it’s not necessarily a close competition.
“I think I’m the best wrestler in the world. And I think it’s by a large margin,” Rhodes said. “That upsets a lot of people, but I don’t mean it to draw ire. This is all I do. I’m not in charge. I’m here to hone my craft, build my body and win matches. Every week, I have to be better. That’s the ultimate clarity for me.”
Rhodes has definitely upped his game since he departed WWE in 2016. The fan support since his return suggests he’s due for a major title run in the near future.
As for Reigns, the former two-time intercontinental champion said questions about who’s actually better can’t be answered until they face off.
“The difference between the two best wrestlers in the world is that one has both titles to prove it,” Rhodes told Barrasso. “The WWE championship is the biggest title in the game. That’s never been in dispute, and that’s not a knock on any title anywhere else. The way to define the best in the world is the one holding the belt, and that’s Roman Reigns.”
So far, WWE has resisted the urge to use Rhodes’ momentum since his return to throw him into a feud with Reigns, but it seems like only a matter of that before that storyline arrives.
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