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Stephanie’s announcement reportedly surprised many in WWE
Stephanie McMahon’s announcement Thursday that she was taking a leave of absence from the company was reportedly not expected by many within WWE.
In a statement posted to Twitter, McMahon said she was stepping back from the “majority” of her WWE duties for the time being to spend time with her family:
Stephanie also noted that WWE is a “lifelong legacy” for her and hinted that she will be back eventually.
WWE Chairman Vince McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie, has long held the executive position of Chief Brand Officer.
While most fans were surprised by the announcement, reportedly so were many of their peers.
According to PWInsider mike johnson“No one but the closest circle” at the company knew Stephanie’s announcement was coming.
Johnson added that most people in WWE he spoke to were “completely shocked” and “surprised” by McMahon’s decision.
While there has been much speculation as to why Stephanie is stepping down, she hasn’t publicly given a reason other than that she wanted to spend time with her family.
Stephanie’s husband, WWE legend and executive Triple H, has recently been battling some significant health issues and announced in March that he nearly died of a heart condition.
Triple H has therefore had to take some time off from his managerial duties, and although he announced his retirement from in-ring competition, he recently returned to work behind the scenes.
It’s unclear if Stephanie’s decision has anything to do with Triple H’s health issues, but her comments suggest her absence from WWE will be temporary rather than permanent.
Reigns’ Reported MITB, SummerSlam, Clash at the Castle Opponents
WWE has reportedly lined up the next three pay-per-view opponents for undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns.
According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Michael Perry of Ringside News) there are plans 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 play at Money in the Bank vs. Riddle on July 2, at SummerSlam vs. Orton on July 30, and at Clash at the Castle vs. McIntyre on September 3 to compete
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 scheduled a unification match for the Raw and SmackDown Tag Team Championships, but it was changed to a six-man match.
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 Riddle and Orton are scheduled to have individual title matches against Reigns, it could be a sign that the Usos want to win the unification match as that would free RK-Bro.
Also, on last week’s episode of SmackDown, WWE appeared to be heating up the start of a feud between Reigns and Riddle when Riddle hit The Tribal Chief with a hard knee to end the show.
The reported progression of Reigns’ opponents makes sense as it could beat Riddle and Orton ahead of a massive encounter with McIntyre at Clash at the Castle, a stadium show in Cardiff, Wales.
WWE hasn’t hosted a mainline pay-per-view in the UK since 2003, so viewership numbers are clamoring and firmly behind the Scottish superstar in McIntyre.
The company has apparently been waiting for a big moment to bring in McIntyre as a top babyface, and ending Reigns’ historic run as champion in Wales would go a long way toward making that happen.
The upcoming summer TV schedule of Reigns
As Reigns evolves into a large part of WWE’s summer programming, he will reportedly have a significant presence on the weekly program.
According to WrestlingInc’s Olivia Quinlan, WWE is promoting Reigns for almost every SmackDown through the July 30th SummerSlam event except for July 15th and 29th, although it is scheduled for the pre-SummerSlam Raw.
That seems to solidify the idea that Reigns will have big matches on the Money in the Bank and SummerSlam maps in July.
Earlier this month, Reigns sparked some speculation about his WWE future when he cut a promo after a house show in Trenton, NJ, saying he doesn’t know if he’ll ever wrestle in town again since he’s moved to a ” new phase” in his life.
Some assumed this meant Reigns would become a part-time superstar and move to Hollywood.
It was later reported by Andrew Zarian of the Mat Men Pro Wrestling Podcast (h/t Manik Aftab of Ringside News), however, that Reigns would merely adopt a lighter house show schedule.
Reigns’ forthcoming television schedule seems to support the notion that it won’t take away any significant time from the company, which is a good thing for the product.
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