WWE Moves NXT to USA Network

photo credit wwe.com

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.

WWE Halftime Heat 2019 Review

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.

WWE.COM

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)

ROH & NJPW Announce ‘G1 Supercard’ at MSG

The days of WWE having exclusive rights to Madison Square Garden are over. Four weeks after ROH was denied entry into MSG, it was announced last Thursday ROH and New Japan Pro Wrestling would hold a joint show at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” on Friday, April 6, 2019. The show is titled G-1 Supercard, which is a combination of each promotion’s marquee events.

G-1 Supercard will be the first non-WWE pro wrestling event ever to be held at MSG. The timing of this show is even more intriguing because it takes place the day before WrestleMania 35  at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The ROH/New Japan show will also run directly against the NXT TakeOver show at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

ROH CEO Joe Koff claimed MSG had canceled their original date after they received “communication from WWE.” Koff stated the lawyers were handling it from there and the show announcement came unexpectedly with a surprise addition of New Japan added to the mix.

Vince McMahon cannot be happy, as 58 years of exclusivity is now a thing of the past. McMahon was able to block WCW from holding a show in the Garden during the height of the nWo era. The closest WCW came was holding two shows at the Paramount Theater (now known as the Hulu Theater) in April 1993 and June 1996.

MSG has become a costly place to hold events. James Dolan (owner of the New York Knicks and MSG) has consistently raised the fee. WWE hasn’t held a televised show at the Garden since 2011. Former WWE announcer Jim Ross addressed the expensive cost of running the Garden on his podcast stating

“the cost of the TV would far exceed the cost of the gate. We (WWE) did million dollar shows there several times there – that are Raws – but you lose money more likely than not. If you’re lucky, you might break even.”

Reportedly, the combined influence of ROH’s parent company Sinclair Broadcasting and the new president of New Japan, Harold Meij is what opened the doors for the two promotions on April 6.

Tickets for the event will go on sale on Wednesday, August 8th at 10:00 AM ET for members of ROH’s HonorClub streaming service and Friday, August 10th to the general public.

New Japan’s Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Tetsuya Naito along with “all of the top ROH stars” are confirmed for the show. You know who is not confirmed for the show. Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks as their contracts are reportedly set to expire in January 2019.

ROH/New Japan running a show in the Garden during WrestleMania weekend in the same city is the most significant promotional blow WWE has taken since the demise of WCW. If McMahon wants to play hardball, he can offer Omega and the Bucks an exorbitant amount of money, as their absence would hurt the MSG show. WWE was probably going to make them an offer anyways, but now they have more incentive to do so.

Tickets for this show are not going to be cheap. Every show held at MSG is considerably more expensive than events held in other venues. No matter which way the cookie crumbles, April 6 will be a historic evening. The most important event in the history of ROH and New Japan Pro Wrestling could signal the start of another wrestling war.

 

-ROH & NJPW press release

Baltimore, MD [07/12/18] – For 16 years, Ring of Honor Wrestling has created some of the top stars in professional wrestling, and for nearly 50 years, New Japan Pro-Wrestling has brought Japanese Strong Style to the world. Together, these two companies have delivered world class shows such as “War of the Worlds,” “Strong Style Evolved,” “Global Wars,” “Honor Rising,” and the “G1 Special,” which NJPW has launched as a special kickoff in the United States to their annual “G1 Climax,” known as one of the most elite tournaments in professional wrestling.

ROH and NJPW are proud to announce that on April 6th, 2019, the companies will join forces to present the ultimate wrestling event, “G1 Supercard,” to fans from around the world, LIVE from Madison Square Garden in New York City!

“Three years ago, one of our best fans told me in confidence that Supercard of Honor just didn’t feel “super” anymore, said Greg Gilleland, ROH General Manager. “He was right and we took that to heart with the huge events we delivered in Lakeland, FL in 2017, and New Orleans, LA just a few months ago. With consecutive record breaking attendances, the question became, how can we top that in 2019? More importantly, how can we give the fans more of what they want and what they deserve? The G1 Supercard is an event that can only represent the absolute best possible matches with both NJPW and ROH stars, and Madison Square Garden is the perfect venue for them.”

“This is a historic initiative for ROH and New Japan Pro-Wrestling,” Harold Meij, President of NJPW proudly commented. “This gives us a great chance to expose fans to NJPW in the building which housed so many memorable and compelling matches.”

Already confirmed for this show from NJPW are Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Tetsuya Naito, in addition to all of the top ROH Stars. This show is set to be massive in magnitude including many matches to be announced with championships from both companies defended. Fans will not want to miss this marquee event at a venue with such an amazing storied history of wrestling.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ring of Honor Wrestling and New Japan Pro-Wrestling to Madison Square Garden for the much anticipated G1 Supercard,” said Joel Fisher, Executive Vice President, MSG Marquee Events. “We expect April 6th to be another memorable night of wrestling at The World’s Most Famous Arena.”

ROH Chief Operating Officer Joe Koff is equally proud. “This is destined to join a long list of historical wrestling moments and where better to hold it than at Madison Square Garden. I am extremely proud of what we have been able to achieve as a company and am very appreciative of how great our relationship with New Japan Pro-Wrestling has become. However, none of this would be possible without our fans, who are truly the best in the world. Madison Square Garden would not be possible without them and for that I am most grateful.”

G1 Supercard is sure to be a historical event in New York City that promises to exceed all expectations.

Tickets will go on-sale on Wednesday, August 8th at 10:00 AM ET for HonorClub members and Friday, August 10th for the General Public.

Stay tuned to ROHWrestling.com for more information on G1 Supercard and other important Ring of Honor Wrestling news. Visit NJPW1972.com to follow your favorite NJPW wrestlers and for any other NJPW news or event information.

NXT 5/9/18 Review: Ciampa vs. Ohno

I haven’t watched NXT in a few months, so I decided to check out last week’s episode. Many of the wrestlers that people identify as NXT stars have moved up to the main WWE roster over the past 12 months. There are several new faces on the scene such as the high-flying sensation Ricochet. It was interesting to see how they are positioned on the card. Continue reading “NXT 5/9/18 Review: Ciampa vs. Ohno”

WWE Asked for My Opinion

photo credit: wwe.com

WWE reached out to me today via my inbox and wanted to know who are my favorite WWE Superstars, NXT Superstars, and WWE Legends. I’m flattered that the E values my opinion. So, I moved my cursor towards the lovely “click here” button and gave them my two cents.  Continue reading “WWE Asked for My Opinion”

Five Star Drama

Tyler Bate

Two weeks ago, British wrestling standouts Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate tore the house down in a superb encounter at NXT TakeOver Chicago. If you’re unfamiliar with WWE’s U.K. initiative, watching this match will serve as the perfect introduction.

Seemingly, however, online drama coming after the match has fans voicing their displeasure at journalist Dave Meltzer, who, based on his popular rating system, gave the Dunne vs. Bate match 4 ¾ stars out of 5.

We’re talking about a smidge of a point away here. Yet, a lot of fans are left shaking their heads wondering what would this match had to have done to earn five stars. 4 ¾ is an excellent score, however, there is a bigger issue here.

Continue reading “Five Star Drama”

NXT TakeOver Orlando Preview Show

 

Atlee Greene and Adam Kohn give their preview and predictions for NXT TakeOver: Orlando, which emanates from the Amway Center in Orlando, FL this Saturday. The show will air live on the WWE Network at 8:00 PM EST.

There are five big matches headlined by the NXT Title match where Bobby Roode defends against Shinsuke NNakamura.

NXT Tag Team Championship will also be on the line as The Authors of Pain defend against #DIY and The Revival in a Triple Threat Elimination Match.

Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong, No Way Jose & Ruby Riot team up to take on SAnitY in a blockbuster 8 person mixed tag team match

Aleister Black makes his NXT debut against Andrade “Cien” Almas and someone’s 0 has got to go when Asuka defends the NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon.

TheGreeneScreen.net: Pro Wrestling with a dash of Pop Culture!

Is Shinsuke Nakamura Ready for WWE’s Main Roster?

If you’re an NXT fan, there is one question that comes up in every conversation: “when will Shinsuke Nakamura make his WWE main roster debut?” Those who appreciate the work of this ultra-charismatic and super talented superstar want to see him on either Raw or SmackDown, sooner rather than later.

Conventional wisdom says that Nakamura should be on the main roster by now. He’s a great worker who, unlike most Japanese wrestlers. is tailor made for WWE and the showmanship it requires to be one of their performers. I mean, come on…anyone who can dress as a hybrid of Michael Jackson and the Statue of Liberty, and make it work, is a performer through and through. Continue reading “Is Shinsuke Nakamura Ready for WWE’s Main Roster?”

NXT TakeOver Toronto Review

Adam Kohn and I review NXT TakeOver Toronto as all three championships are on the line, with Shinsuke Nakamura making his first NXT title defense against Samoa Joe. The undefeated Asuka defends the NXT women’s title against the returning Mickie James. The show will also feature three big matches to round out the card.