Vince McMahon Reportedly Praises Women's Stars; WWE Draft Rumors; AEW vs. NXTAugust 7, 2020
Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.
Vince McMahon Applauds Peyton Royce, Bianca Belair and Bayley
Several female Superstars have received new opportunities to shine thanks to extended television time in recent months with Becky Lynch (maternity leave) and Charlotte Flair (surgery) away from the company, and at least three have apparently made a strong impression on Vince McMahon.
Royce and Belair were named as wrestlers who've shown the WWE chairman they're on the verge of deserving a serious singles push, and Bayley was praised for her heel turn and subsequent run as a double champion by McMahon during a company meeting last week, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc.).
Bayley, who arrived to the main roster as a colorful, kid-friendly character, has completely shifted into a dastardly heel persona and delivered some strong promos to help solidify her as a key contributor, not only in the women's division, but WWE as a whole.
In July, the SmackDown women's champion and WWE women's tag team champion, a title reign she shares with Sasha Banks, told Stephanie Chase of Digital Spy the lack of fans at events because of the coronavirus pandemic has actually helped her transition.
"It's helped me a lot because I don't really have to worry about the fan's approval or worry about fans believing in what I'm doing or not buying into what I'm saying in promos or anything like that," she said. "I've found a certain annoyance in my character. I think that I can be very loud, and it basically just echoes in the Performance Center because there's nobody there and I just think it's hilarious."
Meanwhile, Royce has teamed with Billie Kay to form The IIconics since early in her time in NXT. Although she received some singles opportunities in NXT, they've been slow to develop on the main roster, with the main focus remaining on the tag team division.
A traditional turn on Kay, the groundwork of which has already been laid in recent months, to set the stage for her first singles feud would make a lot of sense.
Belair has been one of the company's most underutilized talents in recent years, spanning time both in NXT and a brief appearance on the Raw brand. Her in-ring work and impressive mic skills haven't led to a singles title run yet, but it sounds like that may soon change.
She's due for a character reboot after previously working with The Street Profits, and McMahon's reported comments are a positive sign her breakout opportunity is on the horizon.
2020 WWE Draft Rumored to Take Place in October
Plans for this year's WWE draft have shifted frequently in recent months as other storylines have taken center stage with a more limited roster amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Things may finally be coming into focus, though. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported (via Felix Upton of Ringside News) the draft was set for late August following SummerSlam, but the addition of another pay-per-view broadcast on Aug. 30 has moved it back to October.
Adjusting the Raw and SmackDown rosters would be particularly helpful to create a fresh set of feuds for the remainder of the year.
While changing brands can occur without a draft, the wide-scale turnover the typically annual event provides a more substantial boost for several Superstars. That's valuable for those who've struggled to find a consistent place on the weekly shows.
If the draft doesn't happen in October, it could be difficult to fit one in the schedule before 2021, especially since it usually happens during the aftermath of WrestleMania. Next year's Showcase of the Immortals is set for late March, and it wouldn't make much sense to do two drafts in short succession.
Tony Khan Celebrates AEW's Ratings Victory over NXT
All Elite Wrestling Dynamite scored a substantial ratings win over NXT on Wednesday night as the brand attempts to create some separation after a back-and-forth battle for most of the year.
Tony Khan, AEW's founder and the co-owner of Fulham Football Club, celebrated the show's success along with his soccer club's promotion to the English Premier League:
Tony Khan @TonyKhan
Thank you everyone who watched #AEWDynamite last night! Thanks to you we were top 5 in the 18-49 demo again + our biggest overall audience since pre-pandemic! With Fulham winning the Play-Offs & back in the Premier League + this Dynamite rating, it’s the best week I’ve ever had.
Their recent run of success seemingly isn't sitting well in WWE headquarters.
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter noted (via Paul Davis of WrestlingNews.co) there's "a lot of unhappiness within the company about NXT losing in the ratings."
WWE is brainstorming ways to turn the tide back in its favor on Wednesday nights, including discussions about bringing Superstars from Raw and SmackDown to NXT to create high-profile matchups, per Davis.
It's an important stretch for NXT executives, including Triple H, as they attempt to keep the ratings war competitive as AEW shows signs of potentially pulling away.