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Kevin Owens Talks WWE Transition and NXT Sami Zayn Feud

May 22, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Nobody ever doubted whether Kevin Owens had the tools to make the switch to the WWE. Yet even Owen’s supporters are impressed with his quick success in making the transition yet according to Owens, it really hasn’t been much of a transition at all.

Kevin Owens made one of the most memorable WWE RAW debuts in years this past Monday when he laid out John Cena. Owens is on his way to becoming a money player in the WWE as NXT champion and a new feud against John Cena. Owens rise to the top is coming quicker than anyone has expected and as Owens told RollingStone.com recently, his success may be credited with a very minor transition process from the independents to the WWE.

I had a bit of a struggle at first with thinking, “Who do I want to be here? What part of myself do I want to tap into so I get on NXT television as quick as possible?” Then I realized what I’d been doing for 14 years had worked because it had gotten me here. So there were little tweaks, maybe clean up the language a little, but besides that I think I’ve been pretty true to myself. And I think that’s a big part of what helps me be successful. I’m genuine, and I think people can see that when they watch. I’m just gonna keep going that way and see where that takes me.

Owens’ story is a great lesson here that I hope isn’t being missed by the WWE. The process for most new signees has been to strip them down to basics and rebuild them with a WWE style. Guys like Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, and even Seth Rollins all had to go through rebuilding periods. For whatever reason, Owens was able to stay true to himself and the skills that brought him there. Whether this was an experiment or not, it’s working and it needs to be considered for all future signees coming in with large pedigrees outside of the WWE.

For independent road warriors like Owens, the NXT schedule is a breath of fresh air. I worked with Owens quite a bit in CZW and at the time he was making drives from Canada to Philadelphia in a packed car for little money. The new schedule is well deserved for someone like Owens who has certainly paid his dues.

One of the big advantages of NXT for me was I get to sleep in my own bed every night almost. For years, I was on the road with the indies two, three days a week, and it got to the point where I’d wake up not sure which town I was in. Which, honestly, I kind of liked. That’s part of being a wrestler. But when I signed with WWE and moved to Orlando, my wife and my two kids came with me. That’s been great. My daughter just turned one a couple of weeks ago, so I get to be there for a lot of the landmarks I didn’t necessarily get to see with my first kid. That said, I do look forward to getting back on the road when the time is right.

It also doesn’t hurt to work with your close friend and best rival in your first WWE program. Owens jumped right into NXT feuding with Sami Zayn. Zayn and Owens as El Genrico and Kevin Steen had one of the greatest rivalries in Ring of Honor history just a few years back. Owens was asked about the NXT feud and distinguishing it from their past rivalry.

I haven’t done anything in particular. We have been who we are, and I speak for Sami Zayn here as well. In that aspect, we are very alike. A lot of people have doubted us throughout the years, we know we can make those people come around. We’ve never faltered from that, so why try to be different here? And we haven’t tried to be different and it’s been working very well, so I think that says something not only about the faith we have in ourselves, but about people being true to themselves. I think that’s important in this day and age. With social media around, people can see glimpses of who we are there, so why shy away from it in another environment? All around, we’ve been true to ourselves for years, so why change now?

Check out the entire interview in RollingStone.com where Owens goes into much more depth about his transition, his mentors in NXT, and more.

WWE: It’s good to be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story

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Samoa Joe Debuts On WWE NXT Unstoppable

May 20, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

It only took him sixteen long years to get there but Samoa Joe is finally in the WWE. Joe debuted at the conclusion of the NXT Unstoppable Network special, confirming numerous reports throughout the week that predicted Joe would debut at the event.

Joe came out following the Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn match. Owens had Zayn laid out and started attacking him with a chair when Joe’s music played. Joe walked out and got into the ring going nose to nose with Owens. The fans ate it up chanting “Holy Sh*t!” and “Joe is gonna kill you.” The confrontation ended with Owens walking away and Joe looking strong to close the show.

According to a report on F4WOnline.com, Joe has a “Rhyno-like” deal in which he will work independent shows as well as NXT dates. Ironically it was announced this past week that Joe just started booking independent dates into the summer, leading many to believe that Joe was not coming to NXT. My hunch and it is only a hunch is that Joe is in, and those dates were a ruse. Joe will probably honor those dates, but I would not expect to see more announced elsewhere.

As big as this is I am left with more questions about NXT, specifically its purpose. Is NXT a developmental program or is it competing to be the number one branded independent promotion in the United States? Signing Joe is great and I am excited for him and his fans, but bringing in Joe and Owens in recent months and shooting them straight to the top isn’t necessary developing anyone.

Samoa Joe is 36-years old and should be on the main roster if he is being considered for the future. Having Joe spend any time in NXT is a wasted investment in my opinion…unless the goal here is to brand NXT and not necessarily build to the future. I think the mission and goals around NXT really need some serious re-evaluation at this point.

It also makes me wonder in the world are they bringing Owens up for a match with Cena at Elimination Chamber? Owens is clearly sticking around NXT, with programs against Joe, Zayn, and Balor in play or upcoming. Again what is the goal here? Is the goal to build Owens up for NXT or the main roster? Bringing Owens up to lose to Cena and go away will do Owens no good when the time comes for him to move up to the main roster. I am just scratching my head here trying to come up with a logical game plan here and I can’t.

Again don’t misunderstand me. I thought it was great to see Joe and Owens have their confrontation and it is nice to see Joe finally get a shot in the big league. That said I just have to wonder if the NXT Triple H is running is what Vince McMahon had in mind when he signed off on the $2.3 million investment.

WWE: It’s good to be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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Finn Balor to the main WWE roster post-Wrestlemania?

March 27, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Finn Bálor has sent shock waves through the WWE universe since signing with the company last July. With his already noteworthy reputation around the world and the amazing buzz he has caused since joining the NXT roster, the only question is not will he be called up to the main roster, but when? Word getting around is that talks within WWE are to bring Bálor up shortly after Wrestlemania.

The post Wrestlemania story line rebuild is the favorite time for WWE to bring new developmental talent up to the main roster, and this year appears no different. Names being tossed around for the move are Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville and Charlotte, all of which have spent their fair share of time with developmental. Bálor, even with his limited time with NXT (debuting at tapings last fall) is obviously just as ready for the move as the NXT veterans joining him on the rumored list. Fueling the rumor, he also worked a main roster live event last week in Anaheim defeating Tyler Breeze.

Since his arrival on the scene in NXT, Bálor has been a standout turning heads and impressing fans at every appearance. With his well crafted in ring style, grand entrance and special occasion body paint, he is bringing a much-needed fresh and exciting element to the WWE. You could see awe in the faces of the fans that had never experienced the body paint entrance of Bálor before at NXT Takeover: Evolution in December when he and Hideo Itami defeated The Ascension. The buzz has also slightly crossed into the mainstream media with TV Guide saying that he is “destined to be the organization’s next big superstar.”

With over fourteen years experience in the ring and an already endless list of achievements, the former Prince Devitt is no doubt ready for any plans the WWE will lay out for him. He has made a major name for himself with countless title victories around the world, his ability being a successful face or heel and the amazing run he had in New Japan Pro Wrestling forming the top faction in the wrestling world today, The Bullet Club.

Bálor’s age may also be a reason in WWE’s current decision-making. Turning 34 this July, he is not a young pup like many of the developmental hopefuls and that surely plays into wanting to pull the trigger on him sooner than later. Currently being at the prime of his career and athletic ability, it would be a win-win for both parties to make the move now.

Overall, if WWE does decide to go a head with this move, I see only positive reaction coming from the fan base and the boost of interest it will add to the main roster coming out of Wrestlemania season. There is always a fear of what Vince and his team will decide to do with new talent, but if they let Bálor continue on with his current success, he will be a major draw for the foreseeable future. WWE is coming off a rough year of poor fan reactions to the product and story lines they have provided. This new class of NXT talent ready to make the move to the main roster is the most exciting and intriguing yet. With Bálor leading the way, they will bring the refresh that’s needed to confidently move WWE forward in 2015.

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Matt Bloom And A New Attitude Era

March 20, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I’m one of many professional wrestling fans who are fascinated with the behind the scenes look of the business. Established wrestlers will tell you it’s a lousy business with the travel schedule, injuries, and the dangers of in-ring wrestling. One wrong move could put them out of commission for a while or for good. But what’s more fascinating to me are the training schools that produce professional wrestlers. These schools determine whether or not the students have what it takes to make it to the WWE.

What strikes me as unusual is the demeanor of trainers on their respective students. They yell at them, tell them to do specific moves over and over again until that person gets it right; sometimes maybe in front of the entire class watching them. I say to myself “I have to deal with all of that to become a professional wrestler?”

I remember over a decade ago on MTV there was a program about professional wrestling including an episode of a wrestling class taught by “Pretty Boy” Larry Sharpe. What I noticed is how his demeanor changed when class began. Yes, he needs to show tough love but he got to a point when he would act a like an A-hole to get his point across. This is possibly a psychological ploy to weed out the weak ones who don’t have the mental toughness to make it.

Tough Enough came along which was stepped up in terms of quality TV. I loved it! Steve Austin reverts back to Stone Cold Steve Austin while sexy Trish Stratus turns heel. I felt for the students whose dreams are realized or dashed through verbal and physical punishment.

Then there’s Bill DeMott. I remember watching him in particular being a sourpuss acting or maybe not acting like he had it out for his students. I thought DeMott’s character, Hugh Morruss was unique and I liked the kookiness extreme of his sadistic side to his maniacal laughs. Of the number of scenes I’d watch Bill DeMott, all I could I think of it the angry man. He’s like the one teacher in school you don’t want or the tough driving instructor when going for your driver’s license. If his demeanor was worse off the TV screen then I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near him. Because of What I’ve seen and read about what DeMott did to his students, I’m not surprised he resigned his post as head NXT trainer but I am surprised that it took this long.

In today’s day and age of technology and the internet you can’t get away with a lot of things. What one says or does can be posted or tweeted in quick turnaround time. Twenty-five, thirty years ago these stories wouldn’t have been publicized or made it on the main stage of media. Back then, the accused could claim “it’s my word against yours”. Not so in today’s case where we under the consistent microscope.

Enter Matt Bloom; formerly Prince Albert and Tensai. My initial reaction would be “Really?” But from what I’ve been reading about Bloom, this could be a smart move for the WWE. Bloom’s demeanor has been the opposite of instructors like DeMott. Bloom’s actually helping out the students rather than berate them constantly. I see this as good PR move but also good hiring for talent development. Bloom’s travelled around the world as an international wrestler. He comes with a wealth of knowledge of the professional wrestling industry. His gimmicks may not have been a hit with the fans compared to HHH, The Rock, and John Cana, but he was a hard worker.

The intangible is that he loved what he did and wants to further the business by grooming new talent. Can he be teach mic skills and encourage students to bring out the best in themselves? The WWE has been lacking in mic talent as currently there have only been a few like Bray Wyatt and John Cena. He may get on some students but that would be if had to. You need to show tough at times to get the point across and this a big difference compared to abuse by his predecessor. Will this formula work? Only time will tell.

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Do It Live! F–k It! Pro Wrestling Alternatives Pile On To RAW’s Woes

March 18, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Imagine if your annual Christmas parade was routed to circle the same two block radius for three hours, with each marcher shot to the gills on Xanax. Now imagine if the parade took place every week, and Santa only showed up six times a year.

Monday Night Raw is the only weekly wrestling program that airs live, and I’d say that the real-time aspect has become the only thing ‘live’ about it.

The March 16 episode was just another cut of the same old dreadful cloth. If it’s not JBL cantankerously grousing about some non-sensical point in his glossy-eyed stupor, it’s another video package railroad-spiking something we saw in hour one. The only real decent action came in the six-man tag of Intercontinental Title contenders, but we’ve been fed the same combinations of otherwise-aimless talents for the past number of weeks. That perpetual void is rendered dumber by R-Truth’s oblivious thief gimmick, which has the shelf-life of a carton of milk in a Cancun tool shed.

Making matters worse is that this is WrestleMania season, the stretch of calendar where WWE historically creates its most anticipation. Forget the complete apathy toward Roman Reigns in the main event, at least he shows up. An absent, Streak-stricken Undertaker has yet to be seen (and probably won’t be until the event itself). Brock Lesnar and Sting show up only on specific dates, relying on Paul Heyman and video packages respectively to usher their stories forward.

I think one of the biggest differences between Attitude-era WWE and the current product is that back then, it seemed as though everybody wanted to be there. Monday nights were the place to be, and Raw was the barometer of the business at its hottest. Nowadays, part-time contracts and wrestlers grimacing through uninspired characters (New Day, among many others) have turned Raw into something that’s more depressing than anything. It’s become a monument to the waste of obvious potential. It’s space occupied with sweat in order to justify $160M in annual rights fees. Don’t like the show? They’re telling you to blow ’em.

In the Attitude Era, it was necessary for Raw to go live, since WCW loved to toss out spoilers for shows so deep in the can that mold was evident. Live TV meant anything could happen. Actually, anything still *could* happen on live Raws, but the sterility is so overwhelming. Of the first ten Raws of the year, just three of them topped a 3.0 rating. There was a point in 1998 where if Nitro slipped to a 3.5, Eric Bischoff had to wear a dunce cap at Turner offices.

I’d argue what the point of Raw going live every week is, when it feels like nothing happens over the course of three mind-numbing hours. This question gets its legs from the fact that there are three better shows right now that tape their wrestling in compressed blocks of time.

One of them is in-house: NXT. As if the comparison between the December Takeover special and WWE’s TLC just days later wasn’t a wide-enough trek, the developmental group puts on shows that breeze by in the span of an hour. Not every impact player is on every week, something that plagues Raw, though it can be argued that the part-timers benefit from their infrequent visits. Regardless, how much less special are even Seth Rollins, Dolph Ziggler, and Dean Ambrose as compared to Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn? Especially since the latter three have yet to be corrupted by uninspired storytelling.

Because WWE seems so set in their ways in terms of their excruciating TV production beliefs, NXT is such a breath of fresh air, even aside from the indy-ringers they hired. Jason Albert and Corey Graves provide on-point announcing with not too much time wasted on tangents and obnoxious arguing. The women are given room to work, and some have very accessible characters, be it Charlotte the confident athlete or Bayley the gradually-self-empowering fangirl.

These are the winds that could possibly cleanse the dull Raws, though I will say that the March 16 episode featured thirty seconds of true excitement. Sadly for WWE, it was in the form of a Lucha Underground commercial.

If you’ve seen Lucha more than once, the noir-ish vibe of the vignettes and the dizzying action are probably what hooked you. Name-brand talents like those formerly known as John Morrison and Alberto Del Rio probably helped. Even announcers Matt Striker and Vampiro, over-the-top as they sometimes can be, are putting over the wrestling with a fanboyish enthusiasm. It beats putting over themselves. In other words, everybody feels like they want to be there.

Above all, Lucha Underground just feels *different*, much like NXT. If WWE Network didn’t have an on-demand function, I’d be torn which one to watch each week. The Wednesday Night Wars!

Speaking of wars, it’s been five years since TNA got trounced in the laughable sequel to the Monday Night Wars. Though 2014 looked like the company death march (and 2015 could still be, they’re far from turning a profit), Impact on Destination America has turned into inspired programming.

Recent stories with Bram trying to deconstruct old friend Magnus, The Beatdown Clan muscling others down, and Ethan Carter III’s unbridled run of self-inflation have far more bite than current WWE fare. In fact, Carter’s bloody, hate-filled match with Rockstar Spud that aired this past week is easily the best match either Impact or Raw has produced so far in 2015. I’m as surprised as you, but less so in hindsight as Carter has blossomed into arguably the best heel in the business right now. I’m sure all he misses about being Derrick Bateman is keeping company with Maxine.

NXT, Lucha Underground, and Impact are all taped in marathon sessions. Their results are readily available on any two-bit news site. There is nothing to be gained in watching these shows in terms of expecting news-breaking swerves that would rival Scott Hall kicking off a hostile takeover.

On the other hand, in each of their current forms, they’re wrestling shows. And appreciating each for both their simple and bold charms beats the hell out of the three hour weekly road to nowhere.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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WWE Has No Shame

March 17, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I have only been watching wrestling for the last 8 years or so (3 years fully) and honestly I was too young to remember what happened in the 90s, but even non-wrestling fans know that the WWE has done some pretty despicable thing over the years. Many people constantly complain about WWE (particularly Vince) not paying attention to fans, overlooking Superstars, etc., and they have a right too. Now WWE has the right to do whatever they want on the programming, what they don’t have the right to is putting an end to Indy Wrestling.

 Just recently WWE announced that their NXT brand will soon be doing live touring as its own brand, meaning there’s a new promotion in town, a promotion that can single handedly wipe out Indy Wrestling for good! To add insult to injury, WWE recently sent out a survey asking which wrestling promotion(s) people follow. My question is: do they really have no shame? I think that it’s kind of obvious that WWE’s next true goal is to be the only wrestling (sorry, sports-entertainment) company left standing. WWE gets pleasure from devouring their competitors to bits and pieces; Vince has had a desire for it ever since “the fall of WCW”. It’s a fact that shows how shameless WWE is; they’re kind of like that low-life that’s always in the alley.

Some of the promotions mentioned in the survey (ROH, Dragon Gate USA etc.) have sacrificed so much just to get to where they are now, and now there’s a chance that a “brand” that’s been around for 9 seasons (5 of which that sucked) will drive real Indy wrestling promotions straight into the ground. I will admit, I like NXT, I probably like it more than the next guy but it SHOULD NOT replace Indy Wrestling. Indy Wrestling is a lifestyle, being an Indy fan is a lifestyle.

NXT is not a lifestyle because you don’t support anything while watching it; the guys will get a massive paycheck even if you don’t watch. It’s definitely not the same. Guys risk their bodies just to be at the top and to make the ‘big leagues’. If WWE breaks apart Indy Wrestling then how would wrestlers get to develop their talent, sure they can do the Roman Reigns approach of having a wrestling family but that’s all they have. Tell me, where would so many (former) WWE Superstars be without the Indy circuit, your guess is just about as good as mine!

I write less and less articles now because it is so time consuming but I really had to get this topic out to everyone. WWE will absolutely stop at nothing to bring everything wrestling to its knees. WWE has already started to do it to WWE fans as I wrote in my last article “WWE Fans: The Most Uninformed People in Wrestling”, now Indy Wrestling is the last stop on the ride. That is why I am here writing this article. I want to get people informed that there are other options out there for you. You don’t have to stoop to WWE’s level, once they start touring and you are going to their shows, you are now fighting the battle with them.

They will crush wrestling for good and both you and I know it! The future now rests in our hands. We can decide if we go to their shows or not. It is about time we stand up and ‘fight the man, fight the power’, we have to stop this utterly disgusting act from happening. So I beg of you, don’t help kill Indy Wrestling as a whole; it is the last thing some of us fans have before we are stuck with this WWE bullshit. Indy wrestling cannot fight all of its own battle and win without our support. So for the sake of continuing the tradition of Indy Wrestling in the US, go out and support them. No matter how good NXT wrestling may seem, Indy Wrestling will always remain superior to so many people around the world! #SaveIndyWrestling.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Matt Bloom Replaces Bill DeMott as WWE NXT Head Trainer

March 10, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Less than a week after allegations went public, former WWE NXT Head Trainer Bill DeMott has tenured his resignation. The resignation continues to raise more questions and polarize the pro wrestling industry.

It didn’t take long for the shat to hit the fin. A couple of days after a post on Reddit.com accused the WWE of failing to thoroughly investigate Bill DeMott’s bullying and use of physical and mental abuse on trainees, the company and DeMott took action. DeMott resigned, while continuing to deny all charges as the pro wrestling industry continues to debate the situation from all sides of the spectrum.

The biggest piece of news that came out of the Reddit.com post is that allegations were made aware to the WWE and Human Resources. The company claimed to have exonerated DeMott after a full investigation. However, this “investigation” soon became embarrassing when one wrestler identified in the complaint to HR claimed that he was never contacted, thus making the investigation look suspect at best.

It didn’t take long for DeMott’s allies in the pro wrestling industry to come out and fully support the former trainer. Chris Jericho was the first to tweet about it, although Jericho later deleted his tweet. Jim Ross wrote about it in his blog, although he kind of danced around the issue and said a lot without really saying anything. Former WWE star Bob Holly criticized DeMott. Lance Storm defended DeMott on Wrestling Observer Live which is also very ironic since Storm was critical of JBL’s bullying when Storm was a trainer in OVW. In other words, everyone is all over the place on this one.

I don’t blame DeMott entirely on this mess. Triple H is not an idiot and most of these allegations have been public for years regarding DeMott. There is almost no way that Hunter has not heard about these allegations. As a matter of a fact, Dave Meltzer reported it was Hunter who instructed DeMott to go harder on the trainees as Trips felt they weren’t in good enough shape. At the end of the day if DeMott was only following orders from above, how culpable is he in this mess?

Unfortunately for DeMott I can’t imagine Triple H’s orders included physically assaulting trainees who are injured, making racist remarks, and making homophobic remarks. The business has changed. Personally, I have never been offended by a word or words but to each their own. Yet at the end of the day he is the head trainer in a publicly traded company. A company who actively markets their anti-bullying and anti-homophobic efforts and campaigns.

I think the bigger problem with DeMott is that he hasn’t produced anywhere close to the quality of new talent that were being produced on a regular basis in OVW. Sure you have the Shield but I am talking about guys who came into the developmental center with little to no training and turned into WWE superstars who draw money. Rusev looks good and the jury is still out on Reigns. Yet this isn’t the kind of production previous developmental coaches offered to the company. Ultimately that falls back on Triple H, who was a critic of OVW. Yet if you look back over the last few years there is nobody that has been developed successfully the way Jim Cornette and Danny Davis produced talent in OVW and that is just a fact.

I don’t think you necessarily have to be a top drawing star to train pro wrestlers. I look at every other sport and see dozens of Hall of Fame coaches and trainers that were average players in their sports. Heck, arguably the greatest NFL coach in history Bill Belichick never even played a down of football in the NFL. Lance Storm is universally regarded as one of the best trainers in the business yet as great as Lance was, I don’t think anyone would call him a big draw. That said, you have to wonder how not only DeMott has kept his job for so long without accountability, but why he was hired for this position in the first place.

The irony of all of this is that many WWE stars have mocked the Power Plant system WCW had for years. Yet if you compare notes, DeMott isn’t accused of doing anything that different from Buddy Lee Parker. Even more similar, the Power Plant ran off several guys that would later become WWE superstars including Batista. WWE creative has been compared to WCW often in recent weeks yet there is probably more that the WWE has in common with WCW these days than ever before and that is pretty scary.

Matt Bloom, the former Tensai has taken over DeMott’s position as head trainer. Bloom was trained by the legendary late Killer Kowalksi, the same trainer that Triple H had. Kowalski was never known for using the tactics that DeMott is accused of using, so I would expect a much different system under Bloom. Bloom was never a big draw but probably drew more money over his career than DeMott did and at least that is a start in the right direction.

The developmental system needed a change and it had everything to do with DeMott. I am excited to see what kind of results Bloom can produce over the next several months. A new head trainer is exactly what the company has needed. It’s just a shame it took a situation like this that got them to move in that direction.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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Ex-WWE NXT Star Claims Bill DeMott Bullied Developmental Talent

March 02, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Bill DeMott was trending on Twitter Monday night and it was for all of the wrong reasons. A former NXT wrestler has accused the WWE trainer of bullying talent via physical and mental abuse while critics are demanding answers.

This isn’t the first time this story has been told and if DeMott remains employed I am sure it won’t be the last. Judas Devlin is the latest former WWE wrestler to break his silence on DeMott. Devlin revealed a pattern of abuse which includes both physical and mental bullying in a recent interview on Vendetta Pro Radio 2K15. As part of the promotion for the interview, Devlin released a 2013 letter he wrote to WWE talent relations about DeMott which has now been posted on Reddit.com.

“I am composing this memo today because I have had a number of serious concerns about the actions and words of head coach Bill Demott during my employment as talent for WWE developmental. Many of these actions I have tried to ignore or hope that they would cease but because they have now put me in a dangerous situation not only for my career but for my personal health and safety I feel the need to speak out to someone of a higher authority. In this memo I will provide details on a series of incidents which underlie my concerns.

I would like to request that this remain in strict confidence as I am afraid that if Coach Demott were to know I spoke out he would find ways to punish me for it. In fact the entire process of writing a letter to human resources has been called a “faggots” way of dealing with problems by Coach Demott.

Physical Injury Due to Imprudent Coaching: The action that has led me to finally speak out happened Thursday February, 28th following our house show. I had taken an awkward hit to my knee in a match and was being examined by Brian Duncan. This hit aggravated a previous injury, one that should never have happened, that I had sustained during a practice drill orchestrated by Coach Demott after practice had already been completed. An MRI revealed a partial tear of my PCL and a strain on a ligament in the back of my knee. I have been told that I can work through it but it may aggravate here and there. This injury can be enduring as many of the superstars on the main roster wrestle their whole careers with it.

I should never have had any issues with this knee but on that particular practice day, after a 3 hour morning session had ‘ended’ at 11 AM, Demott put 280lbs Gary Jackson back in the ring at 11:30 and forced 8 of us to give him 10 takedowns each. After Gary had bumped 60 times in a matter of minutes, I entered the ring and was asked to give him 10 fireman takedowns. On the first one he collapsed from exhaustion while on my back, driving my knees into the mat where I sustained this injury.

The hit I took aggravated it and Coach Demott pulled trainer Brian Duncan and I into the training room and said without any knowledge of my actual injury, “This injury can’t keep flaring up. It doesn’t look good perception wise to us (the office) or for your career going forward.” This injury was treated after the match and I was cleared by Duncan at the time.

Based on Coach Demott’s statement I feel that I am in a position where I have to cover up any injuries I may have otherwise I will be punished or fired. The following week I was in severe discomfort but fearing repercussions I attempted to work through it. Coach Demott has not only instilled this fear in me but I have spoken to several other members of the roster who have been made to feel by Coach Demott that their current injuries are signs of weakness as men, and could potentially lead Coach Demott to advocate for their firing.

On two separate occasions Coach Demott forced me to perform dangerous moves without properly warming up. One incident followed my first evaluation where Canyon Ceman asked me to start working on my parkour and gymnastics moves. It was 7:30 am before practice and he saw me standing in the ring with Enzo Amore and said, “Do a takedown let go of him and do a back flip then go back to him.” The idea made no sense, I was not properly warmed up, and I nearly landed on my head on one attempt. Thesecond incident was before a live event he wanted Oliver Gray to test out his finisher on someone so he grabbed me and forced me to take a high bump on my neck without warming up. I had missed a week of practice because of a neck strain prior to this and Coach Demott was well aware of that.

I have also watched and participated in drills that were hazardous to our safety. He has made us do squats on the top rope including some students who had never been up that high in their careers. He made the beginners group perform monkey flips without a crash pad and the first six who participated landed on their heads and necks and were lucky not to have been seriously injured. The aforementioned drill in which Gary Jackson injured my knee also saw Memo Montenegro injury his neck and shoulder. He was on his 40th bump in 5 minutes and got dizzy before his 7th consecutive hip toss and landed on his head.

Unprofessional Work Environment: The issue of physical well-being is not my only concern. I am an educated individual who worked at Cal State Northridge with Professors and students. I know how one is suppose to conduct one’s self in a professional sense. I also understand that this is a unique business and the lines on proper behavior may be a bit blurred. Yet there is no question that Coach Demott, on a daily basis,not only makes unprofessional choices in words and actions, choices that go against many policies of this company, but choices that have created a culture of fear and negativity in this system. Showing up each day for training is mentally agonizing because of the comments we are all forced to hear. He routinely makes fun of anyone sitting out because of injury and also makes rude comments about people’s names and personal lives and has established a hostile work environment through verbal assaults. To wit:

• Demott constantly refers to Oliver Gray as Joel Pedophile which personally enrages me because I used to help a Psychology Professor in Los Angeles do lectures for sexually abused children. • When Dante Dash referred to his finishing move as the Davey boy, as it was utilized by the late Davey Smith who died tragically, Coach Demott makes the following comment, “The Davey Boy? What turning blue and dropping dead on the lawn?” • Coach Demott told student Enzo Amore that he hopes he dies. • Demott also told our entire morning class and Ricky Steamboat’s class to kill themselves just days after we tolled the ring bell 10 times for the late Mike Graham a former star FCW wrestler, who committed suicide. • Coach Demott routinely bullies Enzo verbally as well as physically. I have seen Enzo on several occasions be slapped in the face by Bill. During one practice he decided to show Enzo how doing a slam wrong could hurt someone, so he picked Enzo up and dropped him without warning directly on his head and neck. He then decided that each time a student slammed his 100lbs heavy bag with bad form that student had to slam one of his peers the same way. Demott found this drill amusing yet each student was put at serious injury risk. • Demott has grabbed an injured David Harwood by his neck pulled him to the office door and verbally chastised him for standing by the ring during practice when he wasn’t cleared, even though he was simply listening to a lecture by Ricky Steamboat. • Demott has kicked Memo Montenegro in the groin and laughed as he crumbled into a heap. Memo being a Mexican immigrant to the United States has a heavy accent, which Coach Demott constantly criticizes and makes fun of. • He routinely will attempt to bust students lip on the bottom rope when they stand to close to the ring. On several occasions he has punished students for mistakes in practice by making them bend forward putting their face near the ropes so that Coach Demott can bounce the rope off the bridge of their nose. • He routinely calls Gary Jackson a fat tub of goo, tells Osmund Cherry who is of African descent, to go back to Africa and most recently has made derogatory remarks about sexual preferences to Brandon Traven. • Coach Demott insinuated that Traven is gay and used the derogatory term “half a sissy” to make fun of him simply because he sat out practice and has had several injuries in the last couple months. This is not the first time he targeted Brandon either. In December I witnessed Coach Demott question Traven about a head injury in the trainer’s room. After Traven explained that a blow to the head in practice had made him dizzy Demott slapped him in the head and left the room. • I witnessed a similar incident a few months ago when Alexander Russev was recovering from neck surgery. Coach Demott saw Russev wearing a NY Jets shirt at practice and not liking that sports team proceeded to physically grab Russev by the collar and rip the shirt off him. Russev was not cleared for any contact at that point and clearly showed physical pain after the incident. Following this incident a group of students were discussing how this sort of thing happened before with an injured Briley Pierce. Briley had a broken leg and Coach Demott kicked him in his medical boot. This happened before I was under contract but it nonetheless seems to fit a pattern of negligent and abusive behavior that I have observed with Coach Demott and is worth investigating further. • According to Oliver Gray, he was once told that if he sat out practice to rest a very bad low back injury that CoachDemott would pull him from the NXT tapings and from attending the Royal Rumble, even though the trainer had requested that Oliver sit out just one practice.

I have been in this system under Coach Demott for 8 months now and was recently told that I am not improving at a rate that is acceptable. I have made concerted efforts in the past to practice more often and work on the parkour moves requested by Canyon Ceman. However Bill has routinely kicked me out of the building after practice including a day when WWE superstar Alex Riley asked me to work on some parkour moves with him. This along with his constant interrupting of practices just to put people down and make negative comments has all but killed any motivation I have to spend extra time around him.

It should be stated that I am not a vindictive person. I am open-minded and do not have a problem with off-color jokes or difficult practice drills. I was signed to this company after Steve Regal told me he saw tremendous improvement in my ring work between tryouts. I told Mr. Regal that I could only imagine how good I could become working 24/7 for this company. I have always been intrinsically motivated and will practice something until I perfect it. Yet I personally feel that coach Demott creates an environment that hinders my opportunities to improve. Coach Demott restricts our practices, instead opting for dangerous and unproductive drills, while constantly verbally assaulting our appearances, personalities, sexual preferences, injuries, and character it seems impossible for me to maximize my time in the ring. In fact even as recently as training on March 4th, guest trainer Lance Storm went out of his way to demonstrate moves to me that Coach Demott had kicked me out of the building for not doing correctly. When I asked him how to do them Coach Demott said, “That was shit Judas, get out of the building.”

Is this the type of work environment that the WWE desires? When can we set up a time to discuss this matter?

In closing I would be remiss if I did not clarify to you that this is solely a problem with Bill Demott and not a problem with the fine coaching staff that has been assembled around him. For example, Ricky Steamboat has been a terrific help to me and always provides me with positive reinforcement and quality examples to learn from. Terry Taylor has gone out of his way to pull me aside and give me helpful advice. Billy Gunn has been an amazingly refreshing force bringing knowledge and enthusiasm that has been extremely beneficial to the system. The changes that have recently occurred in the WWE have been excellent and I am excited for the future plans of WWE Developmental. It is because of these positive attributes that I am expressing my concerns to you. I want to be a part of a solution to the problems that I have listed, one that will lead to future success for the developmental system.”

Now to be fair this is only one side of the story. That said, this is just another in a long line of accusations that have been made towards DeMott by former talent. Kevin Matthews, Derek Foore, and Ryan Nemeth have all made similar accusations. Nemeth, who just happens to be the brother of Dolph Ziggler confirmed Devlin’s memo through a brief tweet.

Please share if you don’t want your heroes abused & mistreated.” – @HotYoungBriley

The irony here is that people are acting as if this is news to the WWE. DeMott has been a trainer with the WWE since 2012. One has to presume that Triple H knows full well of DeMott’s tendencies and abuse. I think it is also only fair to presume that Hunter endorses DeMott, otherwise he would have been gone a while ago. Hunter makes the calls in NXT and the fact that DeMott is still running the show speaks volumes about his support.

It will be interesting to see if the WWE finally caves to the pressure with the latest news. The WWE seem to be more sensitive to social media backlash in recent months than they have ever been. Plus, this does not look good for someone newly appointed to the Board of Directors. I would have to think that action must be taken, especially with all of the work that WWE does with anti-bullying and anti-homophobia groups.

Enough is enough. You want to be treated like a professional company and you want to have a developmental system on par with major sports leagues, than you need to get rid of this guy. DeMott and his bullying are a bad story waiting to happen. Imagine if someone sneaks a camera into one of these sessions and catches DeMott using slurs and bullying talent. That video would become a nightmare for the WWE and it would be best to mitigate that risk now before it winds up blowing up in their faces.

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WWE NXT is Better Than RAW and SmackDown

February 17, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The evolution NXT has experienced since doing live events on the WWE Network has been simply amazing. In my opinion, ‘NXT Arrival’ on February 27th, 2014 was the day NXT was officially put on the map. Wrestling fans were able to watch NXT on other streaming platforms prior to their debut on the network but they got a better opportunity to see what The Ascension, Paige, Adrian Neville, Bo Dallas, Sami Zayn and others were all about because of the promotion NXT was getting on WWE programing.

Prior to ‘NXT Arrival’, the likes of Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Rusev, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins all graced the NXT ring. Today, NXT is five live events in and they have talent like Baron Corbin, Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, Tyler Breeze, Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Kevin Owens bringing down the house.

Something started to change and it was impressive. After the Fatal 4-Way match between Neville, Zayne, Breeze and Tyson Kidd then the Zayn vs. Neville match at ‘R Evolution’ the thought really started creeping into my mind. After ‘Rival’ it solidified my opinion that day in and day out, NXT is a better product than RAW and SmackDown. After ‘NXT TakeOver: Rival’ was over I was so impressed I started to examine why NXT was so good. The reaction NXT received on social media was amazing so I clearly wasn’t alone. One of my buddies whose been a wrestling fan his entire life and someone whose opinion I respect texted me, “There are very few moments that make you feel, ‘that’s why I love wrestling’ and tonight was one of those nights.” It was clear; something special was definitely going on in NXT.

After some of the events over the last month, it’s pretty clear to me that NXT is as good as it is right now because of Triple H. He is the sole decision maker when it comes to booking and he’s nailing it. He has a reputation for burying guys and having a set image for what a superstar should be, but when he was on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s podcast, I was never more confident that he has what it takes to lead the WWE into the future. His vision, ideas and opinions have led to a snowball effect that’s making the entire NXT product the best to watch.

In response to a question on twitter, Tripe H said that he sees NXT “Standing on its own as a brand, but is not only a pipeline-but an alternative.” When I saw that I immediately took it to another level. NXT is now the “better alternative.” It’s obvious that NXT is not a minor league feeder system for the WWE anymore. Right now, today, NXT is a superior product and makes the WWE Network worth the $9.99 all by its self.

His desire for longer storylines and unscripted promos tells me that he gets it and makes me very excited for not only the future of NXT, but of RAW and SmackDown. He is a fan of the slow burn and that’s one of the biggest things lacking in the WWE today. Fans with short attention spans and the desire for instant gratification is really weakening the product. Yes, Daniel Bryan was an example of a slow burn but that was fan created. Bryan winning the WWE Championship at WrestleMania was not the plan. In NXT, the Zayn-Neville program is a prime example. It was a nice, long feud that was capped off with a great moment. As fans, we need to be patience because with main event feuds, the payoff is almost always worth it.

Another thing Triple H talked about with Stone Cold was scripted promos. He likes promos to be more natural and doesn’t believe everything needs to be scripted. Also, with Triple H in charge, the wrestlers have a choice. If a guy likes to be scripted that option will be there for them, but if they have the ability and want to be more impromptu, then they will have the option to ad-lib their promos. Nothing sounds better than a wrestler who can free style a promo. Everything is scripted in the WWE right now and it’s obvious and weakens the product.

Of course there cannot be a strong product without the performance of the wrestlers. There’s a great mix of up-and-comers and experienced indy guys in NXT right now. I honestly believe that if it were up to Vince McMahon, a lot of these guys would not be where they are today. Some of the best workers in NXT history are not typical WWE guys. Owens and Wyatt look out of shape. Neville, Itami and Balor are obviously too small. Bottom line, NXT provides these guys a platform to prove they belong and can be spectacular on the big stage. Also, the willingness to give wrestlers from “Ring of Honor,” “New Japan Pro Wrestling” and other organizations a chance is really changing the game.

Finally, the pacing of NXT is perfect. The weekly shows are an hour and their special events are two hours. On Stone Cold’s podcast Triple H also mentioned how he wished RAW went back to two hours. NXT does not waste time with pointless promos or recap fillers. There are times when RAW will go 20 minutes before any action takes place. Specifically on the special events, the show flows so nicely and is an easy product to watch and enjoy.

So, because of the decision of Triple H, NXT is a better and more enjoyable show than RAW or SmackDown. Everything he believes in is showing, and is creating a ripple effect throughout the organization. From the performers he hires, length of shows, freedom of the promos and the length of programs, NXT is in a great place to not only be an alternative to WWE, but maybe provide the fire of competition they have been lacking for so many years. I will continue to tune into RAW and SmackDown because I enjoy many of the workers, but just know NXT is my show of choice.

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NXT Woman Up: Let Sara Del Rey Have A Run

February 13, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

If you’re like me, your jaw was on the floor back in May, watching the tournament final between Charlotte and Natalya to determine the new NXT Women’s Champion. Your jaw went slack because you had no earthly idea that a women’s match under the WWE banner could be this good.

Hold onto your Trish Stratus/Lita battles; they were indeed good, but it’s my opinion that their matches fall considerably short to what Charlotte and Natalya did on May 29. I had no idea Charlotte could have such a performance in her. Unfairly, I had written her off as just another legacy act, like Wes Brisco or Dakota Darsow or whoever, hired by a company whose only ideas for pushing said act involves gushing about their father’s legendary credentials (this is known as The Tamina Snuka Principle).

With Charlotte and Natalya putting forth such a heated battle, as though winning the NXT Women’s gold meant more to them than anything on the planet, it’s impossible not to watch that match and be more than impressed.

It’s reign as the best women’s match in WWE history was dealt a crushing blow on Wednesday night, when Charlotte dropped the strap in a fatal-four-way to former partner Sasha Banks, the match also including the precocious Bayley and unretired Irish starlet Becky Lynch.

In the eyes of the most ardent know-it-all fan, the women’s four way occupied the same space as an enthralling can-you-top-this battle between the former Prince Devitt and PAC, and a delightfully-brutal main event that wrote a new chapter in the Kevin Steen/El Generico rivalry. That women’s four way rivaled, and in some cases exceeded, both of those matches in gut-instinct star ratings doled out by enthralled fans (I went ****1/4 for Finn Balor/Adrian Neville, **** for the four-way, and ****1/2 for Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn, but it’s damn close).

Charlotte’s in-ring acumen had a tough act to follow in Paige, whose masterful performances at such a young age buoyed a 300-day Women’s Title reign, a portfolio of work that led to her receiving a thunderous pop from the day-after-WrestleMania crowd when she’d arrived to occupy the ring with AJ Lee. By all accounts, Charlotte will be headed to the main roster soon, where she’ll likely trade harder on her father’s name, per the usual anemic creative oozing from between Vince McMahon’s ears.

New champion Banks looked to be a relatively one-note act palling around with Charlotte and Summer Rae at different points as “The BFFs” before ramping up into a conceited-bitch act, calling herself, “The Boss”. Any notions that Banks was more fluff than fire went out the window at NXT: R Evolution in December, following a thoroughly good performance with Charlotte for the title. The match was somewhat lost among Sami Zayn’s NXT Title win, Kevin Owens’ debut (and eventual beatdown of Zayn), and Finn Balor’s body-paint special, but those that watched Banks quite literally saw an evolution of her ring work. Her getting to pin Charlotte on Wednesday has more than enough merit – she can carry the division as a snotty heel for quite some time, with the lovable Bayley, current ally Lynch, and the spunky Carmella as prospective rivals.

I’d like to throw a name into the hat for another possible opponent.

If Charlotte’s getting the call-up, one woman who could certainly fill the void (you’ve already read the header of the article, so you can connect the dots) would be Sara Del Rey.

Yes, the same Sara Del Rey who currently puts these NXT women through master class after master class to sand the edges off their frames prior to their in-ring spectacles. For over two years, the real-life Sara Amato has fine-tuned all of the women you see performing at Full Sail University, doing more for women’s wrestling and the advancement of the gender in the sport at large off-camera than some of the trade-show models on Raw do on-camera.

I throw Del Rey’s name into the hat and I’m not alone; ask any fan that’s watched her perform in Ring of Honor or Shimmer or wherever. In the pantheon of Best Women’s Wrestlers of the Last Ten Years, it’s a crowded class. Names like Awesome Kong, Cheerleader Melissa, Gail Kim, Paige, and others will invariably make the list, but Del Rey occupies the same space. Anyone trained by Daniel Bryan and worth teaming with Chris Hero and Claudio “Cesaro” Castagnoli boasts one hell of a wrestling pedigree.

Yet, all she does for WWE is train others, and that’s a bit bittersweet for her fans. Del Rey doesn’t have the lithe model’s body or the high cheekbones that Kevin Dunn covets, but that’s not relevant in NXT. Last I checked, the new men’s champion is a bit blubbery with a cauliflower nose and little muscle definition. Doesn’t stop him from being bought as a human wrecking machine, does it?

NXT has become a top-flight independent with WWE production values (I’ve nicknamed it, “Ring of Hunter”). If the hefty Kevin Steen, undersized Kenta, and others can make it based solely on their outsize skills as performers, so can Sara Del Rey (who, I’ll add, is nowhere near a trainwreck in the looks department).

Del Rey vs. any of the women currently in NXT, plus the in-limbo Charlotte, or even a visiting Natalya or Paige, definitely get my attention. I’d just as soon watch Del Rey vs. Paige as I would the next chapter of Owens vs. Zayn, or another Balor/Neville epic.

NXT has done so much to revitalize the decaying embers of wrestling fandom, providing a spark of fun and energy days after Raw unimaginatively slogs to the three-hour finish line, that I believe it’s a strong possibility we’ll see Del Rey on camera sooner rather than later. It’s a career victory lap of sorts for a wrestler worthy of the spotlight.

If Raw is the death march into oblivion, NXT can boast the Death Rey as just another coup for wrestling’s greatest weekly show.

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