Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to another action-packed edition of your Friday News Update. I'm your humble correspondent, Bill Quackenbush. Plenty of news and notes from the grist mill heading into the wrestling weekend, and we'll kick it off with some discussion about the WWE's feeder farm system, NXT. Word came from Titan Tower that the developmental promotion will be featured in another Network special, called NXT Takeover, on Thursday, May 29th at 8 PM. This news comes on the heels and rave reviews of the first NXT special, Arrival, which featured Adrian Neville winning the championship.
Shall we cue Triple H's cards? "As NXT continues to grow in popularity and our fans demand to see more of the next generation of WWE superstars, we are going to deliver live, in-ring programs featuring up-and-coming talent on WWE Network. Our live NXT specials on WWE Network bring out the very best in our performers and make for must-see TV for the WWE Universe." Trips spat some Deer Park and continued, "Plus it's a great opportunity for me to see who gets the best crowd reactions so I can pin them with one arm tied behind my back." Okay, I might have made up that last part.
As to what matches you can expect to see should you make it a point to tune in, there is some information out there thanks to announcements made during the next round of tapings at Full Sail University (AKA the "Other" FSU). The aforementioned Neville will defend his title against rarely-seen (at least outside of Total Divas, yeesh!) Tyson Kidd in what should be an excellent aerial battle, while Tyson's paramour Natalya will wage war against Charlotte for the vacated NXT Divas title. (More on that, naturally, in a moment.) For those unaware of Charlotte, there are two awesome things about her: 1) She is the daughter of Hall of Famer and wrestling deity Ric Flair, and 2) Her moveset includes Charlotte's Web, described as a "split-legged evasion into a bridging inverted schoolgirl." That any maneuver can call to mind both E.B. White and inappropriate thoughts is the stuff of legend.
Also scheduled for the event will be a number one contenders match between fan favorite Sami Zayn and Tyler Breeze, who's kicked around the WWE farm system for quite some time while going through more name changes than John Mellencamp. All in all, more NXT is a major benefit of the WWE getting its own digital channel, so it's something to look forward to for any wrestling fan. (Torch)
Prior to that, the best "new batch" of the wrestling world was this:
Speaking of NXT, AJ Lee's "vacation" has allowed standout Paige her much-deserved opportunity to get some recognition as Divas champion. Due to that title win, NXT GM JBL (lots of initials going on there, apologies) stripped Paige of her NXT Divas belt because she was not allowed to hold both at one time. Paige demurred at first but eventually acceded to the Hawk's demands, because she's cool like that and paid well to do so. The segment in question aired last night on the Network and was likely produced at Monday's Raw and inserted into the program.
It would seem that with Paige and Emma being promoted to regulars on the main roster, the door is opening for some other female talents to get a lengthier look on the secondary stage. In a division that boasts Charlotte, Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Shaul Guerrero (wrestling as Raquel Diaz), there is most certainly a bright future in this area. With the main Divas division floundering a bit of late, this strikes FNU as a good thing indeed. (INC)
If you were looking for a different type of stripping, fear not:
No, that was not the inspiration for Paul Burchill. If you've been wondering about the whereabouts of Rey Mysterio, he is once again reportedly out dealing with an injury. Initial reports apparently had the injury as being related to his knee, but it's now been disclosed that it's actually a swollen hand. His return date is not known at this point, but by all accounts should be in the relatively near future.
Mysterio's history (particularly recent) has had an unfortunate spate of injuries that would make even Christian look healthy. It was somewhat of a surprise to see him cleared to participate in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania XXX, and his match with Bad News Barrett on the following night's Raw was a bit of a surprise as well. Mysterio's contract is up relatively soon, but it is expected that the WWE will be signing him once more. Despite his trials and tribulations, Mysterio is a popular and bankable performer and most certainly moves merchandise. With the failed Sin Cara experiment and Alberto Del Rio's much-maligned face run, I'd imagine Rey Rey will be cashing WWE checks for some time to come. Even if one arm is in a sling. (Rajah)
Of course, if you're encountering injury issues, there's an easy solution:
Since FNU has Flairs on the brain already, it seems only fair to Flair that we mention Papa Ric's vaunted return this Monday on Raw emanating from St. Louis. According to reports, Flair will indeed be in residence and appearing on television in some sort of role. Flair has actually been pretty visible since his latest return to World Wrestling Entertainment, as he's been featured in multiple pre- and post-game panels for events on the Network, but it hasn't translated to much of an active on-camera role. Smart money would say he's being booked in some kind of angle related to the reformation of Evolution (of which he was a charter member) and their ongoing confrontation with the newly faced Shield.
Interestingly enough, the recent plans of the WWE were not to involve Flair in the angle with Evolution. This unexplained omission has caused many fans to question the motive, so much so that Jim Ross addressed the matter recently on his website. As with many things wrestling-wise, I concur with JR's point: This doesn't have the makings of a long-term storyline and Flair's participation would be rather restricted given his physical limitations. That said, the "reality era" has shown us that names which resonate with the fans are very much in demand and Flair always brings it on the microphone. I have no idea what will occur, but it's a safe bet that it will be entertaining. (INC)
Maybe not THIS entertaining, but you can't have everything:
Flair's long-term rival Hulk Hogan is also in the news, as he has been announced as an addition to the WWE's upcoming tour of Japan in July. He will be appearing Thursday 7/10 and Friday 7/11 in Tokyo and Saturday the 12th in Osaka. When asked for a comment, FNU faithful will likely not be gobsmacked by HH's response:
"I have only one question for the WWE Universe in Japan: Whatcha gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild in Tokyo and Osaka, brother?" (Torch)
And the answer:
Lastly, rumors continue to abound regarding the ending to The Undertaker's mythical streak at WrestleMania. The latest reported information states that it was definitively head honcho and promotional guru Vince McMahon himself who made the call to have Brock Lesnar pin the Deadman, but that Taker's willingness to go along with the plan had a lot to do with why it happened that way. There are conflicting reports on how quickly Undertaker accepted the outcome, but the same reports indicate that the Lesnar victory was not the original way the match was intended to end. Vince supposedly reversed his plan upon seeing Taker's physical condition and sensing this could indeed be his final match.
Regardless of whether the definitive truth ever comes out (and, should it, expect it to be far less enthralling than the speculation), it's evident this match has displaced the Montreal Screwjob as the bout most fans have burning questions about. FNU would be remiss to imagine that we've heard the last of this story. (Rajah)
That clears the news desk for this weekend, folks. As always, I'd like to thank you for taking time to read the dirt of the day. Feel free to take part in the conversation roiling in the depths below, or fire off Warehouse 13 fan fiction and Andy Rooney impersonations to me @DharmanRockwell or via email at email@example.com. Have a great weekend and I'll see you Tuesday!