This week, Callum Wiggins, Andy Sahadeo and Charlie Gregory will be giving their opinions on a few of the news stories that happened over the past few days.
More elaboration on the events that prompted this being the topic for the week.
WIGGINS: No problems whatsoever with JBL leaving - while you can take the incidents with Mauro Ranallo with a grain of salt, old Bradshaw has enough of a reputation that he can be difficult to work with. And, to be frank, he wasn't really adding anything to the commentary on SmackDown Live anymore.
Corey Graves is an excellent replacement, at least in theory, especially with his strong rapport with both Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton developed in NXT. However, I'm still not thrilled with his appointment as it continues to blur the lines between Raw and SmackDown Live. It's supposed to be a brand warfare, not brand swapsies. Decisions like this continue to undermine and lessen the importance of having two brands - something that blighted the previous brand split all those years ago.
I like Nigel McGuinness so I'm happy about his promotion, admittedly to two shows I rarely if ever watch. It's a sign that WWE clearly have long-term plans with him, which is a good sign for my fellow countryman commentating on Raw or SmackDown Live in the future.
SAHADEO: I have no problems with JBL leaving at this point. Nothing against his commentating skills because I actually do believe he’s great on commentary. However, after the whole Mauro Ranallo incident, my opinion sort of sullied on him afterwards. You can also tell that towards the end of JBL’s tenure as commentator, he was kind of phoning it in. His commentary towards the end, while not bad, was not anything worth noting. He was burned out from WWE and rightfully so. That kind of hectic schedule for a legend who lives in Bermuda and has outside engagements of WWE needs to take a step back, so JBL leaving worked out for the best.
It also worked out great for Corey Graves, as he was already shining on the commentary booth for Monday Night Raw. Graves is very well-spoken, knowledgeable on wrestling and overall a very entertaining personality to have on commentary. A double dose of Graves on commentary every week sounds like a fantastic idea to me––and with Shinsuke Nakamura on the SmackDown Live roster now, we can finally hear Corey Graves call that finisher again… KIIIIIINNNNSHAAAASSAAAAAA!!!
Nigel McGuinness getting moved up to 205 Live and Main Event (albeit not the most popular programs) is still a great promotion. I truly find it a shame that McGuinness had to retire from the ring a few years back and I wasn’t even sure he would make it to the WWE, but like Corey Graves who also retired, McGuinness found his natural niche in the commentary booth. Refining his skills in NXT certainly provides another notch on Nigel’s belt. Well-deserved and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Nigel McGuinness.
GREGORY: For starters, JBL leaving doesn’t bother me too much. He’s been around for some time now and it’s understandable that it’s all getting too much for him and a bit too hectic. Like I said, he’s been around for a while so he’s entitled to leave if he’s had enough for now. It’ll give WWE the chance to freshen things up on commentary on SmackDown Live and I like Corey Graves and it’ll be good to see how he is with a new commentary team on a new show.
As for Nigel McGuinness, I’ve loved his commentary work so far, I think he’s been brilliant so I’m more than happy to see him move up and take on these new roles. When he commenatated during the UK Championship tournament for the first time on WWE, it was a breath of fresh air to have a new take on the action and I feel like he took to the role very well. Everyone has their own opinion on him and some might dislike him but I personally am glad to see him steadily moving up the commentary ranks. It’s just a shame it isn’t on a bigger show but 205 Live and Main Event is a start at least.
SAHADEO: It’s rather disappointing that those who sacrifice their bodies day in and day out for nearly 300+ days on the road can’t spend time with their loved ones during the biggest holiday season/spiritual celebration each year. Whether you’re religious or not, holding Raw on Christmas won’t necessarily do anyone any favors. Most fans will likely be spending quality family time while passively watching Raw in the background, or might not even tune in at all for that matter. New Year’s Day, on the other hand, is a little more acceptable in my eyes to hold an event because it isn’t really on Christmas level––at least in my eyes. However, New Year’s Day is also a day for celebration, in which people will be out drinking and partying––thus potentially leaving Raw again on the backburner for most fans.
I can’t speak for every fan, so it’s hard to go about generalizing this situation. On the other side of the coin, WWE Superstars know that getting into this profession that they are subject to this kind of treatment, which is why I haven’t seen any WWE Superstars complain on social media about the decision. It sucks, but business is business. WWE hasn’t held a Christmas Day event since the 1980s if I recall correctly, so really we have yet to see what comes out of this questionable decision in today’s world.
GREGORY: I think it’s a pretty bad move on WWE’s part. Not only is it a bad idea to have your workers and wrestlers having to go in and put on a show on two family holidays but it’s unlikely to draw in many viewers too.
These superstars put shows on for us fans all year. They put their bodies on the line and put in the hard work and effort all year and now they aren’t even allowed to spend some downtime with their families on one of the biggest holidays of the year in Christmas? I think it’s an extremely stupid move. Even New Year’s Day is time that should be spent with your friends and family and yet they’re being dragged into work again. I suppose most will say that it is part and parcel of the job and that it puts money on the table, it’s a job they love and they have to get on with it but it feels wrong to have them working on these days in my opinion.
Not only that but I doubt it’ll be worth it to have Raw broadcast on TV at Christmas. It’s highly likely that even the most hardcore fans of the show will be spending a lot of time with family throughout the day, so I’d expect viewing figures to drop massively. The same applies for New Year’s Day, when many won’t be too bothered about watching it live and will probably end up catching up with the show later on in the week or the week later. With hardly any fans likely to watch and the superstars being dragged away from their family, I ask - what’s the point?
WIGGINS: I don't care if it's sacrilegious - it's just plain stupid. While it is pretty obvious this is at the behest of the USA Network, what can they hope to gain from this measure. Much less people are going to watch live because it's Christmas and New Year's, the shows are going to be terrible because every holiday special WWE produces always is, and it is going to infuriate the performers that have to spend the holidays away from their families and loved ones to film a backstage segment with Santa Claus.
At the end of the day, this has only exposed WWE to more unwelcome publicity, and I hope the backlash to this pea-brained decision will cause them to rethink their strategy. If they want something for the holidays, why not do a 'Best of Raw' special like they've done in the past with the best matches of 2017? Saves them money, effort and allows the superstars, writers and ring crew to spend Christmas Day with their families.
GREGORY: It’s hard to choose a single woman who deserves to hold the belt when there are that many on the roster who are deserving of the chance to be the champion.
It’s unfortunate that Asuka has got injured but it’s a blessing in disguise I think. Asuka hasn’t lost her winning streak but she has lost the belt, meaning she can step up to the main roster without a loss to her name - something that can be used to her advantage when she does inevitably join Raw or SmackDown.
As for who now holds the belt, like I mentioned, it’s so hard to choose just one. Ember Moon has been challenging for the title for some time now and is more than deserving of her chance to hold the gold. She’s put on some great matches against the former champion and against others on the roster and I think having her as the top woman on the show would be very refreshing. At the same time, Peyton Royce is another who would no doubt be superb with the belt around her waist. Ruby Riot or Billie Kay are two other interesting options for the belt. We know that all of these women can put on incredible matches, so they’d all work well as Asuka’s successor.
As for the winner of the Mae Young Classic being handed the belt, I’ll admit that while it would add more intrigue to the tournament and make it mean even more to the winner, I don’t think it’s the right way to go. There are so many talented women on the roster already on NXT that it would be a massive shame to overlook them and hand the belt to the winner of the Classic. Instead, I’d look at the women already in NXT and pick and choose one of the many other options available. With the sheer amount of talent already there, you can’t really go wrong by handing it to one of the many options already available on NXT.
WIGGINS: While it would add to the excitement of the Mae Young Classic to have the winner named the new champion, that's not how I would determine Asuka's successor. Although another women's tournament could be overkill, I say with these stakes it would be a good way to establish a worthy winner and build up a line of challengers for the future.
There is a lot of talent in NXT right now - Ember Moon, Ruby Riot, Nikki Cross, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Sarah Logan, Sonya Deville. You can add Kairi Sane, Shayna Baszler and plenty of others in the Mae Young Classic into that mix too.
If it were up to me, I'd choose Peyton Royce to become the next NXT Women's Champion. It would be a change of pace from Asuka's run as champion - a more conniving heel that takes shortcuts and benefits from interference from Billie Kay to hold onto the title. She is also growing leaps and bounds between the ropes and could put on some stellar matches with Ember Moon, Ruby Riot and Kairi Sane before dropping it to one of them further down the road.
SAHADEO: With rumors swirling about the Mae Young Classic winner being crowned the new NXT Women’s Champion, I certainly feel that that would be a slap in the face to the NXT women’s locker room. There are women like Peyton Royce, Billie Kay and Ember Moon who have all proved to the NXT Universe that they belong and should be NXT Women’s Champion.
While Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane are very credible candidates for the NXT Women’s Champion, it just is not their time yet. Yes, they are very established, but to the NXT Universe, they have yet to make their mark. I think the winner of the Mae Young Classic should be awarded with the position of number one contender to the NXT Women’s Championship, however.
In regards to crowning a new NXT Women’s Champion, another woman’s tournament may be overkill. Perhaps a battle royal to determine the new champion should take place. As I said before, women like Peyton Royce, Billie Kay and Ember Moon all deserve the title. I think Billie Kay should be the one to win that battle royal shall it take place, as I feel that she’s sort of been playing second fiddle to Peyton Royce in the Iconic Duo. Tease a split with them, have Kay defend against Moon and have Royce cost Kay the match, leading to Moon’s first NXT Women’s Championship. That way, we can get an Iconic Duo feud and a dream match between Ember Moon and (hopefully) Kairi Sane, granted she gets a shot at the title for winning the tournament.