The impossibly nice Trish Stratus was interviewed ahead of her Summerslam match. I was particularly interested in her preparation for her big return, and she told me she'd been training with Rob Fuego to get ready. She said that she was happy that she had her 2018 Royal Rumble and Evolution appearances to help prepare her, citing it as a confidence boost more than anything. She broke down the differences in preparing herself for a singles match to the Royal Rumble, and she was pleased with how her body held up when getting ready. Ramping up her yoga was a big part of the process. She went from 20 minutes at home a day to something a little more intense.
I asked her about the modern generation stepping in and using her moves, and Stratus claimed that she sees it as an honor. She cited Melina, Carmella and Liv Morgan specifically, but said that the first time she'd really heard about her inspiring this generation was at last year's Royal Rumble.
This interview was also filmed by WWE, and briefly shown in their digital clip for Trish's Summerslam Diary.
Darren Young Making A Finisher
I spoke to Darren Young for a Making A Finisher feature, and it sure was an interesting one. He recalled being given the Crossface Chickenwing when he picked up Bob Backlund as a life coach, only to have it taken away because it was "a dangerous move," which he said was baffling to him. WWE told him it would be tough to use against people with shoulder issues, and he took it personally. A few weeks later, Miz let him know that Asuka was using the move on NXT TV, and it set Young off. He actually admitted in another interview that he ended up crying because of it.
Young told me that the secret of making the Crossface Chickenwing look good was being able to rag doll people, but being able to do it safely. He also expanded on his Gut Check move, and specifically buried Alberto Del Rio for not being able to take it very well.
Ali joked with me about his name change, saying that it could have came about because half the arena was chanting "Mustafa," while the rest of the crowd chanted "Ali." He assured the name change didn't bother him as much as he's let on in the past.
I asked about his December call-up to the WWE Smackdown brand, which he insisted was supposed to be a one-off. The following week at the double tapings, he was informed just hours ahead of time that he'd be getting a full call-up to Smackdown. He said that not getting advance notice was a bit of a recurring theme in WWE, and originally he was just hoping to create buzz for the 205 Live brand to carry it over there.
His call-up has resulted in stops and starts, and he's well aware of that, saying that he hasn't been able to get his feet underneath him. He has, however, maintained control creatively of his vignettes. WWE knows that if they try to recreate them, it'll become something else, so they're hands off. When Vince McMahon orders a vignette, Ali has one made.
Ahead of Monday, there was almost no buzz among those we spoke to about NXT moving to cable TV. It wasn't being discussed that much backstage, and nobody really seemed in the loop as to what was going on from a talent perspective. One we talked to said that it made sense, with some newly re-signed talent heading back there recently.
Ahead of last Monday, there was almost no buzz among those we spoke to about NXT moving to cable TV. It wasn't being discussed that much backstage, and nobody really seemed in the loop as to what was going on from a talent perspective. One we talked to said that it made sense, with some newly re-signed talent heading back there recently. However, in the last few days, several other main roster talent have sounded off.
A highly placed source hit us with a "yeah, what of it?" kind of reaction when we'd asked them about it, apparently not arsed by the entire situation. Ahead of this week's shows, we were just told that the impact felt on the main roster would be minimal at least immediately.
One talent had no clue that NXT was bound for cable, and seemed pretty detached from the news cycle when we filled them in. Meanwhile, a veteran told us that they wondered how viewers would respond to the NXT style over the course of two hours.
Another name that doesn't have the concern of traveling much had heard about it, but wasn't sure of the schedule that NXT would face, but expected it to be treated as the "third" brand regardless of buzz. They admitted it would be difficult to get people to choose NXT over the "new" feel of AEW, but thinks AEW will outdraw NXT in attendance, and NXT will outdraw AEW on TV. The aspect they were most interested in are the producers and agents who are "all hands on deck" at tapings and PPVs, but also have to contribute at the Performance Center throughout the week.
There were several who actually work for NXT who weren't clued in on the exact details of the deal ahead of time, and found out when everyone else did.
Thus far, nobody that we've spoken to in NXT or close to NXT have had pay raises discussed, from the top, to people starting out, to people who handle backstage duties. Several names were expecting them with the move to USA Network, but also know the deal just came together and there are details to be ironed out.
WWE has also spoken to people on the main roster side of things about helping out with NXT, but no names were revealed, and those wheels were already in motion independent of the deal. This was said to be commonplace, and nothing out of the ordinary over the past several years.