Karrion Kross went from NXT Champion to an afterthought in the eyes of many fans once he was moved to WWE Raw.
Kross, as the NXT Champion, lost his Raw debut to Jeff Hardy and after officially being moved to the main roster, started to see a character transformation as suspenders and a helmet were added.
The disconnect between his character in WWE and his character in NXT, Kross believes, led to immediate issues for the fans.
"He told me he was very happy with everything I was doing," Kross said on Busted Open Radio when asked what feedback he was given by Vince McMahon. "In terms of bringing a character to life, aside from the outfit, I wasn't given much direction, so I just continued doing what I was doing in NXT in terms of presentation, which unfortunately felt like it was amputated because Scarlett was still singing the music, she wasn't there, and there were still remnants of what we did in NXT with no explanation as to why the character was wearing a helmet and suspenders."
Kross said that Vince made himself very accessible during his time on the main roster.
When asked if things could have been handled differently, Kross said, "I'll take the onus and say, right off the bat, I went wrong with this, in retrospect, maybe perhaps being too over compliant. I wasn't crazy about the outfit. I felt comfortable wearing it. I knew it looked a little silly, but from my point of view, I wanted to embrace these ideas given to me because people had previously embraced the ideas I had given to them. It was a collaboration, always. I just wanted to demonstrate that. I probably should have said no and I should have tried to sell them on what we created and done in NXT because I believe we should have stayed the course. The fans were invested. The moment we walked out there with the presentation we did in NXT, people online were saying they wanted to see it at WrestleMania. I really should have attempted to assert myself with that idea. Respectfully, where I think they went wrong with us, was not providing the audience with a little bit more continuity and explanation as to what was going on because people checked out emotionally from what they were watching because they didn't have any explanation as to what was going on. In the written world of fiction, we can come up with any reason, as long as it's logical and respectful to their intelligence, as to why things are off or different. Week to week, they never got that and they checked out and got into analytical mode rather than enjoying the story and taking in what we were putting ourselves through. They just sat there going, 'what is going on?' That's the worst thing you could want in wrestling. When they are no longer attached emotionally, you're dead in the water."
Kross noted that feedback in NXT at the time of his debut could only come through social media as fans weren't in the building due to the pandemic.
When speaking on advice given to him from others, Kross said, "There was a lot of people, I won't throw them under the bus, but there were a lot of people who had been with the company for a long time telling me not to sell anything. I said, 'no problem,' business is business and we'll get through it. Whatever they need to see out of me and whatever I need to demonstrate, I'll do it and we're good to go."
He said that he didn't want to be seen as tough to work with and had a family to support so he wanted to keep his job.
He did however say that he did bring up his issues, respectfully, to management.
"I will say, I did, at a point, I believe it was the second week of the outfit, I spoke with management and told them, 'I'm saying this out of professionalism and respect, based on the reactions from last week, which are measurable through social media and the live reaction, this is not being received well. Respectfully, I do believe we should attempt to change course before it's too late. Or, we could attempt to develop some sort of narrative to put on television where we could connect what I did on NXT vs. what I'm doing here because people don't understand what's going.' To paraphrase, I was told, 'stay the course.' At the time, I thought that was crazy. I did speak up, in a respectful manner, I never walked into anyone's office and said, 'I can't do this.' I just said, 'I want to be a return on investment, if I can't do that, I'm going to be out of here. The course that we're on right now, we're about to go off a cliff,'" he recalled.
Kross is currently waiting out his 90-day non-compete clause before returning to the ring.
In an interview with Renee Paquette following his release, Kross described the "bizarre" feeling he had in the last few months of his WWE run. You can find his full comments by clicking here.
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