Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.
Triple H Talks NXT Model
Triple H founded the NXT brand that exploded in popularity several years ago before transitioning to NXT 2.0 last year, but now that he is the head of WWE creative, he conceivably can have as much influence on the brand as he wants.
While NXT began as a developmental brand, it evolved over time and began to feature more experienced performers who were stars on the independent scene. The philosophy changed last year with the transition to NXT 2.0, as WWE went back to featuring less-experienced wrestlers with the goal of building them from the ground up.
"NXT, for us, is that academy model or sort of that collegiate athletics for us. If Raw and SmackDown are the NFL ... NXT is collegiate athletics. And we had a small brand here called NXT UK. We were headed down this road prior to the pandemic, pandemic kind of like, put a hold on it. But, we shut that brand down because we're going to relaunch it in 2023 as NXT Europe and try to blow it out bigger."
Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the first episode of NXT 2.0, and the show ended with a new logo being revealed, sans the "2.0" branding.
That led to speculation among fans that NXT would be transitioning back to what it was during its heyday under Triple H, but that may not necessarily be the case since Triple H has largely been supportive of the direction publicly.
Also, Shawn Michaels has been the one in charge of NXT over the past year, and Triple H's primary focus is likely to be on Raw and SmackDown, although there promises to be more synergy between NXT and the main roster with The Game in charge.
NXT has had a collegiate feel over the past year in terms of taking green performers and molding them into stars, and the brand has largely been successful in that regard, with Bron Breakker being the most obvious example.
WWE may not shy away from using veterans in NXT more often moving forward, but it seems like the crux of the brand will remain its development of young, inexperienced wrestlers.
Bayley on Differing Relationships with Triple H, Vince
Bayley gave her take this week on the differences and similarities between working under Vince McMahon and Triple H.
Appearing on In The Kliq (h/t Cohen), Bayley noted that while she has enjoyed working with both of them, there is a different feeling with Triple H in charge since he was the head of NXT when she signed with the company:
"I've had a great relationship with [Triple H] since NXT, and he's watched me grow and we've had many conversations," she said. "He knows me, and it's so easy to be able to talk to him. Like, I had a great relationship with Vince as well, but he kind of didn't watch me grow up like Hunter did. So having him there and just having him very hands-on ... It feels like 'The Twilight Zone,' like we're back seven years, you know, in NXT. But what Hunter is doing is just changing and revolutionizing what WWE was already, which was already an amazing show."
Shortly after Bayley arrived in WWE in 2012, she developed into arguably the most popular figure in the history of the brand, as her bubbly "hugger" character got over huge with the NXT fanbase.
The gimmick never translated well to the main roster under McMahon's guidance, but he was intuitive enough to allow Bayley to turn heel for the first time in her WWE career, and it worked to perfection.
It can be argued that the best run of Bayley's career occurred when she was a heel alongside Sasha Banks and held the SmackDown Women's Championship for a record 379 days.
Bayley missed more than a year with a knee injury, and by the time she returned at SummerSlam in July, Triple H had taken over creative duties from McMahon after he retired.
The transition in power likely paved the way for Bayley to lead her own stable called Damage CTRL with Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky by her side. Before Triple H took over, Kai had been released and there was talk of Sky leaving WWE for her native Japan at the conclusion of her contract.
Instead, Triple H allowed Bayley to work with two talents she likes and respects immensely, which speaks to how positive of a working relationship they have and will likely continue to expand moving forward.
Updates on Toxic Attraction Call-Up, Aliyah Injury
The WWE women's division could be receiving a shake-up of sorts based on some news tidbits that surfaced this week.
According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Subhojeet Mukherjee of Ringside News), WWE has "talked about" calling Toxic Attraction members Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne up to the main rosters, and the discussions have been ongoing for "a while."
Dolin and Jayne were named replacements for Nikkita Lyons and Zoey Stark in the tournament for the vacant WWE Women's Tag Team Championships, and they beat Natalya and Sonya Deville in the first round, but they were removed from the tourney due to injury.
While Dolin and Jayne soon returned to competition in NXT, they resurfaced again on SmackDown two weeks ago, losing to Raquel Rodriguez and Aliyah.
There was some thought that they had been called up, but they went back to wrestling in NXT as well, and they may be trying to get back in the hunt for the NXT Women's Tag Team Championships they held twice.
While Toxic Attraction is likely ready for the main roster, it may make more sense to wait until leader Mandy Rose loses the NXT Women's Championship before calling them up.
In other news, Meltzer (h/t Mukherjee) reported that Aliyah is dealing with a minor injury and is expected to be back in action next week.
When Rodriguez got attacked last week on SmackDown, it was Shotzi who made the save rather than Aliyah, and it was mentioned on commentary that Aliyah was out due to injury.
Rodriguez and Aliyah won the tournament to crown new WWE women's tag team champions, but they dropped them to Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky of Damage CTRL shortly thereafter, creating some uncertainty regarding the direction of Rodriguez and Aliyah as a team moving forward.
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