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Opinion

DeMarco: Top 5 Fears About WWE NXT 2.0 After WrestleMania Weekend

After WrestleMania season dies down, it’s time to look at WWE NXT 2.0, which could see changes. Are they ready? Greg DeMarco has some concerns.

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After WrestleMania season dies down, it’s time to look at WWE NXT 2.0, which could see changes in the coming months. Are they ready? Greg DeMarco has some concerns.

WWE NXT 2.0 was always going to be a big more fluid, but we could be embarking on a very fluid period for the paint splattered WWE developmental brand. And that has me worried.

Worried about what? Read on and see!

Are Fans Turning On Bron Breakker?

Bron Breakker opened up the first WWE NXT 2.0 after Stand & Deliver, and the fans were…not welcoming their hero. Quite the contrary, they were chanting “We Want Ziggler!” and Bron didn’t have the wherewithal (or the freedom?) to respond, he just had to pause, and stick to the script. On top of that, when Gunther came out, they didn’r react nearly as much. Now, Imperium changed their music, and the old music definitely got a reaction.

Hopefully this crowd was an anomaly, because the NXT crowds have tended to be positive for anyone not named MSK. All WrestleMania weekend we didn’t have the snarky crowd–it was mostly the WWE loyal mainstream fanbase.

Regardless, Bron didn’t get called up (I expect it in the fall), and he’s moving on to a feud with Joe Gacy. Can he keep the crowd behind him? Or is the NXT faithful treating him like Roman Reigns?

Where is Roderick Strong?

I know Roderick Strong is currently active in NXT UK, pushing a mini feud with Ilja Dragunov. But he’s been out of sight, out of mind in NXT 2.0, to the point where there is no mention of him when Diamond Mine is on screen. That is most concerning.

What if Roderick Strong returns to the states and gets called up to the main roster? Is he Drew Gulak? Akira Tozawa? Or is he Daniel Bryan? Well, his promo skills aren’t Daniel Bryan–he needs a mouthpiece. Is there one to give him? Can he get over?

I’m torn, and that’s rough as Roderick Strong has long been one of my favorites dating back to 2005 Ring Of Honor. But he might be on the brink of a main roster run, or closer than we think to a 90 day vacation that ends in Jacksonville and the Undisputed Elite.

Can The Call-Ups Be Successful?

It seems likely that several talents will be called up. We have Imperium–probably just Gunther and Marcel Barthel after this week’s NXT 2.0. You also have the likelihood that Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzales move to the main roster as well. Finally, what about an LA Knight, who is turning 40 later this year.

Imperium had a great chance for main roster success, but the loss of Fabian Aichner could be a bigger deal than we think. He was the workhorse of the group, and carried the promos as well. And will Imperium have the same intimidation on TV? Gunther is 6’4″, huge by independent and NXT standards. On the main roster? Sheamus is 6’3″, Baron Corbin is 6’8″. Gunther is a special talent, but will what makes him special work on Raw or Smackdown?

Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzales can easily see early success as a tag team on the main roster–a place with so few women’s tag teams. They would likely win the titles and fly under the radar for a bit, and could have a long reign. But then what? Same deal–they break up, and Raquel becomes the star.

What if they don’t win the titles at all? How did that go for Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackheart?

There is no guarantee that LA Knight will be called up to the main roster. But why not? The man is going to be 40 years old this year, and when he has a mic in his hand he makes everyone else in 2.0 appear amateur. He’s main roster ready, and has been for years. If he’s given the chance, he can easily get over and have a run before it’s too late. But is he even being called up? We will know soon enough.

What’s Going On With Fabian Aichner?

Fabian Aichner is an unsung hero of NXT 2.0. He’s been carrying Imperium both as the workhorse in the ring and when cutting promos. He’s 31 years old, so he does have some time. My biggest fear is what happens after he’s without Imperium. What’s his gimmick? Does he go back to randomly wearing a vest? Does he get to maintain the same stature and attitude he had while serving The Ring General?

He’s essentually a more charismatic Cesaro, and with the right push (and maybe a manager–but it’s not 100% necessary), he could be a big success. I would love to see him get a run with Bron Breakker and a run with the NXT Championship.

Will he? Once again…time will tell.

Are The New “Top Guys” Ready?

I could have listed Carmelo Hayes (with Trick Williams) among those getting called up, but I think we’ll see him back in a few weeks. He has top guy potential, and while I think he was turned heel too soon, I do think he’s ready.

Grayson Waller is in the perfect place in NXT. He has it all, just needs to be given time to be ready. The gimmick, the heavy–it all works. Just don’t rush it.

Toxic Attraction is money–another act not to mess with. I could see them getting drafted in October, and then I would worry. But this is Mandy Rose’s best work by far, and if kept together they can be a force on Raw or Smackdown.

Santos Escobar and Legado Del Fantasma are a strange case for me. I would have assumed they get moved up, but instead we seem to be headed to a showdown with Tony D’Angelo. Escobar is 37, so his clock has to be ticking as well. I have high hopes–we’ll see.


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Opinion

King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!

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I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.


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Opinion

DeMarco’s Things I Learned From WWE Smackdown On FOX (June 17, 2022)

Greg DeMarco presents what he learned watching WWE Smackdown On FOX for June 17, 2022, featuring Matt Riddle, Vince McMahon, Pat McAfee, and more!

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Greg DeMarco presents what he learned watching WWE Smackdown On FOX for June 17, 2022, featuring Matt Riddle, Vince McMahon, Pat McAfee, and more!

WWE presented Smackdown on Friday night, June 17, 2022, from “Moneyapolis” featuring the “big fight feel” main event between Roman Reigns and Matt Riddle, with The Tribal Chief’s Undisputed WWE Universal Championship on the line. We also continued down the road to Money In The Bank in Vegas.

RK-Bro Is Effectively Done

The video package and all of Matt Riddle’s tributes to Randy Orton are just a little bit too much. Riddle does “too much” very well–in fact, it’s his character. But the amount of tribute being played to Randy Orton seems to be a set-up for Orton’s eventual return (whenever that might be) OPPOSITE Riddle. Maybe it’s in the Royal Rumble, maybe after.

Regardless of how it happens (and much of that has to do with his surgery and rehabilitation process), I think we are closer than ever to a heel Randy Orton opposing the babyface Matt Riddle.

Madcap Moss Is Undeniably Over

“Madcap just might be a guy.” – Pat McAfee

Pat McAfee knows what he’s talking about on this one–Madcap is indeed a guy. Riddick Moss always had the tools, just had injury issues. Since making his return to competition as Baron “Happy” Corbin’s sidekick, all Moss has done is prove his worth to WWE. He’s got a good look. He can cut a good promo. He’s vastly a underrated in-ring storyteller. And above all else, he has “it.”

WWE is always looking to add to the main event rotation, but it seems harder to crack that right now. But Madcap Moss has what it takes to do just that.

Montez Ford Is Gonna Be A (Solo) Star

The Street Profits are a fantastic act, and are insanely over. But Montez is a guy–a guy who the company can build around. While I feel bad for Angelo Dawkins, I (along with so many others) see Ford being a solo star.

We’re Getting Baron Corbin vs. Pat McAfee At SummerSlam

It’s the perfect set-up:

  • Baron Corbin is highly regarded within the organization as one of the safest workers around, a point that has been made by Randy Orton himself.
  • Pat McAfee is a big-moment superstar, and SummerSlam is the moment for him.

And for the record, I love it. While I an a big time purveyor of “Baron Corbin Sucks,” I know what he can do in the ring. And him vs. Pat McAfee would have Nashville rocking–and that is what McAfee in the ring is all about.

Vince McMahon Is Literally A Man Of Steel

If you have listened to any of Bruce Prichard’s podcasts, you know Vince McMahon believes you “don’t sell.” Not in the ring, but whenever the world has turned against you in any way–including lawsuits and investigations–you don’t sell it. You hold your head high, and live above it all.

That’s exactly what the boss did when opening up WWE Smackdown On FOX. It’s entirely possible that the plan changed along the way, and we were going to get “Mr. McMahon” at some point–but what happened is trademark Vince. Not the character, but the man. And if we expected anything else, we haven’t been paying attention.

Matt Riddle Is Now A Made Man

Matt Riddle and Roman Reigns delivered a pay per view (or premium live event…pick your poison) quality main event on WWE Smackdown on FOX, on a night where the world was likely watching. Tonight was his moment, and even in a loss, he delivered.

With a singular world champion–and one who likely isn’t losing anytime soon–it’s hard to say when Riddle could become a world champ. But the stipulation added to tonight’s match (which wasn’t discussed enough on air) means that Matt Riddle now cannot challenge Roman Reigns again (that’s how the graphic showed it). That screams a Money In The Bank or Royal Rumble win to me.

It’s also highly possible that a Seth Rollins wins the Money In The Bank briefcase, and his cash in splits the titles back up, opening the door for Riddle come next spring.

Either way–one fact remains true: Matt Riddle is now a made man, and doing it on his own.


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