Friday 4/1 Torch Today – Big Friday!, Nakamura launch, Jericho & Reigns gags, Stephanie interesting Q&A, Heyman blogs on Madusa, Riddle talks WWNLive intro & WWE goal, Rock talks Austin at WM15, big WM17 Anniversary, NFL Laurinaitis on Animal, Kane, Teddy Hart doc, Crims star talks Cpt. Lou, Videos – playable WM32 matches & EVOLVE recaps

By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor


Roman Reigns (artist Travis Beaven © PWTorch)

TORCH TODAY – Friday, April 1, 2016

– So, there’s a few things happening in Dallas today. It’s slightly overwhelming trying to fit in one, two, or even three things before all eyes turn to Kaiji Big Battel. … Of course, NXT Takeover, on Saturday night. Included is WWNLive’s big weekend kicking off with EVOLVE 58 on Friday afternoon. All six shows can be bought as part of one big package for $59.99 through the Fite TV App Superfan Package.

Ahead of NXT Takeover, WWE announced Friday the launch of Shinsuke Nakamura’s first t-shirt line. The shirt stylistically reads “Strong Style Has Arrived” on the front and “Nakamura” on the back.

At PWTorchLivecast.com: On-demand access to all of the big Livecast episodes previewing WrestleMania.

At PWPodcasts.com: Full Recap of Colt Cabana’s latest “Art of Wrestling” with special WrestleMania Week guest Virgil.

At MMATorch.com: The latest legal drama involving Jon Jones before his next UFC fight.

– To get an April Fool’s joke out of the way, here’s Chris Jericho

– Today’s Roman Reigns Moment. During Smackdown, the “WWE Universe” Twitter handlers tried to post a quote from Reigns that “if you put your whole heart into your dreams, NOTHING is possible.” Of course, they meant “NOTHING is impossible.” Reigns re-tweeted the original flub, adding “Lmao!!! Please don’t attach me to stupid statements like this!”

– WWE executive Stephanie McMahon did a Q&A on Quora.com discussing her role as a TV villain, the Attitude Era, the “challenges” of working with Vince McMahon and Triple H in the family business, feeling a collective sense of “disappointment” if the fans react negatively to the product, balancing home and work life, and her interesting career thoughts if not in WWE. If venturing outside of WWE, Stephanie said she would have been a “news anchor, dance choreographer, marine biologist, or poet.” (See Also: Linda McMahon sit-down talk with former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao as part of a speaking engagement at Sacred Heart University)

Paul Heyman’s latest blog on Yahoo Sports focuses on Madusa (Alundra Blayze) being the predecessor to Ronda Rousey.

– Former UFC fighter-turned pro wrestler Matthew Riddle talked to Yahoo Sports ahead of his EVOLVE Title shot against Timothy Thatcher at EVOLVE 58 on Friday. Riddle is essentially taking an extra training step working with WWNLive before heading to WWE, which is incorporated into his storyline. Riddle said he’s ready for the NXT call and hoping to quickly make the main WWE roster.

“If I do make WWE — because in my head, until it’s official, it’s not a thing — I think if they brought me in, it would be very short lived at NXT, and I’d be on main roster extremely quick,” Riddle said. “I got into the UFC after six months of training. I started doing jiu-jitsu, had my first fight, tried out for ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and got on. In my head, honestly I thought it [WWE contract] would come quicker. Because I got in the UFC in six months, I figured WWE would be quicker. [But] It’s way harder.”

– WWE star Kane was interviewed on 105.3 The Fan Dallas radio previewing WrestleMania and discussing his life as Glenn Jacobs outside of wrestling.

ESPN.com covered NFL player James Laurinaitis drawing his work ethic from his father “Road Warrior” Animal. Laurinaitis, who signed a free agent deal with the New Orleans in the off-season, talked about not liking to miss games, or even snaps within a game, after watching Animal not miss wrestling shows during his run.

“Really, what my dad showed me the most was just about work ethic. I saw how hard my dad worked in the weight room. I saw toughness. I saw him work out and perform in his industry through injuries and stuff. Unless something really couldn’t be worked around, he’d be out there wrestling and doing everything that he would have to do,” Laurinaitis said. “So that’s what he really taught me – on days that you don’t feel good, you gotta go work out, you gotta get after it.”

– A documentary on Teddy Hart is scheduled for completion this year. The filmmakers say the first 15 minutes will be shown on Bravo this spring after the series was originally picked up by Discovery Channel. Filmmaker Kurt Spenrath told CBC that Hart’s antics and manic personality made him question at times whether they “should be pointing a camera at a monster.”

“His wrestling persona and his real-life persona have blurred into this manic personality, so it’s hard to tell what he’s thinking. He’s very charismatic, so sometimes I think we kind of like him and sometimes we hate him. It flips back and forth,” said Spenrath.

– Criminal Minds TV star Kirsten Vangness (Penelope Garcia on Crims) talked about the influence of Captain Lou Albano on AfterBuzz TV’s “The Tomorrow Show” with Keven Undergaro. Included is a classic promo clip of Vince McMahon, Jr. holding the mic for a Cpt. Lou promo.

New Japan “Road to Invasion Attack” Results from Friday building to Invasion Attack on April 10.

– The Houston Chronicle noted the 15-year anniversary of WrestleMania 17 at the Astrodome on April 1, 2001. The article noted it was WWE’s highest-grossing event in company history to that point… and also featured the recurring Vince vs. Shane TV feud.

– Two years earlier … In a new Instagram post, The Rock reflected on WrestleMania 15 facing “Stone Cold” Steve Austin for the WWF Title when other wrestlers thought he shouldn’t be in the spot, but Austin went to bat for him in classic Stone Cold fashion…

1999, #WrestleMania15 – Philly. I'm the hottest heel in the company and the youngest (and brashest) WWE Champion is history. My opponent was the one and only Stone Cold Steve Austin. At that time, Austin was the biggest wrestling box office star in the world and our leader who created and ushered in our now infamous #AttitudeEra. Austin was also an EXTREMELY shrewd and smart business man when it came to his opponents and always had the final say with who he would get in the ring with. Despite many attempts from a few "main event wrestlers" on the roster at that time who complained to Vince McMahon saying "Rock has no business being in the main event at WrestleMania", it was Austin who when I went to him and asked how we should handle the complaints, he responded with the greatest answer I'll never forget, "F*ck those motherf*ckers. We're here to draw and make money and that's exactly what we're gonna do. We draw big money then everyone benefits." The Rock vs Austin feud would go on to become the #1 box office drawing feud in the history of pro wrestling and the WWE. Even though I lost the WWE title (which is considered an honor in our business) to Austin that night in my mind I literally felt like I was king of the world. I even celebrated like a wild man by ordering a big ass pizza to my hotel room. Today, me and the Texas Rattlesnake are good buddies. Love that dude and I'll always be grateful to him for takin' me under his wing, teaching me the business philosophy that I still utilize today of "F*ck them we're here to make money" and making me drink more beer nightly than I've ever had in my life. Happy to share these "behind the curtain" stories with y'all to give you some insight and context to the crazy, complicated and amazing wrestling world that's in my DNA. Again, it's my honor and privilege to ELECTRIFY DALLAS and the #WWEUniverse this SUNDAY at #WrestleMania32. #PeoplesChamp4L *raises a beer Austin style and slowly chugs it Rock style.

A video posted by therock (@therock) on

Video Updates

2K Sports released a new “WrestleMania Trailer” showing the WrestleMania matches playable in the “WWE 2k16” video game.

WWNLive released a full video recap of their previous EVOLVE 56 & 57 events heading into this weekend’s EVOLVE 58 & 59 shows.

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