By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE executive Shawn Michaels spoke with the pro wresting media on Thursday, September 28, 2023 to promote Saturday’s NXT No Mercy premium live event. Refresh the page for the latest updates.
-Shawn Michaels opened up the call and ran through the No Mercy lineup. He also announced that the NXT Deadline premium live event will return on December 9 from Bridgeport, Connecticut at Total Mortgage Arena.
-Michaels was asked about the status of NXT Europe. Michaels said he’s looking forward to it, but he’s still waiting. He’s hopeful that it will start in 2024. “I’m a soldier just waiting on marching orders, but I’m definitely ready to go,” Michaels said. He also spoke positively about working with the NXT UK talent. He praised the UK talent for delivering on the shows and also working with new talent at the WWE Performance Center.
-Michaels said they still have every intention of using Gable Steveson. He said he has a lot of outside commitments and he doesn’t want to get in the way of any of his personal goals. Michaels said Steveson has been on live events. He said he wants to get Steveson’s schedule as organized as possible and then sit down with him and figure out how they can use him.
-Michaels said Blair Davenport vs. Kelani Jordan will be held on the NXT No Mercy Kickoff Show. Michaels brought up Gigi Dolin and said there’s some bad blood between her and Davenport.
-Michaels said he found out about Mustafa Ali “right before he did.” Michaels said he’d be lying if he said they weren’t taken by surprise. He said he thinks the world of Mustafa and will miss him. “The fire drill is something that is a regular thing in WWE and certainly here in NXT,” Michaels said. He added that they adjusted. He said Ali has a bright future and he will miss him.
-Michaels was asked if there were any other releases that affected their plans. Michaels said Dana Brooke’s release caught them by surprise. He said he didn’t want it to sound insensitive, but it’s not the first time they’ve gone through something like this. Michaels said he may have grown a bit, because he doesn’t get upset.
-The addition of Jade Cargill’s signing was brought up. He said he met with her briefly and found her to be a pleasant young lady. He said said he understands the buzz and called her an awesome specimen and a striking young lady. Michaels said he’d be lying if he said he didn’t want her in NXT.
-Michaels was asked about the NXT television ratings and how much of bringing in main roster talent is strategic to raise the number with the TV deals coming up. Michaels said he used to look at the ratings every week. He said he’s not a numbers guy, but he learned a lot about them when he was the guy holding the belt and now that he’s the guy running the show. He said they have been trending up. Michaels spoke about how Vince McMahon wanted them to focus on the 18-34 demographic because he wanted them to reach a younger demo. He said they look at the main roster as a Trojan horse and out of that comes all the NXT stars. He said they are hoping to expose a lot of NXT talent to them when a Becky Lynch comes in and obviously that those viewers come back. Michaels said other shows feature a lot of matches where people wrestle because they are angry with one another. He said there are different reasons and stakes for why people have matches on the NXT show.
-Michaels said Trick Williams is the epitome of what they want. He said you won’t find a guy who works harder. He called him a fantastic young man. He said he puts in extra ring time and tells Michaels that he’s happy with what he’s doing and yet he wants more. Michaels said a lot of what they are doing with Williams based on his real life in that he wants to stand on his own. He said Williams is a top three guy in terms of how hard he works. He said that when Williams stumbles and falls, you can tell him and he adjusts without getting his feelings hurt. “I can’t say enough about his progression here,” Michaels said. He added that Williams easily could have grown comfortable in his role due to his gift of gab. Michael said William knew he needed to improve in the ring and he’s self-accountable. He said that’s why Williams is getting this opportunity this weekend and noted that it’s his first time in the spotlight.
-Michaels was asked about where NXT fits and whether he would be open to a non-traditional platform. He said those decisions are left to people smarter than he is, but he personally would hope for a younger and hipper network. He praised USA Network as a partner. Michaels said he’s waiting like everyone else to see where they land. Michaels noted that they are competing to be the number one show on cable on Tuesday nights.
-I asked Michaels about Tiffany Stratton saying she wants to go to the main roster and feels that WrestleMania is a good time for her. Michaels said he thinks some of it comes from the media asking about call-ups. He said he and the talent don’t make those decisions. He said there are things she can learn and feels she can do that before WrestleMania. The next caller asked about her work with Becky Lynch. Michael spoke favorably about it and how talents can learn things from the main roster.
-A caller asked about NXT running events in South America. Michaels said he would love to, but he assumed it would be some time before NXT gets that opportunity as developmental or a third brand.
-Michaels was asked whether he would welcome CM Punk into NXT or if WWE would welcome him back in general. Michaels said of course they would welcome him in NXT, but he assumes he would go to the main roster. Michaels said he didn’t work with Punk much, but he did enjoy it when he did. He recalled Punk pulling out an autograph that he had signed for him at a hotel years earlier. Michaels said Punk is a different cat and maybe that’s why he likes him. Michaels said the decision will be made by people higher on the food chain. Michaels reiterated that of course he would take Punk in NXT, but he said he didn’t think they would let him (due to being a third or developmental brand).
-The final caller asked about wrestlers going to the main roster and not being treated as well as they were in NXT. Michaels compared NXT to college and said he wants it to be fun. He said mistakes will be made and he wants the talent to feel free to make them and try things out. He said it’s a business and he’ll always be a perfectionist behind the scenes like he was in the ring. He said he encourages the talent to enjoy the process and understand that the highs and lows will be there. He said that’s the best way to help them adjust to life on the main roster and life in general. Michaels said he doesn’t want the talent putting too much pressure on themselves or to get too anxious. Michaels said that if you can’t handle things in NXT, then you won’t be able to handle things on the main roster. Michaels closed out the call shortly thereafter.