wrestling / TV Reports

411’s WWE Backstage Report: Cesaro On The Growth of NXT, Panel Talks IC Title Tournament, More

May 20, 2020 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
WWE Backstage

-Before I ever became part of the 411 team I was a daily reader and Larry was the person I spent the most time reading. Even after I was brought on the team in 2008, Larry’s reviews were something I would seek out immediately as a show ended. His output was second to none and became the stuff of legends. When I joined 411, Larry was the person that I sought out for any advice and looked at him as my “boss.” He would often go out of his way to throw ideas my way about shows that needed covered and would use reviews of matches I did for special columns the staff would do. I was always honored he did that as his reviews of matches and shows were the standard to which I always tried to reach. I soon realized I couldn’t and opted to go the route of reviewing WWE Network shows and Larry was right there to offer me more. In the last year as Larry had his health issues, I had others from the staff be my contact, but Larry still took care of me as he recommended me for the Backstage gig.

-The best memory I have though is the e-mail I still have that he sent when my son was born in 2017. Larry was a family man and the love for his family was clearly seen by his social media posts. I did coverage of Talking Smack while in the hospital the night my son was born and the e-mail from Larry only wanted to know the details about my son. He knew of the struggles my wife and I had with miscarriages and he was there to listen if I needed someone. I never met the man, but he always told me I was good people because, like him, I was from SW PA. I kind of regret never getting the chance to meet him, but as a fan and then a person that worked with him I feel like I knew him. His writing had a way of making you feel like you knew him and was a source of great enjoyment. Funny enough, I often go back to some of his Hogan Knows Best reviews of all things because I can’t help but crack up laughing. The world lost a great man and the IWC lost the hardest working man in the business. That doesn’t compare though to the loss for his family of a father and husband. My condolences to his family first and to all those that knew him better than me. My heart breaks for everyone that has been affected by his loss whether family, friend, or fan.

-To Larry I say thank you for the years of entertainment and then for letting me write about this crazy business we loved. Thank you for you being a mentor and friend. The IWC world is never going to be the same and I know I will be looking for your reviews out of habit for quite some time. I know it’s going to be hard for you, but rest easy now Boss. You will be sorely missed!”

-Welcome to your weekly Backstage Coverage as we continue the build to Backlash. The social distancing continues, but that hasn’t stopped this from being a fun show to watch. This week Cesaro has been promised and I am sure we will touch on any other hot topics in the land of the WWE. Let’s get to it!

-Show opening!

-Renee Young welcomes us and she is joined by her co-host, Booker T and on the panel this week: Ember Moon, and Mark Henry.

-The lead in for this show was a 2 hour block of the Ruthless Aggression series, so we start there. Booker and Mark are asked about that period and Booker says he was one of the hungry guys looking to find a position. Mark says he heard the brass ring stories and if you wanted it, then you had to go get it. It showed him that the young guys were going to be given an opportunity and he ran with the ball.

-Weekly Recap: Charlotte returns to SmackDown to set-up a match with Bayley, Bryan beats Gulak in the IC Title Tournament, and Otis teases cashing in on Braun. On RAW Edge accepts the challenge of Orton, Theory becomes a Rollins disciple and Lashley is next for Drew McIntyre.

-Back to the panel and Renee starts with the rise of Lashley in the WWE Title picture. Booker talks about Lashley being the next one when he left the company, but he went off and did MMA. Now he is back after working for some other companies and he loves seeing this pairing. Ember loves that MVP has been speaking the truth about Lashley and he needs to be in this spot and away from Lana. Mark thinks Lashley needs to learn to say no and not be such a nice guy. He needs to show a mean streak and leave everyone in the ring on the ground. He thinks MVP has enough edge that he will sharpen Lashley.

-Everyone agrees that ditching Lana would be for the best. Booker takes it another step and brings up that women weaken knees (legs as Mark corrects him). Ember brings up that Sharmell was a great pairing with Booker, but this isn’t working with Lana and Lashley. She makes you forget that Lashley is a bad ass. Booker feels that Lashley is in a spot where he finally gets it and has a chip on his shoulder now. Mark says everyone wants to see Bobby unleashed and desperate with hate in his heart.

-Renee wants the fans to turn the Brauan/Otis Double Caterpillar into a Tik Tok video. Braun tweeted about his caterpillar being ugly, but a lot better that the nip up from Miz. Henry calls it the worst worm he has ever seen and he knows he can do a better one than Strowman. Booker and Mark get into an argument about Booker inventing the spin-a-roni and then Mark corrects Booker on his thought that Michael Jackson invented the moonwalk.

-With that we take out first commercial break.

-Renee welcomes us back and her and Ember are joined by our guest this week, Cesaro. He is back home in Switzerland as the background shows off a mountain he loves to climb. Renee brings up that fans and peers consider Cesaro one of the best in the business (she’s not lying). Cesaro is honored and loves the advice Cena gave him that you are only as good as your last match. Ember asks about his approach that not only elevates himself, but also his opponent. He says he has a blank canvas with each match and never wants to do the same thing. He doesn’t want to have a Five Moves of Doom and always wants to do something different that the fans don’t expect. He takes the approach that his matches have to be must see as they aren’t going to be the same. He loves live events because that is where you can try new things and be spontaneous.

-Renee brings up NXT and NXT UK and wants to know Cesaro’s thoughts on the growth of the brand. Cesaro brings up that it started as a outlet to just get guys on some type of TV and now it is a clear third brand. He loved the Survivor Series build last year as NXT was on equal level as RAW and SmackDown. It is now a must see show that he has to watch every week. He calls NXT a proving ground and brings up all the NXT guys that have showed up on RAW and SmackDown and how the fans feel they are one of their own since they saw them come up through the system. He calls NXT UK the best kept secret in the WWE and says it was a privilege to be part of it. He thinks it is cool that Europe has an outlet like that.

-We see a clip of Cesaro having to pay a debt from losing a game of Uno Flip to Woods and others online. We then get the awesomeness of Cesaro doing manly things while Regal’s “Real Man’s Man” song plays. That alone makes this show for me! One of the greatest themes in the history of the history. Renee and Ember are cracking up as Cesaro says his punishment was to sing it, but he didn’t think he could it justice so he made the video.

-Renee brings up that Cesaro is famous for his dad jokes and is given the chance to toss one out. Cesaro: “I don’t know if you know, but earlier today I was attacked by 6 dwarfs. Not Happy!” Okay, I laughed a good bit at that one, but I am a dad, and I have always been a sucker for jokes like that. Cesaro says those are the jokes that he likes and “I like jokes about eyes. The cornea the better.” Wait, I think Eminem used that as a pun on his latest album. Cesaro then gives one about breaking up with his luggage and now having to deal with emotional baggage. I love this man!


-Video from the latest episode of the ‘The Last Ride’ is shown and it’s where Taker watched back the Mania match with Reigns. Taker was annoyed by his performance and felt the need to redeem himself.

-Mark is very surprised that Taker is letting fans get that look behind the scenes. He calls Taker one of the most private men he has ever met. He says seeing that is the last line of defense telling the world to usher in the new world of wrestling.

-Booker is asked if there is a match he wishes he could do over again, and he says that everyone questions themselves at some point. He wishes he could do over his match with Angle at Judgment Day when they were in the middle of the Kurt stalks Sharmell angle. Booker says the match ended early as the ref counted three when Booker tried a wrestling hold and they still had 15 minutes to go. Kurt wanted to kill the ref and Booker was disappointed, but had to celebrate because he was the winner. They wanted to be Savage/Steamboat and then never had another match together.

-Mark jokes that he has never had a bad match, but then brings up the first match he had with Big Show. He compares it to two junior high kids trying to kiss for the first time. It was a house show match leading to something down the line. They talked about it and Show told him something like that can never happen again.

-Ember looks back at her career in WWE and could say she should have been the one to end Asuka’s streak, but for her she can’t look back in regret. She gets emotional as she talks about coming back from her injury and she can’t look back as she needs to look forward. She brings up that Booker jokes she is finished and he tells her it was always a joke. Mark goes off as he tells Ember she is too great to stop know and that he has been there and she has a lot left in the tank. Wow, things got real there! Ember says she will proof to everyone that she can redeem any mistakes and everyone on the panel can’t wait to see it.


-IC Tournament Recap: Bryan and Elias advance with Hardy/Sheamus and AJ/Nakamura still to come in the first round.

-The panel is asked if The IC Title should be the “Worker’s Title.” Ember feels it should be prestigious and should be about the wrestling. The title needs to be used to make wrestling important again. Mark feels Daniel Bryan is the best choice, but wants to see AJ and Daniel tear the house down. Booker brings up guys like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart making him a fan with their wrestling. He mentions Aleister Black who is not even in the tournament and is on RAW. Ember brings up that Nakamura is still in the field, but Booker isn’t worried about the field and just wants to see Aleister be unleashed in the ring.

-Ember brings up the title needing storylines, but Booker interrupts as he doesn’t think a storyline is needed. He brings up how he won the TV Title and he just wanted to defend it on TV every week and at house shows. Mark says they need storylines as it needs to be more than just Sheamus and Shin throwing kicks and then getting hurt. Ember wants to see best of 7 series to see who can get a title shot at Daniel Bryan or whoever. The fight needs to have a purpose.

-Mark gives Renee props for the way she conducted the interview with Daniel Bryan and how she gave him the mic. She brings up that she has spent a lot of emotional times with Bryan and you have to just let him have that moment. That reminds me, I miss Talking Smack!


-Back to Ruthless Aggression and Renee, Mark, and Booker discuss the initial brand split Booker says it was as real as real could be. The split gave people a chance and Booker mentions he was traded to SmackDown. That had him hot at first, but then he felt he could take things to a new level. He puts over that the entire roster had the goal to beat Monday Night RAW. He brings up that everyone on SmackDown was working in the same direction and pushing each other as they would make it up the card. Mark thinks there is still a rivalry between the brands. He brings up that he was in OVW for a period and they had John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton, Brock, and CM Punk. When he was coming up it was hard to get a spot because you had guys like Bret, Shawn, and Austin. With the brand split it gave him a chance and you had to step up or get out of the way.


-Apparently this new midnight spot is going to stick for a while as next week we get the FCW Story at 10 PM and then Backstage two hours later.

-Becky’s pregnancy announcement is covered and the panel discusses Gender Reveal Ideas. Booker wants Elias to break a guitar over someone with powder flying out to reveal and we get some added in graphics to show us what that would look like. Mark wants Austin brought in and a beer bash with him smashing beers together to reveal the gender. Ember wants them to ride out on a tank like DX and the pyro reveal the secret. Renee votes for Asuka and her mist. I think of the 4, I like that idea the best.

-Again, I love this show and find it an easy and enjoyable watch. Cesaro was great as he showed a ton of personality and came off charming and humble. Also we can’t forget the dad jokes and the greatness of “Real Man’s Man.” Everything else was just icing on the cake. As always thanks for reading!

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WWE Backstage, Robert Leighty Jr.