Quick Takes: Shaq's Debut, Lashley as WWE Champ, AEW's Next Big Signing and More

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2021

Quick Takes: Shaq's Debut, Lashley as WWE Champ, AEW's Next Big Signing and More

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    Shaquille O'Neal turned heads with his impressive in-ring performance on AEW Dynamite.
    Shaquille O'Neal turned heads with his impressive in-ring performance on AEW Dynamite.Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    The first week of March was a newsworthy one for WWE and All Elite Wrestling as both promotions produced eventful episodes of Raw and Dynamite on Monday and Wednesday, respectively.

    Starting off with the obvious, a new WWE champion has been crowned, and his name is Bobby Lashley. He finally got his shot at the prestigious prize in the main event of Raw and tapped out The Miz in a matter of minutes to win it.

    Where his highly anticipated reign goes from here heading into WrestleMania 37 is anyone's guess, especially with the plethora of Superstars waiting to challenge him. It's as much of a mystery as who AEW's next heavily touted signing is going to be come the company's Revolution event on Sunday.

    Everyone from Christian and Kurt Angle to CM Punk and Brock Lesnar are being speculated. Even if the announcement disappoints, AEW can at least lay claim to Shaquille O'Neal's in-ring debut on Dynamite living up to the hype.

    There was no guarantee that the tag team match featuring the four-time NBA champion was going to be any good, yet he found a way to wow the audience and exceed expectations.

    His impressive performance will be discussed in this edition of Quick Takes along with a rumored new title for NXT, the black-and-gold brand moving to Wednesday nights, and more.

Shaquille O'Neal Delivers in Dynamite Debut

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    AEW had been hyping up the eventual in-ring debut of Shaquille O'Neal for many months, but despite his previous involvement with wrestling years ago, nothing about his storyline with Cody Rhodes, Brandi Rhodes and Jade Cargill stood out as special or exciting.

    Shaq held up his end of the angle well, but there was no telling how Cargill—who is still very inexperienced in the ring—was going to do. Add in how Cody has felt underutilized throughout the feud and Brandi's pregnancy causing plans to change, and it was a recipe for disaster.

    When the bell rang on Wednesday night, though, none of that mattered. It turned into a total spectacle that the audience enjoyed and everyone involved had their time to shine.

    Shaq came off excellently thanks to Cody's selling, Red Velvet (Brandi's replacement) performed exceptionally well, and even Cargill showed some signs of promise. By no means was the match a masterpiece—and Cargill and Velvet should be nowhere near title contention any time soon—but for expectations fans set for it going in, the bout was everything it needed to be and then some.

    With Shaq and Cargill picking up the victory when the latter pinned Velvet and Shaq oddly disappeared from the ambulance afterward, all signs seem to point to the NBA icon not being done with wrestling.

    That could mean a match with AEW newcomer Paul Wight at some point, and Shaq's successful debut this past week gets him one step closer toward that happening.

NXT Doesn't Need Its Own Set of Women's Tag Team Titles

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    The biggest bout on Wednesday's edition of NXT saw Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler return to defend their WWE Women's Tag Team Championship against the dangerous duo of Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez. The match itself was solid, but the controversial outcome was what had everyone talking in the days that followed.

    The finish saw Baszler tap out Kai for the win despite Kai not being the legal woman. Additionally, courtesy of WWE official Adam Pearce, it was a Raw referee who called for the bell after the NXT referee got knocked out.

    William Regal was shown discussing something with Pearce backstage in the remainder of the night before declaring he'd have an announcement next week that would "change the landscape of NXT."

    PWInsider's Mike Johnson reported on Saturday that the current plan is crown the first-ever NXT women's tag team champions at the next TakeOver event over WrestleMania weekend.

    Needless to say, women's tag titles in NXT aren't necessary in the slightest.

    There can be little doubt that the brand's women's division is the best anywhere in the country right now, but with the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship already able to be defended across all three shows, the ladies of NXT should have the chance to fight for those more frequently.

    More titles is not the answer to WWE's women's tag team problem. The division is depleted as it is, and giving the current set of women's tag titles to NXT for the foreseeable future would be a much easier solution.

Bobby Lashley Must Be WWE Champion for the Foreseeable Future

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    WWE has been criticized before (and often rightfully so) for not striking when the iron was hot with certain Superstars, but thankfully, that was not the case with Bobby Lashley on Monday's edition of Raw.

    The All Mighty has been on fire since linking up with MVP last spring, and following his dominant reign as United States champion, it was clear he was primed for bigger and better things in WWE.

    Sure enough, he emerged victorious when it mattered most on Monday night and became WWE champion for the first time in his career.

    It would have been unnecessary to wait until Fastlane or even WrestleMania 37 to give Lashley his crowning moment. Instead, it makes more sense for him to walk into each of those events with the gold in his grasp as well as walking out still champion.

    Based on how he's been booked lately, it would be a massive mistake for WWE to take the title off him any time soon. That includes him losing it right back to Drew McIntyre at The Show of Shows on April 10-11, which is a real possibility at this point.

    As great of a reign as the Scot had as champ, it should be Lashley's time in the spotlight for the immediate future. Unless his run is a complete flop, there's no reason for him to lose the belt any earlier than SummerSlam, regardless of who it's to.

    The era of The All Mighty is finally upon us, and to cut it short any time soon would be premature.

NXT Moving from Wednesdays to Tuesdays Is the Right Call

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    After over six years on Wednesday nights, NXT may be calling Tuesdays home in the not-too-distant future.

    The Mat Men Pro Wrestling Podcast reported a rumor this past week indicating that NXT could be moving off Wednesdays after WrestleMania 37, which Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter later backed up. While not yet set in stone, it would be the best move for the black-and-gold brand at this point.

    It's no secret that NXT has been on the losing end of its battle for viewers with AEW Dynamite more often than not since the start of the "Wednesday Night Wars" in October 2019. Neither brand has been able to grow its audience past one million weekly viewers, though it has made for some tremendous television on both ends.

    Putting NXT on Tuesday nights would take away that aspect of competition, but the idea should be to still put forth the best product possible even if they aren't airing opposite of Dynamite. The same should go for AEW.

    The ratings for both brands have largely remained stagnant, so no matter how strong the shows are, numbers haven't been as high as they could be. The only way to improve that would be by putting the shows on separate nights and hoping for the best.

Who Could Be AEW's Next Big Signing?

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    Paul Wight arrived in AEW with a bang with his Dynamite debut on Wednesday, promising a "huge, Hall of Fame-worthy" signing for Sunday's Revolution pay-per-view.

    Coming off the signing of the former Big Show, it's hard to imagine which other free agent could join the promotion who would be as shocking or as notable. According to Wight and AEW President Tony Khan, it'll be someone fans will (hopefully) be happy with.

    Fans have been speculating all weekend as to who the mystery man—or woman—could be. One name that has been brought up is Christian, who is apparently not under any sort of a deal with WWE, per Raj Giri of WrestlingInc.com, and could appear if he wanted.

    He's had a Hall of Fame-worthy career and would be a nice addition to the roster, though it can be debated that he isn't worth all the hype this announcement has been getting. Kurt Angle arguably would be, but he's already a WWE Hall of Famer and wrestled his last match at WrestleMania 35.

    Angle could come out of retirement, but that last string of matches he had in early 2019 were far from great and thus there isn't anything left for him to prove in AEW. He could bring value to the promotion as a manager, but there isn't one person who makes sense for him to be aligned with.

    Mark Henry and Rob Van Dam have been rumored as well but could be considered disappointments. CM Punk and Brock Lesnar are the only two people who would be worthy of the billing and be seen as significant signings, but the odds of either debuting at Revolution are slim to none.


    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.