WWE After the Bell Podcast, Episode 2 “Silence Your Twitter Fingers”

I’m back to recap the WWE podcast. Hosted by Corey Graves, his guests include: Tyson Fury, Cesaro, and Adam Cole.

It runs at just 44 minutes long

 

Graves talks about it being an insane week in the WWE while saying he is still not over the jet lag. He then addresses the “elephant in the room” and had read the same rumors from the “news sites” but can neither confirm nor deny what they were. Graves then mentions he is not in the business of “rumor mongering” and how he is not “towing the company line” but speaking from the perspective of someone who was there, while saying we were not and will tell us what he knows.

He said the flight over was easy as they were in an “enormous” charter jet and said everyone had a blast. Graves admits he had reservations about going to Saudi Arabia the first time but that the people are gracious and the food and service are excellent. Graves reiterates again he is speaking for himself and said the experience of the event surpassed all expectations.

Graves notes that internally, they are calling it the “travel snafu” and calls it weird. He goes a little bit further into what happened, saying there was a litany of delays and heard everything from the fuel truck being parked on the runway and the guy driving the truck not being there along with 10-15 other reasons why they could not get on the plane. Graves said they were all exhausted and they wanted to get on the plane to Smackdown.

Graves keeps reiterating he’s speaking for himself then gives a shout out to the flight crew for being great then talks about confusion between the pilots and said some sort of mechanical issue went down and they ended up getting de-planed. Management then came to some guys and tried to get those advertised to Smackdown to the show by attempting to charter another plane. Graves then mentions the #Saudi20 going around Twitter and that some people said it meant the 20 most important people in the company but again, it was those advertised on Smackdown to Fox. Graves talks about how the roster all takes pride in their work and are professionals and that the effort was made but it did not happen.

We now hear Graves rant about the rumors of Vince McMahon stranding the talent in Saudi Arabia as Graves says if you work here then you know that as soon as the final bell rings, Vince gets on his jet and goes home or to the next city because he runs WWE and just because it makes a “sexy” headline doesn’t mean its right. Graves then talks about how when you are someone like Brock Lesnar, Tyson Fury, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair then you’ve earned the right to fly on a private jet. Graves said all of these factors led to some of the talent saying how the situation sucks and agrees, even adding the airport does not have a bar or a restaurant.

Graves now calls out the “conspiracy theories” and how half of them came from the “boys on the plane.” Graves asks those talents who complained on Twitter what is going on Twitter going to do for them and it just fuels the “journalists” and gives everyone else the chance to add in their two cents. Graves then tells those upset they were not considered for that other charter plane to stop crying about it on Twitter because they are WWE Superstars. Graves then tells us that Randy Orton wasn’t complaining and that he has the “cache” to speak his mind then talks about being a professional and how this whole trip was about the show and delivering what was advertised. Graves then said at the end, Smackdown turned out awesome before going on about the conspiracy theories and how speculation is not the truth.

Graves said that Crown Jewel exceeded his expectations and that the fans finally got what they wanted in a new Universal Championship and talks about the women’s match and how he talked about the change this could have down the line. Graves thought Brock vs. Cain was fun then calls out those whining and complaining for wanting a longer match.

First off, it seems that even Graves has no clue what really caused the flight delay. And I don’t know if we will ever know the true story about what happened because no one seems to able to give an honest answer to the talent.  I’ve been on planes that were delayed but they flat out told you what was the issue so something screwy was happening on this particular flight. The fuel truck excuse given to them was something else and that could be taken as a sign someone was indeed trying to prevent the plane from taken off. Secondly, we got the token complaints about the “journalists” and whiny fans on Twitter but also saw some shots taken at the talent who complained and that is a sign they are not happy at whoever has been leaking information to the likes of Dave Meltzer and others. If they believed he was outright lying then they’d come out and say so directly like they’ve done to him and others in the past. With recent stories coming out about talent being unhappy the company is back to smearing anyone putting out these stories. They also clearly put it out to the talent that they are not going to stand for people leaking information. Calling out talent for complaining and citing Randy Orton, who was in the midst of contract negotiations (likely for a significant raise if goofs like Mike Bennett can make $500,000 per year) and never going to do anything to put that in jeopardy is another tone-deaf message sent from the company but this time to the talent. Graves also went out of his way to mention how great and big this plane was and put over the accommodations in a way that seemed solely as a company message stating the WWE provides top notch accommodations to their talent.

Graves also spouted more company messages like going on Twitter to complain is a waste, which is rich since their talent constantly goes after people on Twitter. And, regarding the #Saudi20 thing, if you found out that people were chartered out solely because they were booked to be on a show and the rest of the talent were not important enough and had to stay behind then of course you would be upset. If you had family that you barely got to see and this was keeping them from you I would not be thrilled that I was stranded in Saudi Arabia.

 

Tyson Fury

Graves asks Tyson about his first WWE experience in the ring. Fury loved it then when asked said he came up with the idea for his own entrance. Graves asks Tyson about being a life long fan and said he did not realize how much travel the company does then is asked about his fight against Deontay Wilder in February. Graves then asks Tyson the odds we see him in the WWE ring again as Fury says hopefully soon and against Lesnar. Tyson closes out by giving a shout out to Vince.

This was maybe three minutes long. It was tough to make out some of what Fury was saying but the whole thing seems designed to tease a potential match against Lesnar sometime in 2020.

 

Cesaro

Graves introduces Cesaro as a long-time personal friend and someone who you could say stole the show at Crown Jewel. Cesaro jokingly asks Graves if he can still came in Sterling. For those unaware, Graves went by “Sterling James KeananHe also jokes about not appreciating Graves plugging hair growth products then tells all men suffering from hair loss to cut it all off because it looks great.

Graves asks Cesaro about his match against Mansoor as Cesaro said his thoughts going in were that he was going to steal the show. Graves puts over Cesaro’s matches against Ilja Dragunov, Aleister Black, and the recent six-man on Smackdown then says what keeps him going night after night despite not getting his just due. Cesaro all he can control is what he does in the ring then references the time he had a match against Miz a few years ago that went for about one minute and set out to have the best match in that timeframe and performing in the ring is what keeps him going.

Cesaro puts over those who have great entrances and promos but the bell will ring when that happens you have to step up. Graves asks Cesaro if he has thought about returning to NXT but Cesaro wants to succeed on RAW and Smackdown and do what he does not best. Cesaro says people might hate the way he talks but believes he is a good “all-arounder” and talks about traveling to Japan and Mexico where he did not speak the language but could engage the crowds with what he did in the ring. He also hopes the days of 15-20 minute monologues are gone then when Graves says some people enjoy that, Cesaro becomes surprised and said if they do he encourages them to watch standup comedy because you have to drive the action. Cesaro likes the interruptions, catchphrases, and crowd interactions.

He jokes about people saying he is humble and talks about how he used to make his own ring gear.

Graves asks him about Sheamus as Cesaro says they talk all the time and became great friends after teaming. Cesaro tells a story about Sheamus telling people on his Celtic Warrior YouTube channel that he wanted to be lighter than him at WrestleMania. However, Sheamus never told Cesaro and Sheamus kept asking Cesaro his weight leading up to the show and said he almost beat him the day of the show.

Cesaro tells us that he is back home in Switzerland for a couple of days.

Cesaro comes off as a likable guy and this seemed like a segment designed to showcase his personality but at the same time the segment itself was not memorable other than Cesaro saying he loves to do his performing in the ring and saying those who love long monologues on WWF TV that do not lead to anything should watch something else.

 

Graves now talks about The Fiend becoming the new Universal Champion and hopes the lack of outrage means the fans got what they wanted. Graves says he does not want to see The Fiend every week and wonders if we get another part-time champion. Graves puts him over but hates the red light during his matches.

We also hear Graves talk about Lesnar likely going to RAW to save his advocate from traveling but selfishly wants him back on Smackdown. He then talks about Lesnar vs. Rey Mysterio and how Lesnar versus smaller opponents almost always leads to magic.

Now, Graves shits on the Rusev/Lana/Lashley storyline. Talks about Rusev’s “smokeshow” of a wife bailing on him and then about Lashley while calling out the Long Island crowd for being on “mute.” Graves wants the feud to end and let the talented guys have a match while saying the story is like someone who was never been in a relationship writing their version of what a love triangle would be like before putting over the rest of RAW and the NXT talent.

 

Adam Cole

Cole talks about going to Smackdown and RAW at the last minute while saying its been both fun and stressful. Graves asks what it is like going live on Wednesday as Cole loves the excitement from the fans then talks about going from taped to live shows. Graves says that they have stricter standards on the USA Network as Cole says there has been some situations where they are going long or short a little bit as that could be taken care of on the taped shows. Later on, Cole admits he is still adapting to this process.

He also talks about wrestling Finn Balor in one of his Independent farewell matches before Balor went to NXT while putting him over as a main-event player and the dream matches he can have with those on the brand.

On going to Smackdown, Cole said he was told to be at Smackdown and the plane was leaving in 1.5 hours. Cole said they walked into the arena right when Lesnar & Heyman were finishing in the ring as Graves said they were on the charter flight during his match against Daniel Bryan. When asked about Bryan, Cole said that one of the first non-WWF wrestlers he was blown away by was Bryan. Cole said that he just started in RoH right as Bryan was leaving to go to WWE and this past Friday was their first match.

When asked about wrestling Rollins, Cole said he had about 24 hours notice for this match and talks up Rollins for a little bit.

Cole is asked about Shawn Michaels being a mentor for NXT as he talks about idolizing Shawn as a fan then said it is one of the most important things about his time in NXT.

Like Cesaro, Cole has a rep for being a great guy but this was really boring. The only point of this was to let people know how hard it is to wrestle on live WWE TV.

 

Final Thoughts: The major story here was what Graves said about the Saudi Arabia flight. Definitely a lot of him spreading the company message (which is to be expected) but at the same time it did not answer any question as to what exactly caused this problem. And internally calling it a “snafu” is a light way of putting it if you ask me. And if I was a talent and hearing all these excuses without answers then I would most certainly question the validity of the “mechanical issue” response. That situation causes lots of anxiety and breeds paranoia and in turn led to what we saw on Twitter and leaked to others covering wrestling. I cannot imagine locker room morale being high at the moment, especially with the travel getting even more rigorous for the next few weeks. The other thing of note was Fury saying he wants to wrestle Lesnar which I assume would be at another Saudi show but who knows. Graves spouting the company line is a bit less grating than Rollins I think and nothing was as bad here as that Bayley segment from last week but at the same time, most of this was really dull.