Posts Tagged ‘NXT’

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Former ROH World Champion Kyle O’Reilly made his WWE debut at the NXT tapings on Wednesday night at Full Sail University.

Facing Aleister Black in singles action, the Canadian didn’t undergo a name change (ironically unlike his opponent, who was switched from Tommy End upon signing a WWE contract) and was simply billed as Kyle O’Reilly. There was even a huge graphic emblazoned on the tron to confirm the O’Reilly name is here to stay.

There had been rumours that O’Reilly was set to sign with WWE for a few months, but this was his first appearance for the company. His NXT debut comes hot on the heels of his former tag-team partner Bobby Fish also losing to Black on TV, so WWE may be tempted to use the pair as a team.

Collectively known as reDRagon, Fish and O’Reilly held the ROH Tag-Team Titles on 3 separate occasions and are 2-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Champs. In addition, the team also won the 2014 Super Junior Tag-Team Tournament in NJPW.

O’Reilly’s first match for WWE is scheduled to air on the August 2 episode of NXT.

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Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter

Mauro Ranallo is signed under a new two-year contract to provide commentary for WWE NXT, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. As part of his deal to return to the company, he’ll report directly to Triple H, who runs NXT, and Michael Cole, who produces NXT.

It was reported in the latest issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that comments made by John “Bradshaw” Layfield on the March 13, 2017 episode of “Bring It To The Table” on the WWE Network were “the straw that broke the camel’s back” and led to Ranallo leaving WWE and “suffering a severe breakdown.”

However, in the same report, it’s noted JBL was not the reason Ranallo left. There were problems between the two where it got to the point where JBL would block anyone that wished Ranallo well on his health or praised his work outside of WWE. But his comments on “Bring It To The Table” were not done on his own, which explains an issue that went deeper than a beef between two co-workers.

Ranallo’s statement on his return to WWE read as follows:

“WWE and I mutually agreed to end my responsibilities on Smackdown having nothing to do with rumors about disputes. As I remained under contract with WWE, we discussed a variety of options. Despite originally agreeing to part ways, there was always a desire to continue working together. We have come to terms on a new agreement that benefits both WWE and me, and I am thrilled to announce I will now be part of the NXT broadcast team.”

Ranallo’s contract replaces his old agreement with WWE. He’ll report directly to Hunter and Michael Cole, who were the two who made the original push to bring him to SmackDown when WWE was looking to make changes to the show for the move to live on the USA Network early last year.

It was Triple H that re-introduced Ranallo to the live NXT crowd at Full Sail, calling him the “Bipolar Rock’n’Roller,” a nickname he used years back but had not used previously in WWE.

Ranallo’s WWE NXT contract is for approximately 18-20 dates per year, opposed to the roughly 75-80 dates he had as the voice of SmackDown. His new deal includes NXT television tapings and the TakeOver shows, while his old deal had pay-per-views and his work on main roster television.

Ranallo has a studio in his Los Angeles home where he can do changes to his original commentary so he won’t have to fly to Florida or Connecticut for post-production work. His new deal with WWE is not exclusive as he’ll continue to work for Bellator MMA and Showtime Boxing.

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Source: E&C Pod Of Awesomeness

NXT Champion Bobby Roode was recently a guest on E&C’s Pod Of Awesomeness and spoke with sports entertainment legends Edge and Christian on a number of topics including changing his look over the years, why he and Eric Young did not get WWE developmental deals prior to their current runs with NXT, whether Impact Wrestling‘s light schedule was a help or hinderance, and how he got to NXT.

According to Roode, there were “questionable times” with respect to his look over the years, as he kept changing things up at the suggestion of Johnny Ace, also known as John Laurinaitis, the former head of WWE Talent Relations. Roode admitted that he thought it was a rib.

“There was a time I had bleach blonde [hair]. For a period of time, I wore bleach blonde hair. I had a nice purple cape. Actually, I made Velocity, so that footage is out there. So honestly, the craziest thing is, like, I wanted to be a part of the WWE so bad, I wanted to be a part of the business so bad, that I would do anything. I was doing whatever they asked me to do, like, at times, I just thought Johnny Ace was ribbing me because every time I’d go there, he’d go, ‘well, I think you need to do something different. I think next time you should do this, next time you should do that. Maybe you should do this, maybe you should do that.’ So every time I would come back, I would look different or try to have some new gear or something different that made me kind of stick out. There [were] some questionable times, definitely, with my appearance.”

Moreover, Roode claimed it was “baffling” that Laurinaitis said he and Eric Young were “too TV ready” for a developmental deals at the time, but this fuelled ‘The Glorious One’.

“I think the worst, and I’m going to say ‘excuse’, is, yeah, was that… and I was told that EY and I, at the same time, we were together and Johnny Ace said we were ‘too TV ready’ to be put in developmental, so basically that we were too good at that point to get a job, which was baffling, which is baffling. But looking back on it, it was good for me because it kind of like set a fire in me. And then, of course, TNA came along and then it was like, ‘okay, this is my opportunity and here we go.'”

On the subject of Young, Edge pointed out that Young mentioned on the podcast before that Impact Wrestling’s relatively light schedule probably saved his body to some degree. While Roode agreed with that assessment to some degree, ‘The Canadian Enforcer’ suggested that the long layoffs made the bumps hurt worse and hurt his wind.

“I agree with that. Like, the whole last three years at TNA, we stopped doing house shows, we did TV once a month, and we would do TV for four or five days in a row, but then you’d be off like six or seven weeks. And it got to the point for me, like, I was pushing 40 years old and my body couldn’t, I couldn’t go to work and be home for six weeks and go to work and be expected to wrestle twice a day or five or six nights in a row.” Roode explained, “on a normal schedule, your body callouses up and you get used to it and you feel good and then you go home for six weeks and you go back on the road and that first bump feels like you got ran over by a truck. That’s just how it was with me. And I didn’t get into the business for that.”

Also during the podcast, Roode talked about how he started to hate his job at the end of his Impact Wrestling run.

“You want to have great matches, but your timing is off and you don’t feel like you’re at 100%. And then saying that, I got in the business to be in the business. It sounds kind of backwards, but I didn’t want to be home all the time. I wanted to be on the road and I wanted to get those reps in and I wanted to be on all the live events. I wanted to kind of tour around and have that kind of schedule. And with TNA, it’s like I felt like I was just spinning my wheels near the end of it. And I started to really not like my job, which was kind of an eyeopener for me because I was never in a position in the last 17 years up until that point that I really hated wrestling and I really started to hate it.”

When asked how his WWE deal came together, Roode said he always kept in touch with Impact Wrestling alum Samoa Joe and Austin Aries who were in NXT and that he received a telephone call from WWE Performance Center’s Matt Bloom the day he finished up with Impact Wrestling.

“I just knew that staying at TNA really wasn’t an option for me, so I ended up finishing the third year of my contract. I had one year left and we kind of just mutually parted ways.” Roode continued, “I became pretty good friends with Samoa Joe over the years at TNA. Joe was already at NXT and we would talk here and there. And, of course, Austin Aries was just getting started with NXT at the time I was ending with TNA, so we all kind of chatted a little bit and stuff like that. And, obviously, when I was finishing up with TNA, we came to an agreement that I was going to finish up in March, finish the five or six weeks of TV that was left or whatever I had to do there and then I was done. So the day that I was finished, I got a phone call from Matt Bloom and then, the ball kind of started rolling from there.”

Roode recalled that Triple H threw a bunch of possibilities at him like the possibility of a short-term deal or coaching at the Performance Center leading up to his appearance at NXT TakeOver: Dallas.

“I ended up talking to Triple H on the phone about a week-and-a-half later, and then, just kind of it was like a 30-minute conversation, just kind of really laid back and just kind of told him what I was looking to do and he kind of gave me his two cents on what he was kind of looking for and hopefully that maybe we could [work something out]. Honestly, when the initial conversation started, it was like, ‘well, maybe we’ll just look at a three-month thing or a six-month thing and see where it ends up.’ After he asked me, ‘would coaching at the PC be an option for you to do if nothing works out?’ It was kind of like a wide-ranging conversation about everything and then I got a call a couple of days before WrestleMania in Dallas [Texas] last year and they asked me to come down to NXT TakeOver the night before. I got there, talked to Hunter for maybe 5 minutes, met a lot of guys in the locker room, and then, they put me in the front row right before the main event started. It was wild.”

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Source: F4WOnline

Mauro Ranallo returned to WWE at last night’s NXT television tapings from the campus of Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. Ranallo joined Percy Watson and Nigel McGuinness as the new trio for the NXT brand that will debut on next week’s episode on the WWE Network.

Dave Meltzer noted on the latest episode of Wrestling Observer Radio that WWE had been working to get Ranallo back since approximately April 20, 2017. Ranallo mysteriously disappeared from his duties as the play-by-play announcer of SmackDown Live since the March 14, 2017 episode, including missing WrestleMania 33. It was later learned that Ranallo was dealing with depression, something that was rumored to have been exacerbated by bullying issues with fellow commentator John “Bradshaw” Layfield.

As noted, Ranallo spoke about his return to WWE with The Associated Press and was asked about issues with JBL.

“I was willing to walk away from my dream job,” Ranallo said. “Let’s leave it at that. In order for me to do that, I had to be true to my convictions and what makes you a human being.”

Meltzer noted WWE didn’t want Ranallo on the outside, talking about what happened, plus the fact that Ranallo is really good at his job. In addition to his responsibilities with WWE, Ranallo now works for Bellator MMA and is the play-by-play man for Showtime Boxing, which will include calling the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor fight in August.

“He’s on a show that most of the people that run WWE production don’t go to. So that’s kind of the key right there,” Meltzer commented. “So he’s in a different world, working the Orlando shows and the TakeOvers and not the high pressure shows, so to speak. And it’s a lot of tapings during the middle of the week.”

Ranallo and WWE mutually agreed to his departure earlier this year, which ended his agreement with the company. His new deal to do play-by-play for NXT is a new multi-year contract. Meltzer also noted that Ranallo is away from Layfield, which had to happen.

You can read about how WWE re-introduced Ranallo to their audience at this link.

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Source: E&C Pod Of Awesomeness

Recently on E&C’s Pod Of Awesomeness, pro wrestling legends Edge and Christian chatted with current WWE Superstar Natalya. Among other things, Natalya talked about helping Charlotte Flair reach her potential in the squared circle, Chris Benoit helping her get her start in WWE, what she regrets from her pro wrestling career, and who her favorite opponents are.

According to Natalya, she is proud that she was able to help Charlotte improve in the ring the way TJ Wilson, also known as Tyson Kidd, helped her get better.

“I always wanted to be good for other people, so we could keep paying it forward. And the way TJ helped me, I’m proud to say, like, I helped Charlotte Flair that way, because when we had our match, we had a very famous match in NXT and we’ll talk about that another time, like, that match helped her so much to believe in herself. And she understood what it’s like, and now I’m going to put myself over, she understood what it was like to drive a nice car.” Natalya added, “she got a chance to work with somebody that was better and that way, she could learn and grow. That’s how I got better, by working with people who were better than me.”

On the subject of Charlotte, Natalya named ‘The Nature Girl’ as one of her favorite opponents. Natalya divulged that Charlotte really doubted herself when she arrived in NXT and that the two have developed an unspoken connection.

“One of my favorite, favorite, favorite opponents is Charlotte Flair. It’s just a magical chemistry that we have with each other. When I first met Charlotte Flair, one of the things I loved about her was how vulnerable she was. We had a very emotional conversation and she told me how she still didn’t believe in herself.” Natalya continued, “I love working with Charlotte. I know I can go in the ring and get the job done. She can go in there. She hits hard. I hit hard. It’s very, very, very physical to a point where I feel like we’re almost in a relationship and I mean that in the best way, a.k.a., the German suplex. But I love working with Charlotte. We just have this unspoken [bond]. We don’t have to talk. It’s just this connection that we have.”

Also, Natalya said she loved working with Nikki Bella, though she was scared of reinjuring John Cena’s future bride.

“Someone else that people would be surprised that I loved, loved, loved working with was Nikki Bella. She was determined to prove herself after her injury and you guys both know what it’s like to go through serious injuries, and especially anything to do with your spine. And Nikki had come back from this spinal fusion and it was really serious injury.” Natalya recalled, “I helped Nikki kind of with her in-ring return, but I was nervous because I was like, ‘TJ, I don’t want to be the one that hurts Nikki and have John Laurinaitis, Brie Bella, Daniel Bryan, and John Cena staring me down.’ Like with Nikki, you get the whole package. You get all of them.”

Natalya shared that she regrets not having an angle with close friend and WWE Hall Of Famer Beth Phoenix.

“One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t have a feud with Beth. We walked into SmackDown one day and they were like, ‘oh, you and Beth are wrestling.’ I went for years, and years, and years not having a rivalry with Beth. We were either always both bad guys, or both good guys, or teammates. And so, that was a regret that I had.”

Interestingly, Natalya claimed that Chris Benoit helped her and Kidd get hired by WWE at a time when Natalya’s uncle, the legendary Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart, was not on speaking terms with WWE following the Montreal Screwjob.

“I don’t know if you want to include this or not, I was lucky enough that there were people in the industry at this time, when I got hired, Bret still wasn’t talking to WWE. They weren’t on good terms or they just weren’t talking at all. And everybody knows the history between Bret and WWE, and the Montreal Screwjob, so it was a tricky time for the Harts to get hired, so Chris Benoit was a good family friend and our family helped him break into the industry. So Chris Benoit actually is one of the people that helped me get hired and he really pulled for myself and TJ and he put pressure on Johnny [Ace] and said, ‘I want to help these two people get hired.’ So I really feel like it was Chris helped us get hired.”

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Source: Talk Is Jericho

Former WWE United States Champion Chris Jericho recently caught up with fellow WWE Superstar, Samoa Joe. Among other things, Joe talked about why he stayed in NXT for as long as he did, when he found out he was headed to the main roster, whether he has had a sit-down meeting with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon yet, and the possibility of a match with current WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar.

According to Joe, he, Finn Bálor, and Shinsuke Nakamura stayed in NXT longer than anticipated because NXT became a third touring brand that needed their star power to sell tickets. ‘The Destroyer’ went on to compare NXT to ROH and ECW as far as being raided for talent.

“I want to say almost close to two years. Yeah, yeah, yeah, but I think a part of that too was about driving the brand. And I think that was kind of the issue with myself, Finn, and Nakamura. We were kind of these mainstays, it was a touring brand at this point, and it was like I felt kind of needed us, Bayley, is another consummate player, just it was kind of what people showed up and paid to see.”

Joe added, “NXT is at a level now where it is a third touring brand within the WWE spectrum and you have to now produce talent that have the risk of being gone. I liken it to a Ring Of Honor or an ECW where it’s like you’d build these huge stars, but eventually opportunity comes calling and now you have to start from scratch.”

Although going to the main roster became an “unspoken thing” for the SoCal native, he was told to get ready for the jump at NXT TakeOver: Toronto and got the game plan for his debut over Royal Rumble weekend.

“I think at a certain point it became kind of an unspoken thing. And then, I remember, I want to say, going probably after Toronto [Canada], NXT TakeOver: Toronto, it was mentioned to me, ‘hey, listen, there [are] probably going to be some opportunities for you elsewhere… so be ready. And I really didn’t learn about the debut until the day before the Rumble. Then, the plan was kind of laid out to me.”

Joe indicated that he has not had a formal meeting with McMahon yet, though ‘The Samoan Submission Specialist’ is under the impression that meetings with ‘Vinnie Mac’ tend to be unpleasant.

“We haven’t really had a sit-down meeting. We talk in passing and like I’m not big on like having real long, drawn out conversations and I guess that’s to my detriment. I’ll show up and be like, ‘hey, what do we need? Alright, cool.’ I’m out the door. Let’s go get it done.” Joe exclaimed, “I heard, if you do have a meeting, nine times out of 10 it’s not a good thing!”

With respect to Lesnar, Joe stated that he would like to face ‘The Beast Incarnate’ and that he has the legitimate offense to make such a match work.

“Absolutely. I think, and I’ve stated it a lot, I think it’s something the fans want to see and I’d definitely like to get into it with Brock.” Joe explained, “he’s very intense. It has got to be believable. I think that’s part of it too.”

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Source: Talk Is Jericho

Recently on Talk Is Jericho, former WWE United States Champion Chris Jericho caught up with WWE Superstar Big Cass. Among many other things, Cass talked about being called up from NXT to WWE Monday Night RAW, whether he was surprised by the warm reception from the RAW audience when Enzo and Cass debuted, and Carmella staying in NXT when the tag team was called up to the main roster.

According to Cass, everyone in WWE’s developmental system hopes and waits to be called up to the main roster. Moreover, ‘The Big Bambino’ recalled that he and Enzo did not get their hopes up about moving on to the main roster, but that they had an idea that they were going to be called up after WWE Roadblock (2016).

“I think everybody down there is always waiting to be [called up]. Everyone’s excited and waiting to be called up. But I don’t think we ever really had a point where we thought, ‘man, definitely, we’re going to get called up.'” Cass continued, “I don’t think we really, really got our hopes up until around WrestleMania time. We kind of figured something was going on when we did that Roadblock WWE Network special. It was [Dean] Ambrose and Triple H in the main event. It was in Toronto [Canada] and we had an NXT Tag Team Championship match with The Revival and after that we weren’t booked on NXT television for the next two months going into ‘Mania, so we thought, ‘huh, something’s probably going on here if we’re not on TV anymore.’ We lost to The Revival at Roadblock and we hadn’t been seen since, so we kind of figured something was going on.”

During the interview, Big Cass spelled out for us that he was not surprised about the crowd’s positive reaction to Enzo and Cass’ RAW debut because the crowd at the RAW after WrestleMania is very familiar with NXT.

“I honestly wasn’t surprised because I know the crowd that’s there the night after ‘Mania and hardcore fans, a lot of fans from Europe, Germany, a lot of fans from all over the world, that hardcore WWE fanbase, so those fans are all familiar with NXT.” Cass continued, “so I was kind of expecting a very good reaction because everybody was asking about it and it was, like I said, that hardcore fanbase.”

On the subject of Carmella not being brought up to the main roster with Enzo and Cass, the big man said that Triple H told Carmella that she was being kept on her own for her own benefit and Cass agreed that it was for the best. Cass went on to say that having a hot chick is a heel move, so it was probably good for Enzo and Cass, the babyfaces, to be split from ‘The Princess Of Staten Island’.

“[Triple H] told her it’s what’s best for her. And I’ve got to be honest, I believe it because if she came up with us, she would’ve just played second fiddle to me and Enzo and she wouldn’t have been able to make as much of a name for herself. Her being on her own for a few months in NXT before coming up to SmackDown on her own, I think it really, really helped her because she’s her own established character. Besides some fans that will chant ‘how you doin’?’, there’s no real link between me and Enzo and her in terms of television product. The audience doesn’t really know that except for a few, that small percentage that [are] NXT fans. Oh yeah, oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Having a hot chick with you is definitely a heel move. Yeah, because everyone [is] jealous and whatever it is. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly, so that did help us also because like you said, having the hot chick is just always the heel guy. How do you make this guy a bigger heel? You give him a hot valet. You put a hot valet with him. That has been done forever.”