WWE NXT Champion, Adam Cole recently spoke with FOX Sports about the upcoming Wednesday night wars as NXT competes with AEW and more. Below are some highlights with a H/T to WrestlingInc.com for the transcriptions.
On NXT growing as a brand:
“NXT has grown so much,” said Cole. “Before people would call it a developmental brand and now without a doubt, it is the third brand of WWE. This move to the USA Network really proves that NXT is the third brand. Some people used to call moving to RAW or SmackDown moving up and to me now it is just moving.”
On competing on Wednesday nights:
“I can tell you this,” Cole explained. “I don’t mean to speak for them, but I have a strong feeling this is how they feel, because I know at NXT we have a strong focus on making sure it is the best possible show that we can make it on Wednesday’s and that’s all we have the energy to focus on.
“And I’m sure those guys feel the exact same way. So, in turn, of course, it’s exciting for the wrestling fans, they get to compare, to watch both events, which is awesome, but they’re focused on making sure their show rules and I know we’re focused on making ours rule. And in turn, it’s really exciting for everybody.”
On NXT standing out:
“There are small differences in RAW to SmackDown, small differences in SmackDown to NXT, and that’s why I think having three brands is exciting, because whatever style if wrestling you’re into, whatever type of wrestling you like, you get all of that with WWE now.
“So it’s important those brands stay true to who they are separate from the other shows.”
This was the first episode of WWE NXT on USA Network in the US. The first hour was on USA Network, then the second hour was on WWE Network due to USA Network airing the final two episodes of “Suits” this week and next week. Apparently, WWE Network had a lot of issues in that second hour, but I’m watching on demand, so it’s fine now.
The bad thing for me is there’s no USA Network here in Canada and no Canadian channel picked this show up even though Sportsnet 360 (which shows Raw and Smackdown) was showing some taped poker event from years ago on Wednesday night. On Sportsnet 360 from October to April, they show NHL games on Wednesday nights, so it’s not going to be shown here unless some other deal happens. Let’s remember that WWE only did this to counter AEW on TNT in the US. They didn’t care about getting deals in other countries. That means their next biggest markets like the United Kingdom and Canada must wait 24 hours after NXT airs on USA Network for it to be on WWE Network. I realize that I can download it off a website that posts it online (shoutout to watchwrestling) on Wednesday night, but that’s not the same as getting it on cable TV that I pay for. By the way, there’s still no official news on where AEW will air in Canada either. Anyway, I’ll figure it out as I go.
As for the format of this review, I’m no longer doing play by play, detailed reviews of NXT. Once AEW starts on October 2, I’m going to review that in-depth like I do Raw and Smackdown (moving to Fridays on October 4). Three long reviews in a week, plus PPVs when they happen, is going to be enough for me on top of all the other writing and editing I do. I still want to cover NXT, so I’m going to write this article with thoughts on the show, star ratings on the matches and whatever else comes to mind. One of our new writers, Jim Kress, is doing NXT Reviews for us now and he’ll get those posted fairly quickly after the show is over. His style is different, but that’s okay and he’ll work on it as he goes forward on the site. I’m hopeful that I will do this review column on Thursday afternoons, but if it’s Friday morning when I post it then that’s okay too. Life is busier than ever for me, so I just have to find the time when I can. Let’s get to it.
Taped from Full Sail University in Orlando, FL, this is WWE NXT episode #370. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
The opening video featured Triple H talking about there being something special in the atmosphere in NXT as highlights were shown of NXT history. Great video to welcome fans to NXT on USA Network. That led to Triple H walking onto the stage and the fans chanted “NXT” as the show came on the air.
The announce team for NXT was Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness and Beth Phoenix, which remains the commentary team going forward.
Candice LeRae defeated Mia Yim, Bianca Belair and Io Shirai
This was a fast-paced match from the moment it began and I was very impressed by Shirai, who makes everything look so easy. They had several sequences in the match where everybody was hitting big moves and then Shirai hit an incredible moonsault onto LeRae and Yim on the floor. They went to commercial and then hit a 4-Way Tower of Doom spot leading to “NXT” chants. There were several good nearfalls near the end of the match and cool spots like Belair hitting a KOD on LeRae, but Yim broke up the pin. LeRae faced off with her former friend Shirai, who was shoved off the top by Yim to stop a moonsault. LeRae managed to hit a reverse rana and a springboard moonsault on Yim for the win. My pick going into this match was Belair, but I certainly don’t mind LeRae getting the win because she’s a natural babyface like her husband Johnny Gargano. They got about 10 minutes, but only 7 minutes shown due to the commercial. It was fun, wild, athletic and exactly what makes NXT so great. (Match Rating: ***1/2 out of five)
The win by LeRae meant that she gets to face Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women’s Title.
There was a staredown on the stage with Baszler and LeRae along with Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke supporting Baszler. I think it’s very possible that LeRae wins the title when they have their title match.
A brief video was shown about NXT Champion Adam Cole.
There was a video package that let us know there will be a Donovan Dijakovic vs. Keith Lee match next week. Please check that out if you can because they are outstanding heavyweights who always have great matches together.
Cameron Grimes defeated Sean Maluta
The bell rang, Maluta charged, Grimes hit a running double stomp to the chest and pinned Maluta to win after about five seconds. They see big things in Grimes (formerly Trevor Lee) and there’s nothing wrong with that because he has a lot of potential. (Match Rating: No point in rating it.)
A video package was shown about Damian Priest, who is one of the taller guys in NXT and will probably get a big push in the coming months.
The next match was the main event of the first hour on USA Network.
Roderick Strong defeated Velveteen Dream to win the NXT North American Championship
The first few minutes were slow paced, Dream was in full control and then as you would expect, the heel Strong took over after that with a backbreaker onto the guardrail. Strong’s offense featured a lot of submission attempts and several backbreakers because he’s known as the “Messiah of the Backbreaker” as Ranallo pointed out. When Dream tried a Sharpshooter, Strong kicked him out of the ring and Dream shoved Strong into the steel steps. That led to the second commercial break of this match.
Dream made his big comeback and got some good nearfalls with a superkick as well as DreamDT that led to “NXT” chants again. Strong had an offensive flurry of forearms and nearly won with his Boston Crab submission. Strong’s buddies Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish went to ringside. Shortly after that, Strong grabbed Dream and shoved him into the referee. Dream hit a Dream Valley Driver, but there was no referee. Dream fought off the Undisputed Era guys on the apron, Strong hit a suplex into the double knees and Dream kicked out to a huge ovation. Dream with another Dream Valley Driver, he went up top, the referee was distracted, Cole with a superkick and Strong hit the End of Heartache (suplex into double knees) for the win. Strong got the pin after 15 minutes to become the new NXT North American Champion. All of the interference keeps it from being four stars, but the finish made sense considering how close the Undisputed Era group is. It was still a great match and it’s fitting that they did a title change on the first NXT on USA Network show. (Match Rating: ***3/4)
The win by Strong meant that the Undisputed Era group all have titles with Adam Cole as the NXT Champion, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly as the NXT Tag Team Champions and now Strong as the NXT North American Champion. As they said many times, the prophecy from the Undisputed Era was fulfilled.
That was the end of the first hour on USA Network. As I noted in the opening paragraph, the two hours will be on USA Network on October 2.
When the broadcast moved over to WWE Network, Strong’s championship celebration continued. I like how the Undisputed Era’s championship celebration lasted several minutes. It made the title win feel like a bigger deal. They spent a few minutes recapping the wins of Candice LeRae and Roderick Strong from the first hour.
In two weeks, it will be Shayna Baszler vs. Candice LeRae for the NXT Women’s Title. I think there might be a title change there.
Pete Dunne defeated Arturo Ruas
As soon as this match began it was obvious Dunne was going to win, but I liked that Ruas got plenty of offense and he looked competitive during the entire match. Good strikes from both guys. I liked Nigel McGuinness comparing Dunne to Daniel Bryan. There was a gruesome moment where Dunne ripped on the toes of Ruas, who wrestled barefoot. Dunne got the win with the submission that included a triangle choke along with a finger snap and it went about seven minutes. Pushing Dunne in NXT is fine with me. He is one of my favorites in NXT. This match went about seven minutes. (Match Rating: **3/4)
Dakota Kai returns to NXT next week. She has a bright future.
Xia Li defeated Aliyah (w/Vanessa Borne)
Li first female superstar from China in WWE history. Li went for a top rope spot, then she slipped off the top and it looked like they were confused for a bit. Li hit a few kicks after that and then a spinning kick to the back. Li has potential, but that one spot where she messed up hurt the match for sure. It only went two minutes. (Match Rating: 1/2*)
A guy named Denzel Dejournette was in the ring for a match against Kushida, but there was an interruption. The NXT UK group Imperium went into the ring to attack Dejournette with Alexander Wolfe hitting a German Suplex and there was a Powerbomb/uppercut combo. The fans chanted for Walter and that led to Walter, the UK Champion, making his entrance. The crowd reaction for Walter definitely made him feel like a huge star.
Walter said they’re Imperium and this mat is sacred. Walter issued a warning to others and Kushida made the interruption in part because he was the scheduled to have a match. Kushida took out three of the Imperium guys, then Walter threw Kushida down and Kushida hit a jumping kick to the head.
Analysis: It was a nice surprise to see Walter on NXT because he’s such a terrific all-around talent and a natural heel. Kushida showed a lot of heart going against four heels like that. Walter vs. Kushida will be an awesome match when they do it soon.
Lio Rush defeated Oney Lorcan
This was a pretty good match. This was Rush’s first match since he left WWE TV in May, so it’s nice to see he’s on good terms again and he showed off what he can do in this match. The fans were strongly behind Rush although they liked Lorcan as well. That’s the NXT fans, though, because they tend to like nearly everyone on the show. Lorcan was in control for most of the match with Rush selling a left knee injury. Rush hit an incredible move off the ropes where he did a springboard into a Stunner for a two count. That was sweet. Lorcan came back with a Powerbomb and then a single leg Boston Crab to continue working on the left knee along with a STF. When Rush got back up, he hit a Spanish Fly to counter a charging Lorcan, which was impressive. Rush went up top and hit the Five Star Frog Splash for the pinfall win. I liked the story of the match with Rush showing that babyface resolve to make the comeback for a big win. They got about 11 minutes. (Match Rating: ***1/4)
The win by Rush means he’ll get a title match against Cruiserweight Champion Drew Gulak.
Street Fight: Matt Riddle vs. Killian Dain ended in a No Contest
This started like a fight with Dain hitting a dropkick right as the bell rang and then they left the ring. Riddle connected with a kendo stick shot, but then Dain sent Riddle into the crowd and a senton splash on the floor. They went to the backstage area, then the action spilled out to the parking lot and Dain tossed Riddle into a truck. The Imperium group was sitting a table, so Walter and his buddies attacked Riddle, which led to the Street Profits coming in for the save. Most of the NXT roster got into a wild brawl in the parking lot. Dain and Riddle ended up going back into the arena, but other wrestlers entered from the back and made it to the ringside area too. The fans chanted “NXT” again as a brawl spilled out into the arena. They set up for a big spot with Dain as the last man in the ring. Dain ran the ropes and hit a suicide dive onto a bunch of guys outside the ring. The fans chanted “Holy Shit” and that was the end of the show. They wrestled for about three minutes while the entire chaotic situation lasted about six minutes. (Match Rating: ** – Fun while it lasted, but obviously not a complete match.)
I thought this was an interesting way to end the show because they spent weeks building up the Riddle vs. Dain rivalry and then it ended up as a wild brawl with the entire roster. That means they can do Riddle vs. Dain again and they announced it in this Youtube clip after the show.
When you see how the crowd reacted to it and the chants they were doing, it was obvious that they liked this ending too. What works so well for NXT is the focus on the in-ring action. There aren’t as many promos as Raw or Smackdown. It’s about the matches, the brawls and telling the best stories they can. This ending was perfect in terms of telling viewers what NXT is all about.
There were several very good matches all night long and the North American Title change was treated like a big deal. I thought the opening match with the four women in a competitive battle was a smart way to begin the broadcast. It was all action that represented what NXT is all about. The ending was chaotic, which is a smart way to keep people tuned in next week to see what would happen next.
It was also cool to see that the Women’s 4-Way won by LeRae and Rush’s win over Lorcan will lead to title matches. That’s the right way to build up title matches by having wrestlers beat other contenders. On Raw or Smackdown, what we normally get is champions losing non-title matches. I’m sick of that. This is the better way to do it.
I think they did a good job of showcasing what NXT is all about. It was a bit of a surprise that Johnny Gargano wasn’t on the show at all, nor was he really mentioned considering he is arguably the top face in NXT. I think maybe he should have had a match. The tag team division wasn’t featured either, but there’s only so much time on the show.
If I rated this out of then it would be a 7.5 or 8 out of 10. Something like that. I enjoyed it.
This review was just over 2500 words. That’s what I was aiming for. If I went full details and play by play it would be at least double that. It saves me a bit of writing, but I also feel like I covered the show as well. Let me know your thoughts on the format in the comments.
According to a report by ProWrestling Sheet.com, WWE NXT Superstar Joaquin Wilde is set to undergo surgery in the near future.
Wilder, who formerly wrestled as DJZ in IMPACT Wrestling, reportedly suffered a broken eye socket during a “freak accident” while he was training back in July.
Doctors were holding off the surgery with the hope that it would heal itself but that hasn’t happened and so surgery has been decided, which will keep him out of the ring for a few more weeks at least.
The GOAT game show and host Photo Credit: Jeopardy.com
It’s Twitter Request Line time, everyone! I take to Twitter to get questions about issues in wrestling, past and present, and answer them on here because 280 characters can’t restrain me, fool! If you don’t know already, follow me @tholzerman, and wait for the call on Wednesday to ask your questions. Hash-tag your questions #TweetBag, and look for the bag to drop Thursday afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers:
What are your five favorite game shows of all time and why? Don’t worry about what’s objectively the best, just what you personally enjoy. #TweetBag
1. Jeopardy – I was smart, and Jeopardy was a show where smart people were the contestants. What else could you want? (Get well soon, Alex Trebek)
2. Double Dare – Kinda like Jeopardy but with a lot more slime. Plus, Harvey the PA guy was a DJ on WMGK in Philly.
3. Wheel of Fortune – It’s fun to yell at people overthinking solving a puzzle, way more fun than you’d think.
4. Guy’s Grocery Games – It’s got the edge over Chopped because Guy Fieri is affable and the judges aren’t throbbing penises, and that’s even with overlap between the shows!
5. American Gladiators – It was enough like pro wrestling for me to like it and just different enough to have a hook.
Any thoughts on the SNL fiasco happening right now? Obviously Gillis shouldn’t have said what he did, but what do you think SNL’s culpability is for either not vetting or vetting and making a choice to court a different audience only to have it blow up and then try to back away?
Saturday Night Live saying they wanted to cater to a “conservative audience” is pretty rich given the show had Donald Trump host in the midst of his primary campaign for the Republican nomination to be President and they caved HARD when Dan Crenshaw whined and cried about them lampooning him on the show. But pretending those things didn’t happen, I’m not sure why SNL should’ve been in the market for anyone but whom they’ve been hiring over the years. Comedy done in service of conservatism is only funny if you like seeing the powerful punch down at marginalized folks. Asian people already have it rough enough over here without dude pretending to be one and badly.
What this Shane Gillis thing shows is that SNL doesn’t give a fuck. Just because they haven’t had to vet their cast before now doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have done it for everyone from Chevy Chase and Bill Murray down to all the way down to Gillis. It’s not only morally right, but unfortunately, the biggest reason to do it is so you don’t lose sponsorship money. If you’re going to push the boundaries, why not hire a leftist comedian? I guess Barack Obama wouldn’t return their calls in that case, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.
It is asinine to start tanking in the beginning of the season, like the Dolphins are. You put together a competent roster and who knows, maybe the Patriots turn into a MASH unit and you can win the division at 9-7. The probability is low, but it could happen. If not, maybe everyone else in the conference beats the hell out of each other, you get a wild card, somehow, say, Baltimore beats the Pats in the divisional round, and you beat, say, the AFC South Champ and the Chiefs in consecutive rounds. Football is the second easiest sport to make a run in after hockey. Now, if you’re the team that turns into a MASH unit, and you find out your gambit at taking, say, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen as a franchise quarterback fails? Then it makes sense to tank around Week Six or later. There’s so much variance in football, and because the season is 16 games instead of 82 or 162, you can have a team that on paper is out of the top 12 in talent, sneak into the playoffs, and make an improbable run. You don’t tank until you know the season’s lost.
Protected user @earthdog asks:
If I won the lottery this week and gave you a job as a full time daily Podcaster, different topic each day of the week, what are the themes of these five podcasts?
I had an idea similar to this if I ever hit the lottery and decided to do podcasts for a living instead of working.
MONDAY – The Holzerman Hungers Scrodcast – A deep dive into eating, food, and anything culinary TUESDAY – The Wrestling Podcast – The bread and butter show, first edition WEDNESDAY – The Super Sports Hour – Talking with a guest each week about happenings in sports, mostly football, but other stuff too THURSDAY – The Wrestling Podcast – Second weekly edition FRIDAY – Shit on a Shingle – A podcast concept I had where I’d just talk to a guest doing a project about their passions over a plate of diner cream chipped beef from a random Philly diner
Maybe I could sub out the second The Wrestling Podcast for something else, but honestly, why would I?
Boy Scout Camp with the boy in August was fun for many reasons. The food was not one of them. I refrained from eating the grossest-looking stuff, but I tried the pizza we had for lunch the second day we were there. Pizza, how could anyone fuck up pizza? Let me tell you, that pizza I choked down there was nasty. The cheese was burnt hard, and it wasn’t even midgrade cheese where if it is browned it’s crunchy and delicious. No. The sauce wasn’t liquid anymore. The crust, I don’t even wanna talk about the crust. Next year, I’m bringing a hoagie tray.
It’s a random Wednesday night in September 2021. Are AEW and NXT still both on the air competing against each other? Or has someone blinked?
I think they are. USA Network has been generous with declining ratings with RAW so I can see them giving leeway to NXT. I also think NXT might even grow its audience. Who knows. But I don’t see it as TNA jumping to Monday nights in 2010. Rather, it’s World Championship Wrestling starting Monday Nitro back when RAW wasn’t really that big a deal. I’d say they’ll both be head-to-head with each other in 2022 too, unless the world ends by then. It just might.
What are your thoughts on the MNF announce team. What changes would you make, if any? #tweetbag
The worst part of the 2018 booth, Jason Witten, is gone and playing football again. Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland are in the booth now, but while Witten was terrible, I’m not sure McFarland was much better? I haven’t watched a game this year and I probably won’t unless the Eagles are playing (Mondays are for Switch and catching up on wrestling). Tessitore is a decent enough PBP guy but not enough to overcome the dumb storyline talking points ESPN gives to him. Overall, Monday Night Football would be better off not existing, but I’m also biased to the fact that Red Zone should have as many games playing at both 1 PM and 4 PM windows as possible.
Yesterday saw this twitter back and forth👇👇, and it made me think of this. How big can a wrestling company get until we say “This company should be paying for all the wrestlers’ gear?” CMLL size? NJPW size? AEW size? Just WWE size? idk pic.twitter.com/BP3rnwlLiC
Honestly, I think if you want to put on a wrestling show, you have to be able to afford the expenses. That means paying all the wrestlers fair wages, having a ring and not having to borrow one from a pedophile, paying off for a good venue, ensuring concessions, and then making sure the venue is safe. If that sounds expensive, it is. But it SHOULD be expensive to keep dipshits like the dudes behind Canuck Pro or whatever shitdick shindie promotion ends up on blast from an indie wrestler every other week from putting on a charade and trying to play small business tyrant without the backing of money. Hell, people WITH money shouldn’t play small business tyrant either, but I’m a socialist. I don’t believe in wealth anyway.
But gear is a whole other game. Should a wrestling promotion have to pay in full or subsidize cost for gear that a wrestler will use on other shows that aren’t theirs? It’s a tricky question that I want to say “yes” to but realize that maybe you should show the promoters a little consideration. That being said, if you’re big enough that you can make a wrestler sign a contract with you, whether it be exclusive or not, you should pay for gear. That goes for Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling, and Major League Wrestling. It goes double for New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Elite Wrestling.
It goes A MILLIONFOLD for WWE, and it is disgusting that a company that makes billions in revenue is making its talent pay for their own gear. Maybe instead of donating to Donald Trump or starting vanity football leagues, make sure your wrestlers, who you pride as the best in the world to do this, have the gear they need to look the best and that will protect them the best. The fact that WWE doesn’t fully pay for gear makes me so mad that I’m not answering anymore questions. Oh wait, this is the last one? Lucky me, I suppose.
ShowbuzzDaily is reporting that WWE NXT’s debut on the USA Network drew 1.179 million viewers. This means that NXT drew roughly half the audience of RAW or SmackDown LIVE, which currently average over 2 million viewers.
NXT was #4 in the 18-49 demographic, and 19th overall. No information is available for the second hour viewership on the WWE Network.
After winning the opening match of WWE NXT’s journey on the USA Network, Candice LeRae spoke with WWE about becoming the new #1 contender.
LeRae managed to score the victory in the opening fatal fourway match, defeating Mia Yim, Io Shirai and Bianca Belair to earn a future NXT Women’s Championship match with Shayna Baszler.
That match will take place in two weeks time when NXT goes head to head with AEW for the first time, and LeRae is certainly ready for the match, although she admitted to being shocked at the result in her post-match interview.
During the second-hour of WWE NXT’s two-hour-long live show, the WWE Network began to experience some difficulties, stopping some fans viewing the event.
With the WWE Network simply not working for many fans on any device, many people were forced to miss the second hour of the show, which has led to WWE providing an official apology for the problems.
“You may have experienced a technical issue with WWE Network earlier this evening. The matter has been resolved, and you can now access the Network and watch tonight’s episode of NXT on demand. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
As well as that, during the post-show media call Triple H also spoke about the issues on the Network:
“I heard about it. I don’t believe, from my understanding of what I’ve heard, I don’t believe it was a massive widespread thing. Bad news travels fast, but I don’t believe it was as big as it was put out there to be. I think there was a select grouping of people that couldn’t log in. The great thing is, once the issue was addressed and fixed, they could log right in and you can go back and watch it on demand and watch it whenever you want. With the platform comes glitches and issues. They’re in the process of figuring it all out and hopefully it’s something that’ll never happen again,” he said.