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.
NXT’s Adam Cole Discusses Creative Freedom
NXT Champion Adam Cole is at the height of his success with the promotion, recently defeating Johnny Gargano in another instant classic to capture his first NXT Championship, and he is talking about how things go down in NXT.
Unlike much of the main roster, where promos are often scripted and comedy-acts are more common, Cole says that superstars in NXT get a bit more creative freedom, as he had with Gargano for their match.
“One of the coolest things about NXT is we have a ton of creative liberties to come up with the story and the vision we have for the match” Cole said, during an interview with TalkSport. “Of course, there’s input and advice given and there’s suggestions or, you know ‘we need something this way’ (but) we do have a lot of freedom, which is great.”
Cole added that he and Gargano came up with the format for their two out of three falls classic at NXT Takeover: New York.
Rey Mysterio Praises Andrade
WWE superstar Rey Mysterio believes that the company has a big star on their hands in Andrade .
“This kid is awesome” Mysterio said, during an appearance on the WINCLY podcast. “I mentioned it before, in previous interviews, but, every time I’m in the ring with him, there’s an affiliation to how I would move with Eddie [Guerrero],” Mysterio said.
“This is how good he is! He’s thinking a step ahead before you even move. He already knows the positioning, and knows exactly what to do and how to do it. My hat goes off to Andrade, as he’s definitely the future of WWE.”
Mysterio sees all the tools necessary to succeed in WWE.
“Just like anybody else, once you can dominate the mic skills and English, then he is bound to become a star,” Mysterio continued. “I’ve seen him work on his English, and it’s a slow process, but he’s moving forward. Once he dominates his English language, he’s on his way to stardom.”
Fandango, Apollo Crews, Killain Dain Make Returns to NXT
WWE is starting to allow superstars on their main rosters to transition back to NXT, much like they did with Tyler Breeze, who recently returned to NXT, where he had his most success, following around 2 years of meandering on the main roster following his callup.
Fandango, Apollo Crews, and Killian Dain made their returns to NXT tv at Winter Park, FL at Full Sail University for Thursday’s NXT TV tapings.
Fandango, also making his return from injury, made the save for his Breezango partner, Tyler Breeze, who was on the receiving end of an attack at the hands of the Forgotten Sons. Crews made his return to take on Kushida in singles competition, and Dain made a brutal attack on Matt Riddle following Riddle’s win over Arture Rass.
Fandango had been out of action after suffering a shoulder injury back in July 2018.
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