Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.
Kevin Owens Talks Potential Return to NXT
After three months off television because of an injury suffered at WrestleMania 36, Kevin Owens made his much-anticipated return to Raw on Monday and defeated Seth Rollins with some help from Aleister Black, Rey Mysterio and Dominick.
Even though Owens is entrenched on the red brand right now, he is hoping for an opportunity to have another extended run in NXT.
In an interview with CBS Sports' Brent Brookhouse, K.O. explained why he would like to go back to where his career in WWE began in 2014:
"I've been vocal about wanting to go back there because I'd love to help make it grow even more and help make it as big as it can get and make it so we have three brands people know about. I would love for people to be just as aware of NXT as they are about Raw and SmackDown. I would have loved to be a part of that, but some decisions were made that I had to stay put on Raw and SmackDown. That's fine, but I would love the chance to go back.
"I talk to Triple H pretty regularly and we bring it up once in a while. It's just about timing. There's a lot of opportunities. The landscape of WWE is changing quite a bit through this situation and I think it's going to keep evolving. The ideal scenario for me would be for NXT to be viewed as a third brand, and if it's not already, it's pretty close. I'd love to be a part of anything. I love to contribute to SmackDown, to Raw, to NXT. I just want to go where I'm needed and try to make a difference."
Owens also noted at one point he had a discussion with Vince McMahon about going to NXT, but it didn't work out.
There was a time when NXT was only used as a stepping stone for superstars before they got to Raw or SmackDown.
More recently, though, the brand has been put on equal footing with those others because of its increased exposure on the USA Network. Charlotte Flair had a two-month reign as NXT women's champion after defeating Rhea Ripley to win the title at WrestleMania 36.
Finn Balor has been working exclusively on NXT since the show debuted on USA last October.
Owens is so good in the ring and on the microphone that putting him in the same environment as stars who are fairly new to the WWE universe, like Keith Lee and Karrion Kross, would help raise their profile to the audience.
Having NXT as an equal brand also allows WWE to build new rivalries so that someone like Owens doesn't have to keep wrestling Rollins after the two went through a long feud leading up to WrestleMania.
Bischoff, SmackDown Writers Watched AEW
During Eric Bischoff's brief run as executive director of SmackDown last year, one thing the former WCW president did with the show's writing staff was watch AEW.
On AEW's Fight for the Fallen preview show with Tony Khan (h/t Felix Upton of Ringside News), Bischoff said he and the SmackDown writing staff had a viewing session of AEW Dynamite and the WWE program: "[...] When I was with WWE last year, I sat down and watched both shows side-by-side, and I was working with WWE at the time and I was watching it in a writer's conference room with a bunch of other writers."
One key thing that Bischoff highlighted about the differences between the two companies having to run shows in a changed format right now because of the coronavirus pandemic is that AEW "feels more like live TV," whereas WWE's method of "tighter" shots seems designed to hide the venue.
Since WWE and AEW are in a ratings battle every Wednesday with NXT and Dynamite going head-to-head, it makes sense that both sides would study each other to glean strengths and weaknesses from their television production.
For instance, early on in the pandemic, WWE decided not to use employees in the stands to act as fans; AEW put employees in the stands to cheer, boo and make noise so that wrestlers would have something to react to like in a normal situation.
WWE eventually decided to follow suit, and it's worked a lot better to create some semblance of normalcy for all of its weekly programming.
Bischoff was hired by WWE in June 2019 to primarily work alongside Fox executives for the launch of SmackDown on the network. He was replaced by Bruce Prichard on Oct. 15, less than two weeks after the show's Oct. 4 Fox debut.
FTR Discusses Move to AEW
Nearly two months after their debut in AEW, the tag-team duo of Dax Hardwood and Cash Wheeler discussed moving to their new home after spending six years in WWE.
Appearing on The Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast (h/t Ross Kelly of Wrestling Inc.), Harwood said the team has "almost a handshake deal" with AEW president Tony Khan about any potential restrictions for where they can perform.
"As he said, the only restriction is the pandemic, which is obviously a huge restriction. But we have our fate in our hands right now. We get to call the shots and control and say what we want to do when we want to do it," Wheeler added.
AEW has deals with some of its top stars, like Jon Moxley and Chris Jericho, that allows them to work shows for other promotions outside of the United States. Both stars have done matches for New Japan Pro Wrestling, including this year.
FTR, formerly known as The Revival in WWE, hasn't had an opportunity to test itself in New Japan to this point. The promotion did return on June 15 and was able to run shows this past weekend with fans in the stands, though capacity at Osaka Jo Hall was limited to 33 percent.
Harwood noted that FTR has specific goals for itself in mind: "One of those goals is to wrestle for every company against every tag team that thinks they're better than us and prove them wrong."
FTR is still fighting its way into the AEW tag title picture, but the team had a superb match at Fyter Fest as part of an eight-man tag match with the Young Bucks against The Butcher and The Blade and Lucha Brothers.
The finish of that bout seemed to be setting up a Young Bucks-FTR feud, as Matt Jackson nailed Harwood with a kick before Pentagon and Fenix hit Jackson with a fire driver for the pinfall.
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