Former Impact Wrestling star Rockstar Spud had one heck of a birthday present – debuting on WWE 205 Live as new General Manager Drake Maverick.
Spud, born James Michael Curtin on Jan. 30, 1983, was introduced to the WWE Universe by Smackdown Live GM Daniel Bryan as Drake Maverick, much to the chagrin of the live crowd.
During his introduction, Maverick said it has taken him his entire life to stand in front of the WWE Universe. Its been known for awhile that Maverick was going to make his WWE debut. This weekend he posted photos insinuating he was in Philadelphia during Royal Rumble weekend.
In his first order of business as 205 Live GM, Maverick announced a 16-man tournament for the vacant WWE Cruiserweight Championship with the finals taking place at Wrestlemania 34. The WWE Cruiserweight Championship was vacated by Enzo Amore, who was fired from the company following allegations that he raped a woman in October 2017. The case is still under investigation.
The first two matches of the tournament were held on the Jan. 30 episode of 205 Live. Former Cruiserweight champion and Cruiserweight Classic tournament winner defeated former WWE U.K. Champion Tyler Bate in a first-round match.
The Road to #WrestleMania is taking a little detour to MUSTACHE MOUNTAIN as @Tyler_Bate takes it to @megatjp in the first round of the @WWE #Cruiserweight Championship tournament! #205Live pic.twitter.com/IXYFCMuDBQ
— WWE (@WWE) January 31, 2018
Later the evening, former title contender Cedric Alexander defeated Cruiserweight Classic finalist Gran Metalik.
Other confirmed participants in the tournament so far include Hideo Itami and NXT star Roderick Strong, who will face off next week. Former Cruiserweight Champion Kalisto will face Lince Dorado in a tournament match as well.
— WWE (@WWE) January 31, 2018
This was a big night for 205 Live in a few ways.
First, it is the introduction of Maverick as an on-screen authority figure. Fans arent too keen on the name change, though it has been awhile since WWE has changed a wrestlers name. This could be a new beginning for Maverick. Although he has made his name as Rockstar Spud, this is an opportunity for him to do something different.
No matter what name he has, Maverick can play a good heel authority figure – if thats the direction he and WWE are going with this character.
As for the Cruiserweight title tournament, this is an opportunity to hit the reset button with the title. Since WWE brought the Cruiserweight Championship back after the CWC tournament, there hasnt really been a wrestler who has elevated it, other than Neville when he was King of the Cruiserweights.
— Hideo Itami / 伊丹英雄 (@HideoItami) January 31, 2018
It is also a good idea for WWE to match established 205 Live competitors like TJP and Gran Metalik with NXT and UK stars like Strong and Bate. There is a sense of surprise and anticipation to see who will compete in the tournament in the coming weeks. It also gives the Cruiserweights an important match at Wrestlemania that is more than just a pre show bout.
This also gives WWE a chance to give NXT and UK talent a taste of the main roster. An appearance for Strong and Bate could lead to a smooth transition to one of the three main roster brands.
It looks like WWE has a plan for the Cruiserweights up until Wrestlemania. Perhaps creative could find something similar for Raw or Smackdown – have tournaments to determine No. 1 contenders for world and tag team titles.
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? April 16, 2019
For Raw, they got the best addition from the shakeup to their show, which was AJ Styles. After Styles really made his mark on Smackdown, it seemed like WWE creative was running out of ideas of what to do with Styles on Smackdown. So, having him on Raw is really intriguing now and it should be interesting to see what the future holds for him on Raw.
For Smackdown, their biggest addition from the shakeup was Roman Reigns and the way they introduced him to the show was entertaining. After Vince McMahon announced that the “biggest addition in Smackdown history” was Elias, Roman Reigns interrupted and ended up clearing out the ring and declaring that Smackdown is his yard now. Reigns needed a change of scenery after being on Raw for few years, so this is something the WWE universe should be excited for.
For Raw, while it was great to see an NXT tag team called up, the name they gave him is horrible. Formerly known as the War Raiders, who are the current NXT tag team champions were called up to Monday nights. But, they decided to change their name to the Viking Experience, which is one of the worst name changes in WWE history.
For Smackdown, they had a match between Carmella and Charlotte Flair and this felt like filler. After all the new names that they brought onto Smackdown during the shakeup for the women’s division, they could have had one of them in this match instead of putting them all together in the 8-women tag match that was featured on the show later.
The Final Verdict
For these being the superstar shakeup episodes, both shows felt a little underwhelming. While we are able to think of the possibility of matchups that we will see in the future because of this shakeup, the introduction of these new names felt like they should have been a bigger deal. Along with that, it seemed like WWE either was confused on how to handle some of these shakeups or they purposely wanted to confuse the fans. A prime example is how Finn Balor went to Smackdown with the Intercontinental championship. Since this was introduced to us on Smackdown, is there no secondary belt now on Raw? Or did Samoa Joe just automatically move to Raw because he currently was holding the original secondary belt on Smackdown? Overall, as to who had the better show, I will have to say that Raw had the better show. The additions of the Miz, the Usos, Rey Mysterio, Andrade, AJ Styles, and Naomi are all new faces that were due for this. In conclusion, while the shakeup could’ve been handled better, the future should be intriguing as WWE prepares to fully move on from Wrestlemania.
Matt Hardy Responds to John Oliver’s WWE Segment
John Oliver, host of HBO’s popular ‘Last Week Tonight’, took WWE to task in a recent episode over their lack of healthcare for their performers, bringing a dark element of the treatment of WWE superstars to light.
Since then, wrestlers have spoken out, both in support of Oliver’s segment and coming to the defense of WWE.
One of those coming to WWE’s defense is WWE superstar and future Hall of Famer Matt Hardy, who praised WWE and how far they have come over the years.
“When I first started here [1997/1998] the locker room, everything was like the wild wild west then” Hardy said in an interview with FOX Sports (h/t Wrestling Inc). ” The change that has happened in those 20-plus years has been unreal. I mean, now the drug testing is very stringent. … You have to be here, and you have to be good and you have to be on top of your game. You have to be a professional. The physicals they do as far as cardiovascular and just checking you over and over — [there have] been several guys they caught that have had serious [health] issues that could have been life threatening if they didn’t catch it here, and just the way they take care of you. “
“Every surgery I ever had, WWE has paid for. They’re very faithful and very good about that. It’s just some of the stuff that the John talked about was kind of passé, kind of outdated because now they really do [take care of wrestlers’ health]. They take care of everything especially stuff that happens in house. As far as the whole health insurance thing, that’s kind of a different argument, because we do a different gig in many many ways. But WWE has never done anything but be great to me.
“They’ve taking care of me in every capacity, every front. And they’ve given me a great life. I mean one of the characters I play is ‘Big Money’ Matt, who’s like this millionaire that’s been around for a long time, and you know there’s a lot of truth to it in some ways, and I wouldn’t have that persona and I wouldn’t have the great life that I have right now if it wasn’t for WWE.”
WWE Hall of Famer Stevie Ray Talks Not Joining WWE After WCW Buyout
WWE Hall of Famer Stevie Ray, who was inducted as part of Harlem Heat, alongside his brother Booker 2, in this year’s WWE Hall of Fame, recently discussed why he never joined WWE following his career in WCW.
Stevie Ray recently appeared on an episdoe of ‘Conversations with the Big Guy’ with host, and former WWE superstar, Ryback and talked about his thinking when WWE bought WCW.
Although his brother Booker T went on to WWE, Stevie Ray didn’t want to do the same.
“I didn’t want to go to WWF (WWE). As a matter of fact, the last WCW Nitro, I didn’t even attend and they sent me a ticket. Bu,t I was always in the mindset of this is competition to me. This is NFL vs AFL, or National League versus American League in baseball. WCW vs WWF, to be honest with you, bro, I didn’t want to go out like a bitch.”
The Monday Night Wars were hard to get past for Stevie Ray.
“We had been fighting for the team (WCW). But when I heard Vince McMahon had come in, and stuff like that, which I knew was coming, it’s like, you saw the writing on the wall and you put it in the back of your mind.
But at the end of the day I knew it was going to happen. But I didn’t attend the last show because my brother [Booker T] said that they (WWE) are going to be auditioning people. I told him that he should do it, but I’m done.”
Stevie Ray was concerned that WWE would change to Harlem Heat, stripping them of the elements that made that tag team so special.
“I wanted people to remember Harlem Heat as an ass-kicking tag team of color, you see what I’m saying? I didn’t want us to be something else. I didn’t want us to turn into a “Doink the Clown”. So, I’m not saying that they would have done this with Harlem Heat, but, I didn’t want to lose the edge that we once had as Harlem Heat.”
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