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Keanu Reeves on The Rock: “He knows storytelling.”

By Justin Barrasso
May 15, 2019

SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath the surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.

Keanu Reeves on The Rock: ‘He knows storytelling’

Keanu Reeves has a role in mind for The Rock.

If Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is available, then Reeves would be thrilled to have “The People’s Champion” in the next John Wick film.

“I’ve never met him, but I’m a big fan,” said Reeves. “If he likes John Wick and we can get something to cook up, that would be so much fun.”

Reeves is the star and driving force of the John Wick series, which has its third installment, John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, open in theaters this Thursday.

A Hollywood staple of the past three decades, Reeves has watched closely as Johnson transitioned onto the big screen following an effervescent run in WWE.

“I’m not surprised by his success, not at all,” said Reeves. “He’s been an entertainer for a long time, so he knows storytelling. He also knows sport and physicality, and he’s very dynamic and charismatic. He’s a great hero, great anti-hero, and his action is great.”

Reeves grew up a wrestling fan, and he still cherishes childhood memories at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.

“I was exposed to pro wrestling through my nanny,” said Reeves. “I was a little kid and we went to a few live events. She loved The Sheik. There was also a lot of wrestling on television. We got Buffalo feeds, so we’d get local wrestling, too.”

Similar to the pro wrestling business with pay per views, Reeves takes a risk with his John Wick franchise with each new installment of the series as he does not know how the audience will react to his storytelling.

“You come up with stuff and hope the audience likes it, but we can’t predict it,” said Reeves. “We can only hope. After Chapter Two, Chad Stahelski, the director and visionary of the Wick films, he and I had ideas. But we didn’t know if we’d have a chance to tell them because we didn’t know how the audience would react to Chapter Two. It was received warmly, which was great, and gave us the opportunity for Chapter Three.

The believability factor was on point in the film, with realistic characters and gripping fight scenes that made viewers believe in their authenticity.

“We had a bunch of ideas of where John would go in Chapter Three. We wanted to open the world of the Continental, the High Table, introduce new characters, and there were lots of ideas for different situations of John Wick action.”

The Wick films have led to a career renaissance for Reeves. While Reeves may not have the clairvoyance to know which film will be a box office attraction, he always remains thankful for those who support his work.

“I’m grateful, humble, and appreciative for all the support,” said Reeves. “It doesn’t happen without support creatively, artistically, financially from the people who pay for it, and all of that happens because there is an audience that enjoys the stories that I’m a part of telling.”

Money in the Bank and Super Showdown offer two very different cards

WWE’s Money in the Bank takes place this Sunday, headlined by two “Money in the Bank” ladder matches, two Becky Lynch title matches, Kofi Kingston defending the WWE championship against Kevin Owens, and a showdown between Universal Champion Seth Rollins and AJ Styles.

But the card, which is a fitting follow-up pay per view to WrestleMania 35, already pales in comparison to the star power of the upcoming Super Showdown show from Saudi Arabia on June 9.

The Undertaker vs. Goldberg has already been announced for the Saudi show, as has Triple H against Randy Orton. There will also be a 50-man battle royal, as well as endless criticism for WWE’s decision to return to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Brock Lesnar is being advertised for the show, but conspicuous by his absence on the ads for the event is Daniel Bryan, who chose not to travel to Saudi Arabia when WWE visited for a show in November.

Despite a card that does not compare with June’s Showdown, this Sunday’s show is far more important. Becky Lynch is likely to lose one of her two titles (which will allow for one champion on SmackDown and another on Raw), and in addition to the world title matches, the “Money in the Bank” matches will help define the WWE’s direction moving forward in 2019.

Three out of the past four Money in the Bank winners (Braun Strowman, Baron Corbin and Sheamus) have had uneventful runs with the briefcase (Dean Ambrose is the lone exception). But hope springs eternal for this year’s winner, which is likely to be Drew McIntyre. If McIntyre wins, the addition of the briefcase will add some excitement to Raw.

As for the women’s ladder match, either Mandy Rose or Bayley would add a lot of excitement to the women’s division with the briefcase. So much of the impending direction of the division will depend on the two Lynch title matches, where she defends the Raw title against Lacey Evans and then the SmackDown title against Charlotte Flair.

A sleeper for this Sunday is the SmackDown tag title match of Daniel Bryan and Erick Rowan against The Usos.

Bayley on the significance of her NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn match with Sasha Banks from 2015

WrestleMania 35 will forever be known as the first WrestleMania where women main-evented the show. Becky Lynch, Ronda Rousey, and Charlotte Flair made history in that match, but the road for such an opportunity was paved in the summer of 2015. Bayley and Sasha Banks combined for an industry-changing match at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn that August, placing an exclamation mark on a wildly entertaining chapter between the two performers before their call-up to the main roster.

“That match is such a milestone, and no one is ever going to take that away from us,” said Bayley, who is 29-year-old Pamela Martinez. “It was important to us as people and as performers, so it is special that people appreciate it so much.”

The NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn match between Bayley and Banks did not serve as the main event—that honor belonged to a ladder match for the NXT title between Finn Balor and Kevin Owens—but left an indelible mark on wrestling history, particularly for the trajectory of women performers in WWE.

“We’re proud of how far the division has come,” said Bayley. “We knew that it was going to come to this point because that’s what we were working for. We weren’t going to take no for an answer. We weren’t going to stop until it happened and keeps happening and keeps happening.”

The humble Bayley is amazed by the way she is admired by such a dedicated fan base, sharing that she once experienced those same feelings of excitement and joy whenever she watched her favorites.

“I still get that way around the Hardy Boyz,” said a laughing Bayley. “I still remember how I felt watching them every day, I recorded all their matches. Now when we get to see kids that way with us, I always ask myself, ‘How did I get on this side of it?’ There is something really special about the WWE and wrestling that connects with a lot of people.”

Bayley no longer has the tag team title on her shoulder, but she remains resolute in her goal every time she steps into a WWE ring.

“Making magic one day at a time,” said Bayley. “It is a good challenge.”

The (Online) Week in Wrestling

AEW is coming to TNT with a live weekly TV show beginning some time later this year. 

• WWE levied a $100,000 fine on Lars Sullivan for his history of posting extremely offensive content on online message boards. The posts were compiled on Reddit. The Sullivan story was also a topic of discussion among the WWE talent, including Big E:

• This Vince McMahon piece—which is the cover story of the latest Variety—offers another fascinating look at the driving force behind the WWE.

• Seth Rollins dropped some major personal news:

Mauro Ranallo reupped with NXT, but broadcast colleague Percy Watson is leaving.

• RIP Silver King, who is gone far too soon.

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César González...vaya con dios, hermano 💙

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WWE sets the table for Conrad Thompson’s Starrcast moment

There is an old expression that states, “Man makes plans. God laughs.”

In the world of professional wrestling, there is no higher deity than WWE’s Vince McMahon. And while Conrad Thompson made plans, McMahon interrupted them.

One of the biggest stories of the week was WWE’s debut of a 30-minute special on the WWE Network after Raw on Monday that included the famed match between Bret Hart and Tom Magee many feared had been lost to history. 

The match took place on an untelevised event on October 7, 1986. McMahon was said to be so enamored with the match that he believed that he’d found his next Hulk Hogan in Magee, when the reality was Hart carried the entire match. Nevertheless, the legend of the match—and Magee—continued.

Video of the match was recently discovered by dedicated wrestling fan Mary-Kate Anthony, which was euphoric news for those who have heard about the match for decades.

[youtube:https://twitter.com/marykayfabe/status/1110720558335963137]

Conrad Thompson engineered a fantastic event for his Starrcast II extravaganza, with a panel featuring Hart, Magee, and The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer to analyze the match.

But WWE scooped Thompson by releasing the doc and the including the full match two weeks before the event at Starrcast. When asked about WWE’s decision to air the match in such close proximity to Starrcast, Thompson complimented WWE’s decision to entrust the documentary to wildly talented producer Giancarlo Dittamo.

“I’m really glad it was Giancarlo who worked on the project,” said Thompson. “He’s entertained me for years with all his fun videos for GCW and Joey Janela’s Spring Break shows, so to see him do something for the WWE Network was really cool.”

Thompson holds no bitterness toward WWE, and remains ecstatic for his Hart/Magee panel at Starrcast, which is also available online on FITE.

“Once the tape was found, it was a mad dash to figure out what to do with it,” said Thompson. “I made a deal with Magee in late March, and I knew that WWE was going to do something with the video, but I was excited to see Giancarlo’s touch. But I don’t think it hurts Starrcast. There is more anticipation to see Bret and Tom together, and that’s going to really special.”

Thompson will also return to the airwaves this Friday with his “Something to Wrestle” podcast with Bruce Prichard, examining WWE’s Judgment Day from on May 16, 2004.

“We’re a couple of months into a new era following WrestleMania 20,” said Thompson. “The Rock is gone, Austin is gone, Goldberg is gone, and Brock is gone. The company is building Eddie Guerrero and JBL, and we’re going to cover every aspect of that timeframe as well as that match.”

Tweet of the Week

I can’t get enough of the new Bray Wyatt.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

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