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TJR Q&A #66: The Rise of Kevin Owens in WWE, MJF’s Future in AEW, Bray Wyatt as The Fiend and More

It’s the second Q&A in the month of July, so I can give myself a Barry Horowitz pat on the back for staying true to my word in getting another Q&A posted this month. The questions come from my Facebook page as usual. Let’s get to it.

1. Jared Jackson-Ferrans
Thoughts on the NXT breakout tournament?

I think it’s great. It’s a smart way to introduce “new” wrestlers to the WWE audience. All of us know who they are from before WWE days, but it’s different when you join WWE and get in front of that audience. It’s also smart that the finals are going to be at NXT Takeover Toronto so that will be a true breakout match for those two guys.

It would be nice if they could do something like that on the main roster with newer talents or even guys that haven’t been given opportunities. Say there’s a tournament with guys who have never won a title, so the winner gets a US or IC Title shot. It would be different and cool, but sadly Vince doesn’t like tournaments, so I doubt it happens.

2. If KO winning isn’t the end result of this wacky Shane O’Mac push, who is and when?

I think Kevin Owens has become the guy that they want to push as a face on Smackdown right now along with Kofi and Reigns, which is fine with me because KO is very good at what he does. KO should absolutely destroy Shane at SummerSlam. Anything other than a very clean win from Owens is a bad move. If it was up to me, it would be a short match too. People are sick of Shane not in a good heel kind of way. They just want his push to end, so let’s have Owens destroy him and work on building up Owens even more.

Long term, I’d love to see Owens vs. Lesnar with Owens beating him at WrestleMania next year. That would be fun.

I feel bad for Miz because he has been booked like such a loser as a face with no significant wins and he’s not going to get that big win over Shane that he needed in their storyline.

3. Brian Coats
How would you put Sami Zayn back to relevance with Owens on his own and him getting pinned a ton since coming back?

He needs wins. It’s how you rehab any character. Put them in matches where they get significant wins and suddenly anybody is a star. It worked for Mark Henry in 2011 after he was booked like a loser for most of the 15 years before that. The disadvantage that Zayn has is he weighs 200 pounds and doesn’t look impressive physically, so he’s not a guy that Vince is going to look at and think they need to push him a lot.

I think Zayn being away from Owens is good, but he could use an ally to help him cheat and watch his back. A bigger guy to help him cheat would work. I don’t know if Drew McIntyre or Baron Corbin would be good for it, but that kind of thing may help. EC3 would work as an ally too.

4. Chance Weickenand
If you were writing for WWE, what ideas would you offer Vince on how to revitalize the tag team scene on the main roster?

Time and effort like with anything. The problem is they have too many titles on the main roster so there might be a month where they put a Tag Team Title match on a PPV, then the next month those titles are on the sideline. I wish they had the separate brand PPVs because think about how good the SD tag team division was when they actually gave a shit about the brand split.

I guess my answer is bring back brand exclusive PPVs and stay true to the brand split because otherwise there’s no way to properly push every title.

5. Nathan Hubbard
Next WWE wrestler to AEW?

Luke Harper whenever his deal is up. I think it’s April 2020. There might be somebody before that, but I don’t know all of the contract details or who may be up soon. I think AEW will want Harper because they need some bigger guys and he is very good. Harper is 39 years old now, so age is a factor too.

6. Frankie Calca
Your dream match? And whatever stipulation… iron man? Best of…and what venue??

There are so many I could pick. Maybe heel Kurt Angle in 2005 vs. face Bret Hart from 1994 or 1995. Something like that. I think they would have had incredible intensity, have a realistic looking match and work so well together. MSG is the venue. Regular match 20 minutes. It would be awesome.

7. Giles Hart
What are the best key episodes/dates of Nitro, Raw and Smackdown to start watching from to see the whole Monday Night Wars? I remember a fair bit from WWE 98 onwards thanks to my brother’s VHSs but not a lot from before or WCW. After hearing Austin on RAW, It’s really given me the urge to relive my first exposure to wrestling again but in full this time. Though it wasn’t weekly or even monthly, I still look upon it fondly.

For WWF I really like 1997 around March 1997 going into WM13 with the Bret/Austin feud carrying things for a few months. Most of 1998 is very good. While 1999 was very profitable, it wasn’t as interesting looking back. By 2000 it was a different crew and that’s my favorite year, which is why I’m reviewing it although I have taken a break.

For WCW I would suggest around June 1996 before the Hogan heel turn in July 1996. It’s good until about 1999 or so.

8. Michael Uong
Do you think the product has picked up with Heyman having more influence?

Not really. They didn’t do much on Raw to build to SummerSlam at all. The first week with Heyman having more influence was a better show, but then it’s back it normal. It’s going to take time.

Smackdown was clearly better this week and Bischoff didn’t have much influence at all. Again, it’s too early to really know how these moves will affect things. Perhaps after SummerSlam we’ll know more.

9. Stephen Hooker
When is WWE going to do something with EC3? This dude could be money if given a chance.

I agree. The story goes that Vince hated an Ambrose/EC3 match on Raw and EC3 has been buried ever since. I don’t even like to say “buried” because fans overuse it, but EC3 is the definition of that right now. You would think Vince would love a guy like him that has a body like that and can talk, but Vince isn’t impressed by his work in the ring. I hope he gets a chance.

Find him somebody to team up with either as a tag team (maybe Mojo Rawley) or put him with Sami Zayn like I mentioned earlier. That way, if Vince really doesn’t like him in the ring, he can be limited in the ring and focus more on the character.

10. Van Wilhoite
Dark horse candidate to become WWE or Universal champ between now and the end of next year’s WrestleMania?

I doubt anybody would have picked Kofi Kingston this year huh? I don’t think it will happen, but a dark horse pick is Andrade. I like him a lot. Ricochet is a good pick too.

11. Kenny Brophy
Do you think WWE has wrestlers face each other on RAW or Smackdown too much before PPVs nowadays? I don’t remember Austin & Rock for example having matches against each other before WrestleMania – it was just a brawl or two.

Yeah. They definitely do the “lose a non-title to set up a title match” thing too much and I have been whining about that for 20 years. I think they need to cut back on it big time. You can have the guys wrestle at live events to work on their match, but stop doing the obvious tags and other matches where they wrestle on TV. If you see it too often on TV, it lessens the impact on PPV.

12. Ryan Mullins
Is it true that Eric Bischoff won’t be involved with creative on Smackdown??

I’m not sure about that, which is why I was hesitant to post it when Dave Meltzer posted it. I think Eric will definitely be involved although I don’t know the capacity. It seems weird to me that he would be heavily involved in Smackdown, yet not have an influence in what is on screen. I think he’ll have long term story ideas and probably have insight every week.

13. Larry Yadao
What is your all around opinion on Becky Lynch. I think shes a great promo, beautiful, but I feel though shes solid in the ring, I feel she isnt anything that stands out like even the likes of Charlotte and Sasha have shown in the past in regards to ring work and that hurts her. With the push shes gotten, do you think shes lived up to the hype? (This would include merch sales and so forth as well as all around package.)

I like her and I am genuinely happy for her success as well as how far she has made it in WWE. I think she’s very good. She has lost steam due to a lack of great heel opponents. She was booked great going into SummerSlam last year when she won every match she had for a few months, then turned on Charlotte and the fans did not want to boo her. Add in the presence of Ronda Rousey and Becky caught fire. They were right to end WrestleMania with those three women.

I just think she’s less cool without a great heel rival right now. I hope that heel rival is Sasha Banks or Ronda if she comes back, but I see Ronda on Smackdown on Fox if she is back in WWE too.

14. Leo Carter
Who do you think Roman Reigns faces at SummerSlam?

Nothing is certain, but WWE is promoting a Samoan Summit with Reigns and Samoa Joe, so that’s probably the SummerSlam match. I don’t like how Joe lost clean to Reigns last week on Raw, though.

15. Alan Spindlow
Apart from Cody, Omega, Young bucks etc, who else are you looking forward to see when AEW airs its weekly TV show?

My two favorites are definitely Jericho and Omega since they are Canadians like me, so I’m loyal to them.

After that, I really like Pentagon and Fenix as a team. MJF has a very bright future, I like Luchasaurus/Jungle Boy as a team and I want to see what Shawn Spears can do. I’m happy Awesome Kong is there because she’s an awesome person, Allie is another female favorite and there’s a lot more to like.

16. Anthony James
How would you book the fiend moving forward? Would you continue the multiple personality and the firefly funhouse? I think it would put bray over huge if they made it demon fin vs the fiend and let bray be the one to finally defeat the demon. Thoughts?

Win every match for six months or a year. He should be dominant like The Undertaker was in the early 1990s when he won everything unless he was attacked by multiple guys. I would continue the multiple personality thing for sure. Long term maybe they can do Fiend vs. Demon.

17. Robert Mccormick III
Should they stop all this split brand BS? In some cases it’s already happening.

No. They need to enforce the brand extension. Stay true to it. One brand only for everybody. It’s better than what they are doing now with people allowed to be on both shows.

18. Roderick Walker
Who was the better overall performer: The Rock, John Cena or Steve Austin?

I think Steve Austin was better overall than the other two because I watched him in WCW too. I think his run on the top in WWE wasn’t long enough due to injury, so give Cena a lot of credit for being a main eventer for over a decade. The Rock is a favorite of mine too, but his career was too short in WWE. Obviously, nobody is going to blame him for leaving since he’s become so successful outside of WWE as an actor and producer.

19. Andy Savieo
With Brock Lesnar rumored to be “done” after Mania next year, who do you think/who would you have him put over on his way out? I’m intrigued by Matt Riddle saying he wants to retire Brock. Could be a career making moment for a young star.

I don’t see him being done any time soon. Lesnar contract news doesn’t mean anything since they have had working agreements for years. He’s 42 this year. I think he’ll keep going until mid-40s maybe later especially with Heyman getting more booking influence.

I think Riddle vs. Lesnar is a match that will happen in the next two years and will be a lot of fun. Sadly, I also think there’s a chance that Vince won’t “get” Riddle and may not use him well.

20. Daniel Mount
How awesome is MJF? Are you a fan?

Yeah he’s pretty great. I am a fan. I think some of the jokes like “your mom is this” or “your sister liked it last night” or whatever is not original and I was making those jokes before he was even alive (he’s only 23). Plus, his character is basically 2008 Jericho complete with a scarf and also similar to Miz earlier this decade. He’s not that original.

To his credit, he doesn’t let up, he doesn’t keep his mouth shut and I like that about him. Steve Austin gave the advice to Kevin Owens years ago to “never shut up” and MJF is doing that. Also, in the ring, he’s pretty good already at such a young age.

I am equally as excited for MJF’s future as I am for Velveteen Dream’s future. Both the same age with incredible star power already. They are the guys to watch in the 2020s decade.

21. Adam Symes
Do you think Jacob Fatu is more likely to end up in WWE or AEW?

I think he’ll be in WWE one day due to all the connections there like The Usos being his cousins (same last name), Roman Reigns is related and the whole family has ties there. He’s a future main eventer wherever he ends up.

22. Dylan Eisner
Even though he’s a hall of famer and multi-time champion, is Edge underrated? Seems like he never gets mentioned with the all time greats. Also if he never got injured do you think he would still be a full-time guy?

I don’t think he’s underrated. I think by the end of his run he was appreciated a lot. It sucks that his career ended before he got to go into his 40s because guys like Taker and Michaels were amazing into their 40s.

I think Edge is appreciated a lot although he is a notch below the likes of Austin, Rock, Flair, Michaels, Undertaker, Angle and those guys. Nothing wrong with that.

I doubt he would have wrestled much longer. I think he has said another 2-3 years after when he was forced to retire, so maybe 2013 or 2014.

23. Joshua Sloan
Why wasn’t The Rock at the Raw Reunion?

I assume he was busy, but I don’t know his obligations. I think maybe he’ll be at the Smackdown on Fox on October 4 and because of that, he probably wants his return to be on that show when it will be more of a surprise.

24. Ryan Strange
Have you ever considered applying job for WWE writer?

Not really. There was a quick application, but nothing that serious. I like what I do now, I make a good living writing about WWE and I don’t think I would like a job where I travel as much as some of the guys there. Plus there are a lot of horror stories from guys talking about how they don’t get a big say in the on-screen product. Plus, I would probably get fired quickly for questioning logic holes or complaining about how boring it is when champs lose non-title to build a contender. There other ways to do it! Anyway, I’m happy where I am. Working for WWE doesn’t appeal to me that much. I would love to work for the Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors or Toronto Blue Jays, but I also haven’t applied to work for them in my life.

25. Daniel Lerma

Do you think WWE should emphasize more in giving English lessons to their foreign superstars before and after debuting on TV, so long term the language barrier doesn’t “affects” them that much? Especially if that’s the reason they won’t push people like Asuka, Io and more.

Yes. I’m sure that goes on in NXT. I know Andrade has been working at it a lot and I’m sure his girlfriend Charlotte helps him too. I also think WWE needs to do a better job of working around that. Like, it shouldn’t be a reason to not push somebody, but I think Vince is going to prefer an American because most of the audience is American too.

Poor Asuka. The worst booked person on the show.

26. Tim Gaughan
If Mr. Perfect never had the back injury in 1991 and Flair never came to the WWF would Perfect have won the WWF title and feuded with the likes of Savage and Bret?

Maybe, but I don’t think Vince wanted to push Perfect as a face World Champion since he was a natural heel. I think Hogan beating Flair was the first plan, then they changed that, then Macho Man got his time and then it was Bret who stepped up.

27. Matt Livingstone
Who will become a world champion (WWE or Universal) first: Drew McIntyre, Cesaro, Ricochet, or Aleister Black?

I would have said Drew in 2009, 2010 as the start of 2018 and 2019. Right now I would say Ricochet out of those choices. Next year most likely.

28. Dangelino Ochoa I have nWo on the brain. Here goes.
1) Why do you think Scott Hall never had a WWE Title run?
2) If Hall & Nash never join WCW, does Hogan ever turn heel?
3) Nash has said if Hogan didn’t turn, the third man was supposed to be Sting. Do you think that would’ve worked

I think it was hard to trust him due to his drinking and drug problems that WWE was very aware of. Plus, he had a role as a guy that was in the semi-main event scene and I don’t think WWE saw him as a top guy. Those out of ring issues were a factor.

I think Hogan would have turned heel at some point even without the NWO. They might have done the Hogan turn at some point because he was getting stale as a face. He was getting booed sometimes in late 1995 and into 1996. I think he was smart enough to know to turn.

It would have worked to some degree, but not to the same effect. The whole idea was that Nash and Hall were “Outsiders” due to being recent WWF guys, so having the biggest WWF guy Hogan join them was a huge thing. Having Sting do it would have less of an effect since Sting was not a WWF guy.

29. Ralph Racine
Where the hell is Rusev?

I think he asked for time off or was given time off to have a break so they can bring him back fresh whenever they plan on it. I don’t know if he went as far as requesting a release along with Lana because I think they’re doing some comic book or book for WWE that comes out later this year.

Rusev’s wife Lana seems to be busy taking lingerie and bikini photos every week. Thanks for sharing them on Instagram.

30. Amber Stultz
What do you think is going on with Sasha Banks?

Four month vacations are nice. She was frustrated I guess, so was given time off. I don’t think there was a release request. Her husband has worked for WWE for years as a costume designer (he used to wrestle in the indies, that’s how they met) and he was just in an Instagram video with Bayley the other day. That tells me Bayley and her fiance (Aaron Solow, also a wrestler) are likely hanging out with Sasha and her husband on off days for Bayley. I wish I could have a four month vacation!

31. Joe Sondag
Do you think it’s possible or even coherent to say or think that the Four Horsewomen(Bayley, Becky, Charlotte & Sasha) made as much impact (excuse the pun) for their division as the Shield members did for theirs?

Yeah those women have made a huge impact in WWE history. They helped change things big time. When we look back on this era in the future, they’re a big reason for change for sure. Those four really were the catalysts starting in NXT in 2014/15, then taking it to the main roster and obviously Becky/Charlotte being in the main event of WM. I think Ronda Rousey will admit also that she wanted to get into wrestling because of those women making women’s wrestling a lot cooler and look as good as ever. So yeah, most definitely those Four Horsewomen are the foundation with which the “Women’s Evolution” has been built on.

I know Alexa Bliss isn’t the worker in the ring that those four are, but she has done well and is a good heel too.

32. Geoff Landtbom
Right now is Cole/Gargano a better feud than Flair/Steamboat and in 30 years will it be one of the best feuds of all time?

No. NXT is not as big as NWA 1989 or any WWE main roster stuff. NXT is a good product, but it’s a niche product. When I write about NXT Takeover it might get 1/3 of the views as a WWE main roster PPV will get even though Takeover is a better show. The reason is that some fans aren’t going to watch NXT no matter what. I find it silly, but to each their own. As good as Cole/Gargano has been (multiple five star matches from me and Meltzer), it’s really hard to put NXT at the same level as Flair and Steamboat.

Plus, I’m sure some people don’t like the Gargano/Cole matches because they might hit 15 superkicks or other moves that should be finishers, yet they keep kicking out of everything because they’re going 30 minutes. It’s a different era. I enjoy it, but it’s not for everyone.

I think Flair/Steamboat or Austin/Bret or whatever legendary feud is on another level.

33. John Czech
Do you think a CM Punk vs. Shawn Michaels fued would have been an all time great? I’ve said for years that’s my dream fued and match.

Yeah their styles would have meshed perfectly. They probably could have done it in 2008 or 2009, but Shawn was winding down and Punk was more of a Smackdown guy in 2009. Punk as a cocky heel young on the rise against the veteran face Michaels trying to prove he can still go, it’s an easy feud to book. I think the awesome Jericho/Michaels feud showed what it would have been like.

This Instagram post by Steve Austin has nothing to do with the Q&A, but I thought it looked great, so I’ll end it with this.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B0W7vkYAtw_/

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Thanks to everybody that participated. Check out our Q&A archives here as well.