Welcome to another edition of Sportskeeda Wrestling’s WWE Rumor Review. The aim is to look back at big rumors from nearly a year ago and determine whether they were accurate.
The final days of 2021 were an interesting time, with multiple major stories emerging. This included a potential COVID-19 scare for WWE, while a female star reportedly quit the company.
There was a lot of talk about the feud between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar heading into Day 1. So, without further ado, let’s get into the Rumor Review.
5. Paul Heyman’s rumored betrayal of Brock Lesnar
— WWE (@WWE) February 3, 2022
Ahead of Day 1, there was a lot of speculation over Paul Heyman’s position between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. The Tribal Chief fired him before the show, but that was likely done to pull off a massive swerve.
Dave Meltzer reported in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Heyman could betray The Beast Incarnate once and for all, helping Reigns retain the Universal Championship. He added that turn would happen at WrestleMania 38 if Lesnar won at Day 1.
The planned match never happened as The Big Uce tested positive for COVID-19. However, the rumors were indeed true to an extent, as Paul Heyman turned on Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble after a brief reunion. He returned to Roman Reigns’ corner.
#4. Rumored update on possible changes to the Day 1 card
BREAKING: @BrockLesnar to challenge for WWE Championship tonight in Fatal 5-Way Match at #WWEDay1 following @WWERomanReigns testing positive for COVID-19. https://t.co/wXmr4kzcz5 pic.twitter.com/WrRFmDSRjR
— WWE (@WWE) January 1, 2022
WWE had quite a few issues with COVID-19 at the end of 2021, with several big stars missing shows due to a positive test or as precautions. On a late December episode of Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer mentioned that the company was trying to protect the main event matches for Day 1.
He stated that every advertised match would be happening, which obviously was not the case. Roman Reigns’ positive COVID-19 test meant his match against Brock Lesnar would be canceled.
The Beast Incarnate was instead added to the WWE Championship match between Big E, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, and Bobby Lashley. He won the title at the event and reunited with Paul Heyman on RAW before the above-mentioned betrayal took place
3. Jake Atlas signing with AEW
Congratulations on winning your tryout match last night, Jake Atlas! What a great @AEW debut, and now @kennymarquez, I’ll see you Tomorrow night in Newark at the debut of #AEWDynamite on @TBSNetwork! Safe travels, and…
Welcome to the team! #JakeAtlas is All Elite! pic.twitter.com/b9oDuGLZWZ
— Tony Khan (@TonyKhan) January 4, 2022
Jake Atlas made a surprise appearance at the AEW Dark tapings on December 28, 2021. He defeated Serpentico before Tony Khan shook his hand. This led to rumors that Atlas had been signed, with Dave Meltzer reporting on Wrestling Observer Radio that his performance impressed higher-ups in the promotion.
The former NXT Superstar indeed became All Elite after the match was aired. However, Jake Atlas suffered a knee injury in his next match against Adam Cole on Rampage. He was arrested over domestic battery charges in May and wouldn’t return to AEW.
#2. Toni Storm released by WWE
Just days after she challenged Charlotte Flair for the SmackDown Women’s Championship, Toni Storm was seemingly released by WWE. Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful reported that the former NXT UK Women’s Champion requested her release.
This was true, as Storm did leave the company on her own terms. She walked out right after facing Charlotte and Sasha Banks at a live event on December 29. Toni Storm would sign with AEW a few months later, winning their Women’s Championship at All Out 2022.
#1. Big plans for Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 38
The rumor mill ran wild once WrestleVotes reported that WWE wanted Stone Cold Steve Austin to have a meaningful role at WrestleMania 38 in Dallas. They also mentioned it would be in a non-wrestling capacity.
The rumor can be considered half-right, as Texas Rattlesnake was a significant part of the event. However, astonishingly, Austin did wrestle at The Show of Shows. Stone Cold main evented Night One of ‘Mania alongside Kevin Owens, defeating him with a Stunner in his first match since retiring in 2003.
It will be interesting to see if Steve Austin returns to WWE for WrestleMania 39 and if he will wrestle again.