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Shawn Michaels on NXT vs. AEW, GYV release request, more

MMA Fighting on SBNation’s YouTube

NXT has a premium live event on Sunday (May 28), and this morning Shawn Michaels spoke to the media about Battleground. The man in charge of WWE’s developmental brand also fielded a variety of other questions the wrestling press had for him.

The topic of UK talents came up a few times on the call, including when discussing The Dyad’s Rip Fowler & Jagger Reid (fka Grizzled Young Veterans’ Zack Gibson & James Drake), whose request to be released from their WWE contracts was recently denied:

“They were guys that clearly, I wanted to come over and bring over from the UK. I think they’re very talented. I absolutely understand. It’s one of the things that I tell everybody here. Do I want it to be here in the WWE for you to have your success? Absolutely. I can’t lie about that. Really, this is about, no matter who comes through these doors, help them to have success in this business as a whole.

“I always tell everybody, ‘I feel so fortunate for the life that I have and my family and I have. It’s because of this job, and now there is a real opportunity for everyone in this line of work to have that.’ I want that for them. I understand how they feel, but as I mentioned to them, ‘while you are here, I still want to put you in a prominent role.’ There are no hard feelings in that respect. There is too much talent there to waste or leave on the table. If they don’t mind work, I sure as heck don’t mind using them.”

Michaels was also asked about Blair Davenport (aka Bea Priestley), who was involved in the Women’s title unification program last summer before NXT UK was shutter, but who hasn’t been used on the Florida-based show since. HBK said they’ve also let her know they’re interested in using her on the main NXT brand, but it’s up to her whether she wants to move over to come on board full-time.

Another question had to do with whether or not NXT events going head-to-head with AEW PPVs— as Battleground will against Double or Nothing — is the new normal:

”To the best of my knowledge, no. For me, and for us, the WWE as a whole, as I’m always honest with you guys, clearly there are people far more important than me that make decisions that they don’t tell me about. For us, this was about a big Memorial Day weekend for WWE. Even though it’s a little switched around, for us, it’s a little bit of a throwback to when we would have joint weekends with NXT on Saturday and WWE pay-per-views on Sunday. This is just flip-flopped with Night of Champions on Saturday, especially coming in the afternoon, everyone felt it was a good combination to have NXT on Sunday night and create a big WWE weekend for WWE fans.

“For me, personally, I would love to have as many standalone weekends on us as we can get. No different than having to go up against the [NBA & NHL] playoffs for the last several weeks. As much as I’m a basketball fan or NHL fan, it thrills me when the playoffs are done. The less competition we can get, the better.”

Other topics Shawn covered on the call:

• He put over Bron Breakker’s growth, saying he’s finding his groove with his new heel character. They plan to get all they can out of him while they have him, which he believes to be for a while still.

• If Indi Hartwell hadn’t gotten injured and then called up to the main roster, she would have been at Battleground. Michaels would have loved to give her a lengthy run with the NXT Women’s title.

• Call-ups like Hartwell’s are proof the system is working. This was his first experience with the Draft, but he was comfortable with it. The number of people moved up from NXT presents a challenge, but he likes being able to see if they can quickly pivot and do so successfully.

• Michaels praised Women’s title finalists Lyra Valkyria & Tiffany Stratton, and specifically shouted out Sara Amato for her work for NXT and women’s wrestling in general.

• He thinks about adding a secondary women’s title every “now and then”, but believes they give their women’s roster a lot of storylines without it. He also mentioned how young their women’s locker room is post-Draft, and doesn’t want to task wrestlers still learning the ropes with representing a not-fully-defined title,

• Shawn is bull-ish on all the recent call-ups, specifically mentioning that Grayson Waller has everything needed to become a WWE Superstar. He also said Pretty Deadly and Alba Fyre & Isla Dawn were too talented for the main roster not to want, but also said Fyre & Dawn will be back to defend their NXT Women’s Tag titles at some point.

• He’s ready to go with NXT Europe, but thinks it’s prudent for WWE to wait until “everything” (meaning the Endeavor deal) is finalized.

• They collaborated on Dijak’s current character to implement his real life criminal justice education and give him the best chance to succeed. He believes Dijak will eventually return to the main roster like Finn Bálor and Apollo Crews did after their second stints in NXT.

H/t Fightful and PWInsider

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