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? January 7, 2019
For Raw, the main event between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental championship was a great match and a good way to end this rivalry and move forward with both competitors. Ambrose ended up winning after Bobby Lashley interfered and attacked Rollins. This made sense as the show opened with Rollins and Lashley brawling and these two have been at each other for the past few weeks. What’s really good to take out of this is now Rollins can focus on the Royal Rumble and Ambrose can focus on who is next contender is for his championship.
For Smackdown, the push for Shane McMahon and The Miz to go for the tag team championship was an entertaining way to help build this match up at the Royal Rumble. After Shane expressed aggressiveness and prove worthiness to earn a championship match, the Miz tried to impress him by going out there and challenging the Bar to that match by himself. The challenge was accepted and even though that isn’t what Shane meant, they are getting the match that wanted when they first formed.
For Raw, the Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar “face to face” segment fell flat. Strowman struggled on his delivery of insults to Lesnar, and the “face to face” was more of just Lesnar walking around the ring over and over again without getting in Strowman’s face. At this point, anybody but Brock Lesnar needs to hold the Universal championship in order to give it a more important feel.
For Smackdown, there was nothing they had that was really too bad. Smackdown was able to give proper time for all the rivalries they are building up.
The Final Verdict
Smackdown has been hitting on all the right cylinders with their shows for a while now. Once they establish a championship match for the PPV, they give proper buildup and interesting scenarios for each one. Along with that, when Smackdown wants to build up a rivalry just for their show, they are able to do that effectively as well. While Raw does try to do the same, there segments and matches just don’t have the spark that Smackdown is able to deliver. So, with that said, Smackdown had the better show this week. In conclusion, the Royal Rumble is one of the big 4 PPV’s for the year of 2019 for WWE, and so far it looks like everything is going right for Smackdown while Raw is still trying to find their footing.
Nikki Cross Posts Farewell to NXT
WWE superstar Nikki Cross is on her way to the main roster, looking likely to land on the SmackDown roster.
Cross posted the following farewell to NXT, where he has spent the past few years, on her social media page:
See you down the road @WWENXT
This isn’t goodbye…we caused far too much mischief and had too much fun doing it for this to be it… pic.twitter.com/0Fk8wEEUzX— Nikki Cross (@NikkiCrossWWE) January 10, 2019
Matt Hardy Hinting at In-Ring Return
Matt Hardy may not be done wrestling after all.
The WWE superstar, and future WWE Hall of Famer, had been rumored to been winding down his career and transitioning to a backstage role in 2018 as he was dealing with a number of nagging injuries.
Hardy also posted a couple of videos, and posts on social media, that echoed those intentions, at least they appeared to.
Now, Hardy seems to be hinting at an in-ring return in WWE.
Excited to check out the 1st #RAW of 2019 tonight, especially with all the interesting things that are advertised. Most importantly, I need to see where all the pieces are positioned & moving to on the @WWE chess board.
ALMOST TIME TO GET BACK INTO THE GREAT GAME…. AGEEN! pic.twitter.com/WFXeCiHb1h— #WOKEN, yet #BROKEN, Matt Hardy (@MATTHARDYBRAND) January 8, 2019
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