UFC’s White Talks Brock Lesnar, Ronda Rousey; Booker T on CM Punk; WWE Rumors on NXT | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors
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Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.
White Says Lesnar, Rousey Won’t Be Part of UFC 300
UFC president Dana White shot down speculation that two huge stars from the past could potentially be part of UFC 300, which is expected to take place in spring 2024.
Speaking to Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated, White was definitive in saying Lesnar and Rousey won’t be involved with arguably the biggest event in UFC history:
“I get why everybody asks,” White said. “I love that everybody loves them like that, and with so much passion. I do, too. But they’re definitely not coming back for UFC 300. … I’m focused on [UFC 295 at] Madison Square Garden. But no, they’re not coming back.”
Lesnar, who is a former UFC heavyweight champion, competed at both UFC 100 and UFC 200.
When he returned to fight at UFC 200 in 2016, it was Lesnar’s first MMA bout in nearly five years. The Beast Incarnate handily beat Mark Hunt by unanimous decision, but it was later overturned to a no contest after Lesnar tested positive for the banned substance clomiphene.
Lesnar retired from MMA and stayed with WWE afterward, and he remains under a WWE contract.
Rousey is the inaugural UFC women’s bantamweight champion, and she is perhaps most responsible for taking women’s MMA to new heights.
She won her first 12 career MMA fights in dominant fashion, including her first six UFC bouts, but she was shocked by Holly Holm at UFC 193 in 2015.
Rousey returned to the Octagon one year later, losing to Amanda Nunes, which prompted her to leave MMA and join WWE.
During her two stints with WWE, Rousey became a two-time SmackDown women’s champion, one-time Raw women’s champion and one-time WWE women’s tag team champion, and she was part of the first women’s match to ever headline WrestleMania at WrestleMania 35.
After losing to longtime friend Shayna Baszler at SummerSlam in August, Rousey seemingly left WWE. She had a match last month for independent wrestling company Lucha VaVoom and will have a match this month for Wrestling Revolver as well.
It is unclear what the future holds for Rousey, but it does seem as though she is still focused on pro wrestling rather than MMA.
Booker T Could See Punk Returning to WWE
Count WWE Hall of Famer and NXT commentator Booker T among those who believe CM Punk could possibly return to WWE.
Speaking on his Hall of Fame podcast (h/t Felix Upton of Ringside News), Booker expressed his belief that the door is never fully shut for big-name talents to return to WWE, including Punk:
“I could see CM Punk wanting to find his way back into the WWE. I could see that. We’re talking about it right now. Also, I’m gonna go out on a limb here. I’m not gonna put it past WWE hiring him back. I don’t know, I can’t say. But I do know that just about everybody that’s left WWE has come back, no matter what problems they’ve had. Even The Ultimate Warrior, I don’t think anybody thought The Ultimate Warrior would come back.”
After Punk was released from AEW in September due to an alleged backstage altercation with “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry at All In, rumors and speculation regarding Punk possibly returning to WWE for the first time since 2014 instantly popped up.
Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Upton) reported last month that while Punk had interest in going back to WWE, the company “turned him down.”
However, Meltzer noted that a source told him “there’s no such thing as ‘no forever’ when it comes to WWE,” so a reunion could still be as possibility down the road.
Survivor Series later this month has been mentioned as a popular spot for Punk to make his return appearance since it is taking place in his hometown of Chicago, but Fightful Select (h/t Upton) reported that Punk has told people close to him he won’t be at Survivor Series and isn’t in talks with WWE.
Punk is perhaps more of a luxury than a need for WWE at this point, but if WWE ever decides it needs a boost, Punk is by far the biggest free agent available, and he could provide it.
Details on NXT’s New TV Deal with The CW
WWE announced Tuesday that it agreed to a five-year television rights deal with The CW that will see NXT air on the network beginning in October 2024.
Since 2019, NXT has aired on USA Network after previously being exclusive to WWE Network, but The CW deal will mark the first time NXT will be featured on a broadcast television network.
WWE is said to be “thrilled” with the deal since it figures to increase NXT’s exposure, and comes with a significant increase in TV rights fees.
Fightful noted that while it was stated on a TKO earnings call that the current NXT rights fee of $15 million per year will increase by 70 percent as part of the contract with The CW, a WWE source said the increase will be closer to 200 percent.
When NXT first moved to USA Network, it went head to head to AEW Dynamite in what many dubbed the Wednesday Night War.
Dynamite won the ratings battle the vast majority of the time over the course of about a year and a half before NXT moved to Tuesday nights.
That coincided with WWE shifting its focus toward NXT becoming more of a true developmental show featuring primarily less-experienced wrestlers.
With WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels leading the way, NXT has created several new stars and has seen its television ratings increase significantly over the past year, which is likely a big part of the reason why WWE was able to land the deal with The CW.
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