Fightful reported that Kushida has left WWE after his contract expired.
Kushida signed with WWE in 2019. He won the NXT Cruiserweight Championship and had some standout matches with Walter, Johnny Gargano, Pete Dunn, Santos Escobar, and Kyle O’Reilly. Following his Cruiserweight Title loss, Kushida formed a team with Ikemen Jiro and became known as Jacket Time.
Kushida’s final NXT appearance occurred on last week’s episode. He was initially scheduled to face Von Wager but was taken out in a backstage attack by Wager. Jiro took Kushida’s place in a losing effort to Wagner. His final match aired on the 3/25 episode of NXT LVL UP as Jacket Time lost to Malik Blade and Edris Enofe, with Kushida taking the fall.
Over the past two weeks, the highly volatile personal situation between NXT’s Nash Carter and his wife, IMPACT Wrestling’s Kimber Lee, was a top news item. It got uglier with each passing day, including domestic violence allegations hurled against Carter.
It’s a controversial topic with many talking heads. Last Monday, Kimber Lee released a photo of Carter imitating Hitler, and WWE released the 27-year-old two days later. However, there is one question many are not asking.
It’s time for Ringside Logic to bestow our “Best of the Year” honors. 2021 will go down as an unforgettable year in professional wrestling for both good and bad reasons. Let’s focus on the good aspects of the industry, which consisted of action-packed matches, wild angles, and paradigm-shifting events in and out of the ring. Here is our pick for the 2021 Men’s Match of the Year.
An NXT of a different color is set for war this Sunday as the newest generation of WWE’s future collides with the once and perhaps future kings at WarGames. While the “TakeOver” name is noticeably absent from the marquee, it’s likely another casualty of NXT’s 2.0 rebranding.
Several talents have been released with an eye towards the future, and WarGames looks to distance NXT even more from the previous black and gold era. Men’s and Women’s WarGames Matches headline the card along with two title matches, and someone will lose their hair.
Between all of the changes to NXT and Beth Pheonix leaving the broadcast booth following the show, WarGames might represent out with the old and in with the new.
The bloodshed continues as WWE released 13 NXT talents Friday night during SmackDown. Many of the names on this list were currently on television, while others wrestled sparingly. What does this mean for the future of NXT and WWE? What about Triple H and Vince McMahon’s eye for talent? Bronson Reed is the prominent name on the list that includes:
Tuesday’s episode of NXT saw the return of the Million Dollar Championship. Ted DiBiase announced that Cameron Grimes vs. LA Knight at TakeOver: In Your House on Sunday is now a ladder match for the famed belt. Both wrestlers have vied for the services of DiBiase, and the winner will carry on his Million Dollar Legacy. So, who will win? What will the title mean?
WWE confirmed weeks of speculation this morning as NXT will air weekly on Wednesday night’s, live on USA Network at 8:00 pm EST beginning September 18. NXT will still emanate from Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. However, it will no longer serve as fist run programming for the WWE Network. This move was made in an attempt to get a two-week head start on All Elite Wrestling’s (AEW) show on TNT, which will air live directly against NXT beginning October 2.
Wrestling insiders wondered not if but when Vince McMahon would respond to the emerging threat of AEW on television, and now we have our answer. Using NXT to cut off AEW at the pass and dilute their audience is a multifaceted, multimillion endeavor. Since 2010, NXT has been a developmental brand in main roster clothing. NXT can no longer be a prioritized training ground with the move from streaming to cable television. The fire of AEW can’t be fought with programming that isn’t on equal footing. To casual fans, developmental means minor league.
NXT will air two hours, live, every Wednesday, as opposed to filming multiple episodes once a month for a staggered release. NXT is the number one watched show on the WWE Network. Removing the show from its first run lineup could have a negative effect on the already low number of network subscribers. Every streaming service needs at least one linchpin program to succeed. Netflix has Stranger Things. Hulu has The Handmaid’s Tale. WWE Network now has…?
What is most interesting about this move is the landscape shift NXT will undertake. Vince McMahon is the primary shot caller for Raw and SmackDown while Triple H was the creative force behind the success of NXT. That was only the case because McMahon considers cable television more of a priority than streaming content. With this shift, there is no way Vince McMahon doesn’t take the creative reigns of the black and yellow brand.
Historically, McMahon doesn’t push wrestlers the physical stature of NXT Champion Adam Cole and the Undisputed Era. Popular character acts such as the talented and flamboyant Velveteen Dream go from being the belle of the ball to a second rate comedy act. The most important thing of all, NXT favors professional wrestling over sports entertainment. Storylines are engaging and straightforward. Talent means something. Wins and losses actually matter. That is the opposite of how Vince McMahon runs a television product. The NXT we used to know is gone.
Vince McMahon making presumed changes to NXT is even more of a head-scratcher considering who they are competing with. AEW is going to be a sports-orientated program where wins and losses matter. It’s precisely what diehard wrestling fans have been vigorously clamoring for ever since WWE has become a stale, homogenized version of the genre. The funny things is, NXT was WWE’s professional wrestling show tucked safely away from the prying eyes of a sports entertainment fanatic.
Having NXT’s wrestling centric product going up against AEW’s wrestling centric presentation would be the ultimate treat for wrestling enthusiasts. AEW is believed to have a better in-ring product, but NXT in its current form would have put that theory to the test. Instead of fighting fire with fire, Vince McMahon, presumably, is going to eliminate the hard-hitting wrestling aspect that makes NXT special, turn it into the same monotonous programming that has turned the audience away, and use that platform to combat the alternative program.
Change is coming to NXT in a significant way. Longer shows mean more wrestlers will be needed. Plus, with the brand jumping wild card rule in effect, big-name stars will undoubtedly appear on the show. Imagine The Miz vs. Adam Cole in a TakeOver main event for the NXT Championship? Yep, that is where things could very well be headed. Will there be an NXT draft where WWE Superstars pledge their allegiance to the new brand on the block?
If I could make one booking decision, I would get rid of 205 Live and move the cruiserweight division to NXT. It could be repackaged and hyped as something that will now only be seen on that show. It will be cool to see talents such as Matt Riddle, Johnny Gargano, and KUSHIDA performing on a bigger stage. Ultimately, NXT winning the upcoming Wednesday Night War wouldn’t be a surprise. After all, NXT is now a main roster brand of WWE.
Twenty years ago, the inaugural Halftime Heat aired live on the USA Network during the Super Bowl halftime show. The event saw Mankind defeat The Rock for the WWE Title in an empty arena match and it was a rousing success.
The second Halftime Heat occurred the following year with an exclusive interview with Stone Cold Steve Austin. At the time, Austin was recovering from neck surgery in conjunction with the infamous hit and run angle involving Rikishi.
Last night, WWE held another Halftime Heat special, which aired on all social media platforms, YouTube and the WWE Network. The company’s developmental system NXT took center stage with a live 6-Man Tag Team Match from the Performance Center.
Aleister Black, Ricochet, and Velveteen Dream teamed up to take on NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa, NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole. Vic Joseph and Shawn Michaels called the action on commentary.
Triple H said in an opening video package “If you’re all in on sports entertainment, NXT is for you.” Athleticism personified is the best way to describe this twenty-three-minute match. All six men delivered a high energy affair that you will not see on WWE’s main roster.
The match had an odd cadence to it. At times it felt rushed, which is understandable because, well, the Super Bowl. Some moments told a clear story. Other moments came off as a mere exhibition of moves with each wrestler getting their stuff in.
Extremely fast-paced action anchored by several callbacks to amazing spots on TakeOver shows such as Adam Cole meeting a moonsaulting Ricochet in midair with a superkick. The finish came when Adam Cole received in succession Black Mass, Dream Driver and a springboard 450 splash from Ricochet for the pinfall.
Astatically, the room was poorly lit, and there was a mixture of genuine and phony reactions from the crowd. As a former independent wrestler, I’ve sat in the audience for my share of poorly attended shows. It’s a tradition for workers in the crowd to boo and cheer accordingly as a way to get the fans into the show.
Reports indicate the Performance Center contained 400 people for a family and friends Super Bowl party. Not counting the WWE Network, the overall live streaming numbers are 86,190 viewers.
Despite elements of the match lacking a narrative with rerun envy, the show was a success. The goal here was to expose NXT to a broader audience, which is why going back to the well with familiar spots is perfectly fine. The social media numbers could have been better, but those who saw the match loved it. (Fast forward video above to 6:03)