Backstage WWE Rumors: Latest on NXT vs. AEW, Daniel Bryan and More

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2019

Backstage WWE Rumors: Latest on NXT vs. AEW, Daniel Bryan and More

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    The wrestling landscape is undergoing significant changes with the announcement of All Elite Wrestling's television debut on October 2 and the implementation of Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman as executive directors of SmackDown and Raw, respectively.

    It is no wonder, then, that those topics are at the heart of this week's backstage WWE rumors.

    What are industry insiders reporting about WWE's plans to counteract AEW's television plans, and what was Bischoff's first night on the job like for the creative team members that will answer to him?

    And what might the repeatedly teased announcement from Daniel Bryan mean for his Hall of Fame career?

    Take a look at the week in rumor and speculation.

NXT to Compete with AEW on Wednesday Nights?

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    Randall Ortman of Cageside Seats reported WWE will provide competition to All Elite Wrestling's Wednesday night show on TNT with NXT on Fox Sports 1, potentially integrating 205 Live with the brand.

    Of course, Wednesday night has been the timeslot for NXT since the advent of the WWE Network, but there will be those who paint Vince McMahon and Co. as the villains in this narrative, utilizing the "counterprogramming" term to describe WWE's move.

    NXT is the product most comparable to AEW's, as it is home to some of the most talented, acclaimed and respected indie talent in the world and features more emphasis on wins and losses than the main roster shows.

    The idea that 205 Live may be added to the mix to really strengthen the show is intriguing, if only because there are a handful of talents that made a name for themselves in NXT before segueing on to the Tuesday night program, including Buddy Murphy, Oney Lorcan and Humberto Carrillo.

    It remains to be announced that NXT will definitely be picked up as part of the television deal with Fox and moved to the FS1 platform, but it has been rumored for quite some time, and the report by Ortman continues speculation that AEW will not debut without competition this October.

Daniel Bryan's Career-Altering Announcement

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    Ortman continued a busy week by reporting that Daniel Bryan's teased career-altering announcement could be a move to 205 Live.

    One the surface, that appears to be a demotion for Bryan. In reality, though, it would allow him to bring his star power to a brand desperately in need of it while simultaneously elevating the talent on that roster.

    There is no denying the raw talent on the 205 Live brand.

    The aforementioned Murphy has been as consistently great as anyone, Lorcan is a hard-hitting buzzsaw of a competitor, Mike Kanellis has been doing some underrated things on the show, and guys like Akira Tozawa, Brian Kendrick, Jack Gallagher and Tony Nese have been standard-bearers since its inception.

    Working with those guys not only allows Bryan to have great matches and a platform on which to get his "The New Daniel Bryan" persona even more screen time, but it also makes those Superstars bigger stars by proxy.

    Of everything Bryan could announce, the move to 205 Live would probably be best for both him and the brand, especially if another main event run is not in the cards right now.

Update on Eric Bischoff's Role as SmackDown Executive Director

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    Mike Johnson of reported Eric Bischoff's first night on the job as executive director of SmackDown Live was the July 23 episode.

    According to Johnson, "Bischoff sat in on production meetings and was seen spending lots of time with members of WWE's Creative team, but beyond that, there was no real obvious change to the usual TV taping process."

    And that is how it should be.

    Making major changes fresh into a job only creates friction, undermines the creative process and leads to a messier show than it has to be. Look no further than Vince Russo's debut as head writer for WCW back in 1999, when the show went off the rails after a fairly sudden change in direction.

    By spending time with the writers, paying attention to the creative process and investing himself, he proves to those around him that he is genuinely interested in making the show better rather than walking in the door and making massive changes that descend the show into chaos and earn him political enemies.

    It is a smart move, one that will earn him favor and keep SmackDown rolling as the clear superior of the two main roster brands.