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Jessamyn Duke Makes NXT Live Event Debut

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A professional wrestling prophecy was fulfilled during the NXT live event in Largo, Florida as Jessamyn Duke made her NXT event debut alongside her Four Horsewomen comrades Shayna Baszler and Marina Shafir.

The trio defeated the team of current NXT Women’s Champion Kairi Sane and 2018 Mae Young Classic competitors Io Shirai and Deonna Purrazzo.

It was a good showing Duke’s debut and is the beginning of what could be an impressive run for her. It is also the first step toward the three Horsewomen reuniting with Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey on the main roster.

It has been almost five years since the four first appeared together on “The Ultimate Fighter 18: Team Rousey vs. Team Tate” where Rousey coached Bazler and Duke, and Shafir was an assistant coach. Their time on the show together grew into a friendship that would lead into a mutual love of pro wrestling and life changing experiences. The four started calling themselves the Four Horsewomen as an homage to the famous stable – and even started flashing the four fingers sign like their namesake.

This drew mixed reactions from people, mostly critics would call them out saying “They aren’t the real Horsemen.” 

Each member of the Four Horsewomen found a different path to professional wrestling with Baszler competing on the indies and in Japan, and in the 2017 Mae Young Classic where she lost to Sane in the finals. Rousey signed with WWE in 2018 after months of speculation, making her on-screen debut in the Royal Rumble and competing at Wrestlemania 34.

Duke and Shafir signed with WWE back in May and were signed to NXT. Some speculate they will be called up to the main roster with Baszler to reunite with Rousey and kickoff the Four Horsewomen vs. Four Horsewomen feud. While fans are chomping at the bit to see this storyline come to life, they shouldn’t be disappointed if Duke and Shafir stay on NXT for some time.

Both Duke and Shafir are relatively rookies when it comes to professional wrestling. While their lack of experience does not mean they don’t belong in a WWE ring, their time in NXT will help them develop their in-ring abilities, promo skills and persona to prepare them for a main roster run. Being in NXT allows Duke and Shafir an opportunity to learn from some of the best trainers, as well as practice and refine their abilities – all while working in a production system similar to WWE’s main roster.

If they jumped straight to the main roster, they are going to have to grow their skills really fast without that coaching, and in front of a WWE crowd that will eat a performer alive if they feel that person isn’t ready for a main roster run.

An issue with Duke and Shafir being called up to the main roster with little experience, is there’s a chance they could be lost in the shuffle after several months on Raw or Smackdown. They will gain experience and have good matches with the Four Horsewomen storyline, which could last for several months. Where do they go after the angle is done? Do they stay in Rousey’s shadow, or does WWE creative go with the classic break up angle. 

WWE has talent on both Raw and Smackdown women’s divisions, but the company’s creative department does not have a great track record when it comes to creating  qualitystorylines for wrestlers outside of the competitors in the championship picture.

The Horsewomen will have to face those challenges when they are eventually called up to main, but their time in NXT will have better prepared to adapt to that environment.

If there is a time on the main roster where creative separates the Horsewomen on seperate brands, Duke – who had established herself on NXT – can welcome that challenge and make the most of the opportunity.

Another benefit of training in NXT is Duke and Shafir will have a chance to wrestle some of the best competition from the world. Athletes like Shirai, Sane and Purrazzo are regarded as some of the best in their field, and Duke and Shafir could gain good experience from being in the ring with them.

With WWE establishing the NXT UK brand, Duke and Shafir have some new potential opponents across the pond like Toni Storm, Jinny and Isla Dawn.

NXT is not a dead end for any wrestler, let alone inexperienced talent like Duke and Shafir. It is a place where they can gain a wealth of knowledge and experience that will benefit their professional wrestling journey.

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Tommaso Ciampa Undergoes Successful Surgery

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NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa has undergone successful neck surgery this past Thursday in Birmingham, Alabama, according to WWE.

Ciampa is expected to miss 3-6 months as he recovers from the surgery.

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Ricochet to be Featured on RAW and SmackDown for Time Being

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NXT superstar Ricochet made his surprising main roster debut last week during RAW and his debut on SmackDown the following night, and at least until after WrestleMania 35, he will be featured on both shows.

“I will be on RAW and SmackDown going forward,” Ricochet said, according to WPSD Local 6. “At least until after ‘Mania. After ‘Mania it’s gonna be one or the other, I’m assuming, I don’t know. But, that’s what I’m assuming. But yes, going forward, I am now an official member of RAW and/or SmackDown.”

In celebration of his ascension to the main roster, over 60 of his friends and family held a surprise party to commemorate the milestone.

“This [surprise party] was beyond amazing, It was awesome, Ricochet recalled.

“I got to see family, friends, people I haven’t seen in a long time. I was honestly surprised when I walked in, this was great. It just makes you happy to see that many people care. Whether it is close friends you have known since you were three years old, or people maybe you have never met, it is just cool that you can inspire so many people. Doesn’t matter where you are from, you can live your dream.”

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WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? February 18, 2019

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The Good

For Raw, they opened the show by saying that a bunch of NXT superstars will make their debuts on the show. This list included Johnny Gargano, Aleister Black, Tomasso Ciampa, and Ricochet. While Gargano, Ciampa, and Ricochet all made their debuts through tag matches, Aleister Black got his singles debut against Elias. It was a solid match which Black won, and helped establish him as a threat for the future.

For Smackdown, we got to see Ricochet’s singles debut and it was great. He defeated Eric Young in a few minutes. His athleticism and high flying ability is entertaining to watch from start to beginning. Hopefully, he makes his way up to the top quickly because he is one the best things going forward for WWE.

The Bad

For Raw, the segment between Lacey Evans and Heavy Machinery felt like a waste of time. During an interview with Heavy Machinery, Evans came out, walked up and down the entrance aisle, then made Heavy Machinery do it. They did so and then the segment ended. This literally felt like WWE just threw that in there to kill time for their show.

For Smackdown, while we finally got to see Asuka on Smackdown since the Royal Rumble, we still have yet to see R-Truth for the past few weeks. It really feels like WWE just flat out doesn’t care about the United States Championship at all.

The Final Verdict

With Elimination Chamber done and Fastlane the next PPV up, WWE needed to ramp the focus to that. With the sudden announcement of NXT superstars making their debuts this week, there was some confusion within WWE’s storytelling. For example, Bobby Lashley for some reason helped out Baron Corbin in his match against Braun Strowman at Elimination Chamber. But, when it came to Corbin’s tables match against Strowman to start Raw, he was nowhere to be found. With that said, I will have to say that Smackdown had the better show this week too. We got build up for Fastlane main event as well as other matches on that PPV. While Raw, still is trying to figure out what to do for that show.

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