Moments ago, it came across WWE’s Twitter feed that AJ Lee (a/k/a April Mendez) has retired from in-ring competition. WWE has also posted the one word statement (shown below in Twitter format) to their website at this link.
AJ, married to former WWE Champion and MMA trainee CM Punk, worked a tag match with Paige at Wrestlemania 31, then worked a six-diva tag match on Raw this past Monday. She had recovered from a neck injury prior to that return. No formal word on why, but if we do find out, we’ll post accordingly.
AJ will be missed as an in-ring talent, but certainly she has made a choice for her long-term future. Best of luck to her in whatever she pursues next.
BREAKING: AJ Lee (April Mendez) has decided to retire from in-ring competition with WWE. We wish AJ the very best.
Former WWE Ring Announcer Justin Roberts wrote a lengthy blog detailing his involvement with Connor Michalek. He discusses details on how Connor became accepted into the WWE Family, and accuses WWE of telling a “story” of Connor.
“This past weekend at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, they told a story. While using real life people and real stories, they did what they do best: they told a story and they didn’t let the facts get in the way.”
WWE’s NXT comes at us fast and furious this evening, with a number of great matches to be hyped about. Our main event features Tyler Breese and Hideo Itami tearing it up in a 2-out-of-3 falls match. Plus, Sami Zayn finally returns to NXT after his devastating beat down at the hands of Kevin Owens, and Bayley takes on Emma.
WrestleMania has come and gone, as has the Monday Night Raw after (equally notorious). Now that the biggest moment of the year has come to a close, we can take a deep breath, and look at the culmination of all the major stories, and the start of new ones. Bill and Drew sit down to hash out the best and worst of both WrestleMania and WWE Raw.
CJ Parker, who has been with WWE in their NXT Developmental group since 2011, has been granted his release from the company. Parker worked this past weekend’s Wrestlemania Axxess events. Given his appearances at the Axxess events, it appears that this departure is amicable. According to reports, his release was made official on Saturday.
Parker took to his Twitter account and posted a short message regarding his departure:
I would like to thank all the talent, coaches, staff, and fans of @wwe
Love you guys!
Best of luck in all YOUR future endeavors!! 😉✌️
Vince McMahon and staff held a conference call to provide an update on the WWE Network Subscriber Count, plus took questions from callers. Here are some highlights, courtesy of Jason Powell at Prowrestling.net.
Vince McMahon started by saying WrestleMania was a huge success, and discussed the social media impact. He announced the WWE Network passed 1.3 million subscribers.
Vince discussed some of the new programming exclusive to the Network.
Chief Strategy and financial Officer George Barrios spoke about the new programming, and announced more plans to launch in countries they still not have launched in yet.
Barrios credited the growth of the network to free trial months for new subscribers, specifically February, as well as Wrestlemania.
He announced another free month for new subscribers in April.
Barrios said they are still targeting 3-4 million subscribers, and believes they can do it.
They began taking calls. One caller raved about Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania, then asked about the new programming and if the budget is increasing. McMahon said the budget will “remain flat.”
Another caller asked for a breakdown of free subscribers that rolled into paid subscribers. Barrios declined, stating they do not go public with that number.
A caller asked about any possible changes to the pricing structure. Barrios said they were “really comfortable” with the $9.99 price point, but said it could change somewhere down the road.
A caller asked about expanding the Network into China. Barrios cited both China and India as unique opportunities, and talked about their brand in India, stating it’s their 3rd largest. He said it was interesting that Netflix was trying to “go it alone” in China, versus a partnership with another company.
The same caller asked about using Chinese talent in China. Vince said the star power of the talent is what people want to see worldwide. Vince said if they had someone of Chinese descent once they venture into the market it could be helpful, but only if they are a star and “deserve to be treated as a superstar.” He said talent needs to be able to make it globally.
A caller asked about consideration to a price point that includes the Network with the pay-per-views and one that does not. Barrios felt that $9.99 for the entire package is just fine, but left the possibility on the table in the future.
A caller asked about the Tapout deal taking until 2016 to have the product available. Barrios said they’ve tried to do a deal with Tapout in the past. 2016 is the launch.
Barrios declined to give international numbers for the Network, but will during the quarterly call. He also said there won’t be any data on WrestleMania pay-per-view numbers for several days.
A caller asked if the investment has changed regarding the talent budget. Barrios declined details.
The caller brought up how some are calling WrestleMania 31 the greatest WrestleMania ever. He asked about creative driving the business and how this will effect the business for the rest of the year. McMahon said it’s all about content and quality. He said they have doubters “and that’s ok,” but they have a history of “pulling it off.” He knew it would be a great WrestleMania, despite having a late drive to the event, but that was the approach they took this year. “By and large, we have a pretty good track record.”
A caller asked if they are talking with pay-per-view companies to get the Network out via different means. Barrios talked about the deal they have in Canada. Vince said they’re not in favor of cord cutting. They want to get the content out.
Another caller asked about the quality of the stream. Barrios said the performance was “rock solid.”
Another caller asked about the new programming appealing to different parts of their audience. Vince said yes, and said they have demographics “across the board.” They want to be able to reach them all.
The caller mentioned bringing in Sting, and attributed it to feedback for the Network. Vince said it’s important to monitor all of it, and it wasn’t just because of the network. “We took someone from obscurity and developed that character and made it important.” He also said they took Sting from “obscurity to a main event of WrestleMania.”
Barrios closed the call by noting they were nearly fully distributed in Canada.
I find it hard to believe that Sting was considered “obscure,” but it shows how Vince feels about WCW and TNA.
It’s the night after WrestleMania, and that usually means a pretty hot WWE Raw. I’m excited. Are you?
We have a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion in Seth Rollins, who cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase last night to turn Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns into a Triple Threat match. Lesnar didn’t get pinned. Reigns got screwed out of his opportunity. What will both men have to say?
Plus, we have two new champions – John Cena is our WWE United States Champion, and Daniel Bryan is our WWE Intercontinental Champion. Who will be their first challengers?
Will Ronda Rousey make another appearance? Will Stephanie McMahon call her and The Rock out? Will Sting appear again?
Lots of questions as we head into one of the most anticipated episodes of WWE Raw of the year. Join us starting at 8pm Eastern as we cover the show LIVE!
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for our livestream, @RingRap!