Shawn Michaels, NXT’s head booker, recently opened up on the present landscape and future of NXT at a press conference held to promote the forthcoming NXT No Mercy event in Bakersfield, California.
Michaels expressed his enthusiasm about launching the brand new NXT Europe in 2024, highlighting the significance of reaching out to an international audience. He mentioned his positive experiences working with United Kingdom-based talent in the now dispersed NXT UK brand, pointing out their seamless integration into NXT and contributions in various behind-the-scenes roles.
Shawn also commented on the current status of Gable Steveson in NXT, citing his intention of utilizing Gable despite the hindrance of his outside commitments. Michaels is keen on working through Gable’s schedule to avoid interfering with his personal goals while ensuring he benefits the brand as much as possible.
The surprising release of Mustafa Ali from WWE and its implications on the upcoming No Mercy event also made it to the discussion. The main roster and NXT, Michaels emphasized, operate separately and the sudden exit of Ali presented a unique challenge. Complimenting Ali’s creativity and talent, Michaels also acknowledged how his departure paved the way for Trick Williams to step up to the plate.
Michaels equally spoke on the recent signing of Jade Cargill with WWE, calling it “Huge.” He praised her striking presence and predicted her considerable success, expressing his desire for her to join NXT.
Acknowledging NXT’s recent growth in viewership numbers and ratings, Michaels admitted to not being a numbers-oriented person; yet emphasizing how leading WWE’s NXT brand has taught him the importance of such metrics. Interestingly, he revealed a directive from WWE’s Executive Chairman Vince McMahon, asking for NXT’s focus to cater to the 18-34 demographic.
Praise was also allocated to rising NXT stars Trick Williams and Tiffany Stratton, and discussions about NXT’s next media rights deal were hinted at, suggesting NXT could align well with a youthful network that appeals to its target demographic.
Michaels spoke of a potential future NXT television show or pay-per-view event in Latin America, a prospect he expressed enthusiasm for despite the challenges involved.
The topic of CM Punk’s potential return to WWE also popped up in the discussion. Michaels candidly expressed that he’d welcome Punk to NXT, albeit recognizing that the decision is with the higher-ups. He’d love the opportunity to work with Punk again due to their shared similarities and the star power that Punk brings.
Sources: Fightful.com, PWInsider.com