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Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.
Stephanie’s Announcement Reportedly Surprised Many in WWE
Many within WWE reportedly weren’t expecting Stephanie McMahon’s announcement Thursday that she is taking a leave of absence from the company.
In a statement released on Twitter, McMahon said she would be stepping down from the “majority” of her WWE responsibilities for the time being to spend time with her family:
Stephanie also noted that WWE is a “lifelong legacy” for her and indicated that she will be back at some point.
The daughter of WWE chairman Vince McMahon, Stephanie has long held the executive position of chief brand officer.
While most fans were caught off guard by the announcement, that was reportedly the case for many of her colleagues as well.
According to PWInsider’s Mike Johnson, “no one but the most inner circle” of the company knew Stephanie’s announcement was coming.
Johnson added that most people in WWE he spoke to were “completely shocked” and “taken aback” by McMahon’s decision.
While there has been plenty of speculation why Stephanie is stepping away, she didn’t give a reason publicly beyond wanting to spend time with her family.
Stephanie’s husband, WWE legend and executive Triple H, recently dealt with some significant health challenges and revealed in March that he nearly died because of a heart condition.
Triple H had to take some time away from his executive duties as a result, and although he announced his retirement from in-ring competition, he recently returned to work behind the scenes.
It is unclear if Stephanie’s decision has anything to do with Triple H’s health issues, but her comments suggest that her absence from WWE will be temporary rather than permanent.
Reigns’ Reported MITB, SummerSlam, Clash at the Castle Opponents
WWE reportedly has undisputed WWE universal champion Roman Reigns’ next three pay-per-view opponents lined up.
According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Michael Perry of Ringside News), plans are in place for Reigns to defend against Riddle, Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre.
Meltzer noted that while the plans aren’t set in stone, they call for Reigns to face Riddle at Money in the Bank on July 2, Orton at SummerSlam on July 30 and McIntyre at Clash at the Castle on Sept. 3.
At the WrestleMania Backlash pay-per-view earlier this month, Reigns teamed with The Usos in a six-man tag team match against RK-Bro and McIntyre, and The Bloodline was victorious.
RK-Bro and The Usos had previously been scheduled to have a unification match for the Raw and SmackDown Tag Team Championships, but it was changed to a six-man.
RK-Bro made it clear after the pay-per-view that they still wanted the unification match, however, and it was made official for Friday’s episode of SmackDown.
If the plan is for Riddle and Orton to have individual title matches against Reigns, it could be a sign that The Usos are planned to win the unification match, as it would free up RK-Bro.
Also, on last week’s episode of SmackDown, WWE did seem to tease the start of a Reigns vs. Riddle feud, as Riddle hit The Tribal Chief with a hard knee strike to close the show.
The reported progression of Reigns’ opponents makes sense, as he could beat Riddle and Orton before a massive meeting with McIntyre at Clash at the Castle, which is a stadium show in Cardiff, Wales.
WWE has not held a main roster pay-per-view in the United Kingdom since 2003, so the crowd figures to be raucous and firmly behind the Scottish Superstar in McIntyre.
The company has seemingly been holding out for a huge moment to get McIntyre over as the top babyface, and ending Reigns’ historic run as champion in Wales would go a long way toward accomplishing that.
Reigns’ Upcoming Summer TV Schedule
With Reigns shaping up to be a huge part of WWE’s summer programming, he will reportedly have a significant presence on weekly programming.
According to WrestlingInc’s Olivia Quinlan, WWE is advertising Reigns for almost every SmackDown through the July 30 SummerSlam event with the exception of July 15 and 29, although he is scheduled for the pre-SummerSlam Raw.
That seemingly solidifies the idea that Reigns will have big matches on the Money in the Bank and SummerSlam cards in July.
Earlier this month, Reigns created some speculation regarding his WWE future when he cut a promo after a house show in Trenton, New Jersey, and said he didn’t know if he would ever wrestle in the city again since he was entering a “new phase” in his life.
Some assumed that meant Reigns was going to become a part-time Superstar and transition to Hollywood.
It was later reported by Andrew Zarian of the Mat Men Pro Wrestling Podcast (h/t Manik Aftab of Ringside News) that Reigns was merely going to take on a lighter house show schedule, however.
Reigns’ upcoming television schedule seems to support the notion that he isn’t taking any kind of significant time away from the company, which is a good thing for the product.
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