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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK – How to Make the New RAW & Smackdown Brand Extension Successful

NOTE FROM TITO: I’m monitoring the situation with Brock Lesnar, but I’m letting the situation play out. In case you haven’t heard yet, Lesnar has been alerted by UFC regarding a possible violation from a sample specimen taken on June 28th (Los Angeles Times/Wrestling Observer). Lesnar has already responded with “we will get to the bottom of this” to the Associated Press. Until more information is known, no comment… But damn, if true, the hammer will fall if WWE’s Wellness Policy missed something on their end and also Lesnar’s UFC 200 victory. STAY TUNED.

—————————–

Follow Mr. Tito on Twitter.com: @titowrestling

Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. So, the Brand Extension train is coming and there’s nothing that I can do to stop it. For months now, I’ve tried to advise against it… (a) WWE Roster is too think and (b) Creative infrastructure cannot handle it. However, the WWE is beholden to the USA Networks and their absurd desire to host 5 hours of LIVE wrestling content on back-to-back days. Plus, I can only shout so loud with this column as many WWE lemmings are willing to jump off the cliff with this brand split idea.

But hey, I pride myself on writing a column that doesn’t just complain. I give ideas and advise wrestling promotions to the best of my abilities based on my many years as a wrestling fan and my actual experience working in a corporate setting.

Therefore, I will attempt to advise how to make the 2016 RAW/Smackdown Brand Extension successful… I’ll be honest and professional as possible, even though I’m completely repulsed by the idea that Stephanie McMahon remains on RAW… But I’ll keep the Stephanie bashing reserved and let you enjoy it in my last column. Again, if you want to remain a wrestling fan, you’ll have to endure the significant changes happening to RAW, Smackdown, and indirectly, NXT. Bigtime roll of the dice that if done correctly, could work… But the WWE cannot fumble the ball.

HOW TO MAKE THE WWE BRAND SPLIT OF 2016 SUCCESSFUL

Don’t Create a New World Title
Here’s my plan for the Titles on the RAW/Smackdown brand extension of 2016:
– Intercontinental Title – RAW Exclusive Singles Title
– United States Title – Smackdown Exclusive Singles Title
– *NEW* WWE Television Title – Must be defended on BOTH RAW and Smackdown each and every week – Champion is allowed to travel to each brand and returns to their drafted brand once title is lost. TV Title is also required to be defended on Pay Per Views. I would also recommend 10-15 minute time limits that are mentioned and sold.
– WWE Title, Women’s Title, and Tag Titles remain and champions are allowed to travel to each brand. When they lose their respective titles, they return to their drafted brand. Make the WWE Title special… Move it to the brand in need and make it feel *special* whenever the WWE Champion appears on a brand. In fact, I would use the WWE Title for dark matches following televised events to help pack in larger audiences for the show. Ditto for Women’s Title and Tag Titles. Champions appear on the brand with the wrestler(s) they are feuding with and move when needed.

WWE Title, Women’s, and Tag Titles do NOT have to be on every RAW/Smackdown show. Use the “30 Day Defense” rule. I would let the Intercontinental and United States Titles become the primary titles of each brand along with the Television Title. Protect the WWE Title and make it a special attraction for the WWE Network for its defense. WWE Champion doesn’t have to appear on every RAW/Smackdown show if the IC Title/United States Title are booked right. Ditto with having the Television Title appearing on both brands.

Raid NXT – But evolve the promotion into a Cruiserweight Promotion
Samoa Joe, Nakamura, American Alpha, Revival, Finn Balor, Bailey, and Asuka should be called up to the Main WWE roster. THEY ARE READY FOR THE BIG TIME. With that being said, the NXT roster is completely depleted… However, WWE is hosting the Cruiserweight Classic… The wrestling world is thick with smaller wrestlers who are incredibly talented as this CWC will prove. Hire them and let them be on the NXT brand once the talent raid happens. Hell, even create the NXT Cruiserweight Title.

Hire Kurt Angle as RAW General Manager
Angle is the PERFECT man for the job. We haven’t seen him in the WWE since 10 years ago and there is some legitimate tension that still exists from his exit that WWE could utilize. He’s an amazing speaker who has the talent to switch between heel and face to combat talent. But he could also talk down Stephanie McMahon, too. After all, they could actually play up their 2000 storyline romance to create some workplace sexual tension that could draw well. Angle is PERFECT to headline RAW as its General Manager (or COO?).

Keep Stephanie McMahon away from Male Wrestlers… But push her HARD against Females
Stephanie has given male wrestlers tons of damage over the years, particularly WWE Champions that the McMahons weren’t all the way sold on (Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Dean Ambrose, etc.). She has been able to talk them down and ZERO revenge happens. Yes, that is domestic violence… But female wrestlers can hit back. We saw that with Brie Bella but the WWE could do better with the babyface opponent. Bayley vs. Stephanie McMahon is PERFECT and it could easily rip pages out of Austin vs. Vince and get away with it. Better yet, the WWE could play up that Stephanie is CRAZY jealous over Bayley because (a) Stephanie’s daughters consider her a hero and (b) Triple H is proud of Bayley’s accomplishments. The heat is there and better yet, Stephanie can actually wrestle. Stephanie versus the Women’s Division creates a compelling storyline that is much needed for the 3 hour RAW.

Change the Production/Look of Smackdown
I have to credit Mr. Jason Powell from his appearance on the Jim Ross Podcast for this idea… If Smackdown just looked different from a production standpoint, such as different camera angles, lighting, stages, format, etc. Powell was suggesting even letting another producer run Smackdown but I doubt Kevin Dunn would give up his precious spot in that WWE Production Truck. However, Dunn himself can change things up for Smackdown’s production and push that Shane McMahon is in charge and making recommended changes.

Treat RAW/Smackdown like Sports Franchises
I suggested this in another column… NO 2017 Draft to reshuffle the deck. We’re DONE with that. What I recommend is that RAW and Smackdown are treated like professional sports franchises to perform the following:
(a) No more Drafts of existing wrestlers or reshuffling – RAW/Smackdown must trade with each other for changes.
(b) However – Have an annual “rookie” Draft of developmental wrestlers. WWE could play up wrestlers working their way up in developmental and hype the importance of each brand drafting first. Furthermore, RAW/Smackdown could trade draft picks for existing wrestlers…
(c) Bidding system for any free agents who are joining the main WWE rosters.
(d) Both have a Salary Cap/Fixed # Quota of Wrestlers that both Commissioners have to abide by and need to consider making “cuts” if they go over the Cap/Quota.
(e) Both have open Injury Lists and can place wrestlers on the Injured Reserve/Disabled List. When placing a wrestler on the DL, this allows RAW/Smackdown an open roster spot for considerations.

Non-Title Matches are BANNED
Either the Title is on the line or the champions don’t wrestle… Just place the damn titles on the line and use the simple mechanics of DISQUALIFICATIONS, COUNTOUTS, and TIME LIMITS to protect the champions. Remember – titles cannot change hands when those 3 events occur, except when specified. How do you think Ric Flair made fans believe that ANY wrestler could take his WCW World Title? He used that Disqualifications rule to his advantage to remain champion. If you don’t use one of the 3 methods, let the heels cheat to win. It builds heat.

Use Paul Heyman on a Creative Team
Stating the obvious. Heyman was the Creative Lead for Smackdown during 2002-2004. It is a FACT that Smackdown outdrew RAW regularly. Midcarders need this guy and guys like Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Rusev, Jack Swagger, the Miz, etc. could use Heyman’s creativity to get their characters over.

RAW’s 3rd Hour becomes TV-14 or even TV-MA
How to you make RAW interesting for 3 hours? Make the 3rd hour, which airs from 10pm to 11pm, to fly off the handle! Let the language get rougher, let the violence increase, etc. WWE can more than advertise that the first 2 hours of RAW are “safe” but that it’s up to the parents’ discretion to let their kids watch hour #3 or not.

Hype matches ahead of time
Can’t say this enough… Announce at least 3 matches ahead of time for each show. Too much booking on the fly, or the appearance of, has eroded the credibility of WWE to appear like a valid sporting event.

Trademark Finishers & Submission Holds
Not a Brand Extension suggestion per say, but my usual recommendation… Why can’t every wrestler just do John Cena’s Attitude Adjustment to win a match? Ditto for the RKO or Pedigree? WWE needs to create a Trademark Office that allows wrestlers to “trademark” ONE unique finishing move and unique ONE submission hold. If, for example, Brock Lesnar did an RKO on Randy Orton at SummerSlam 2016, Lesnar would be disqualified. Automatic rule. It protects the finisher and eliminates the logic of “why isn’t the entire roster doing RKO finishers?”.

END Hell in a Cell, TLC, and Extreme Rules Pay Per Views
Just do it… Those gimmick Pay Per Views are STUPID. “Hey, it’s October, time to wrestle in a big freakin’ cage”. Better yet, TLC is completely redundant with Money in the Bank’s Pay Per View. Lots of WCW Pay Per View names to use, but also RAW/Smackdown brand specific names used from the past as well.

Put Sponsors on the Ring, Tights, etc., and make it brand specific.
Said it for years… WWE is missing out on a ton of advertising dollars by not placing ads on the ring, turnbuckles, posts, ring barriers, ring apron, and wrestler tights. I know that advertisers can cheap it up, but who cares what’s on the ring when someone gets bodyslammed on it?

Put wrestling veterans and former creative guys on the WWE Creative Team
Jim Ross, Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Vince Russo, Dutch Mantel, Bruce Pritchard, Jim Cornette, Kevin Nash, and a whole list of wrestling veterans are out there and have in-ring knowledge to give. I’m NOT saying giving these guys full reign, but many of those guys know the business extremely well. Austin and Foley, in particular, are untapped as creative forces… Just listen to Austin’s Podcast and you’ll hear how intelligent he is about the business. Foley is a creative writer who has published a handful of books. WWE needs more WRESTING guys to get in the ear of Vince McMahon to help him produce a better WRESTLING product.

And finally…

Triple H & Vince McMahon – Limited Use on TV
Vince and Triple H are just too powerful in the WWE… Vince is CEO/Board Chairman, Triple H can wrestle just 1-2 times a year and yet he’s dominant. “Less is more” with both of those guys as they always suck the air out of the room upon arrival. The more important thing to perform while HHH is used less on television is continue his training as an executive. What he’s missing is the financial side of things. Much of HHH’s past before wrestling was bodybuilding and working in gyms. Could he fully comprehend changes in WWE’s Balance Sheet, Income Statement, or other key ratios? Does he know how to make projections for shareholders? Does he know how to manage wrestler salaries?

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LAST WORD: So there you go… Legitimate ideas to consider for the RAW/Smackdown brand extension. I still worry about the Roster and the Creative Infrastructure, but that’s just my opinion. I HOPE THAT I’M WRONG and that it’s a success. I’m still a pro wrestling fan and want to continue being a pro wrestling fan. I really dislike what might happen to the NXT brand which I’ve really enjoyed for the last year. I personally thought that WWE achieved legitimate success with the NXT brand and could have made that into the true #2 brand instead of splitting RAW and Smackdown again.

Again – I hope that I’m wrong about my RAW/Smackdown brand extension worries… But if I am, opportunity knocks for other promotions to rise up and strike. I’m afraid that ship has already sailed and the brand extension’s failure to make new stars could put nails in pro wrestling’s column.

I always laugh at the argument of the “Brand Extension creates new stars”. NO, Paul Heyman creates new stars. Aside from Batista and sort of with Randy Orton, what did RAW create again from 2002-2011? Lots of Rodney Mack, Snitsky, and Eugene wrestlers created… Umaga wasn’t bad, though, and is an example of a random tag wrestler getting an opportunity. When I keep mentioning the “Ohio Valley Wrestling Class of 2002”, it’s very specific to producing the 2 biggest stars of today’s WWE, John Cena and Brock Lesnar, two “Paul Heyman Guys” from Smackdown 2002-2004. And Edge, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio Jr., and others saw serious growth during 2002-2004. And Heyman salvaged CM Punk when he was at Ohio Valley Wrestling.

Heyman is RIGHT THERE, WWE… He’s on your freakin’ roster. USE HIM!

SO JUST CHILL… ‘TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!

Comments and feedback are welcome. Follow and Tweet me @titowrestling or login in below to post comments.

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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK – How to Make the New RAW & Smackdown Brand Extension Successful

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Possible WWE CWC Injury, WWE Fans on Stables and the Draft, The Miz Filming (Photo)

– Johnny Gargano may have suffered a leg injury during a match at last night’s WWE Cruiserweight Classic tapings from Full Sail University. In what was described as a scary spot, Gargano flipped onto his opponent outside of the ring but his legs hit the timekeeper’s table and chair also. Gargano sold a leg injury but finished the match. He was checked on by a trainer after the match and then helped to the back. No word yet on if the injury was legit or not.

– WWE has a new poll asking fans which group they most want to see stay on the same brand through the WWE Draft – The Social Outcasts, The Club, The Wyatt Family or WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day. As of this writing, 52% went with The New Day while 27% voted for The Wyatts and 18% for The Club.

– WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz was in Austin, TX filming an unknown project on Thursday. He tweeted the following:

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Possible WWE CWC Injury, WWE Fans on Stables and the Draft, The Miz Filming (Photo)

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John Cena Working on a New Project, Athletes In WWE (Video), New DDP Promo

– Diamond Dallas Page is featured in this funny new promo for his “DDP Yoga 4 Mamas” workout:

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– WWE posted this video looking at various pro athletes showing up in the company:

From the #HBKLine to @RondaRousey at @WrestleMania, @WWE is ALWAYS intertwining with the world’s greatest athletes! https://t.co/3CE6ZjJG5N

— WWE (@WWE) July 14, 2016

– John Cena is getting dirty in the desert this week, apparently filming a new project. He tweeted the following comments after hosting the ESPY Awards and then a photo this morning:

Take time to contemplate failure, and enjoy success, but always move forward. From the stage, to the sand, a new day brings a new challenge

— John Cena (@JohnCena) July 14, 2016

What a difference a day makes! Headed back to the desert for another dirty day then fly to NYC for @WWE @TheGarden pic.twitter.com/UwBvH4aU90

— John Cena (@JohnCena) July 15, 2016

HHH Low-Balling WWE Stars on Money?, Big News on a WWE Team Splitting Up, WWE Star Speaking Out Against the Company Soon?, WHY Roman Reigns Failed a WWE Wellness Test, Big Backstage WWE Draft Updates, New Members of The Club, WWE Star Gets Heat for Sloppy Work, , Interesting Dean Ambrose News, Possible AJ Styles Title Plans, Major Tag Team Division Changes Coming?, WWE Ribbing Top Stars on TV, Vince McMahon Wants Famous Star, Title Plans for John Cena, Major WWE Plans for Kevin Owens and Big Cass, Must See New Lana & AJ Lee & Maryse, Lots of New GIFs & Exclusives, More

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John Cena Working on a New Project, Athletes In WWE (Video), New DDP Promo

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Brock Lesnar Flagged By USADA For Potential Anti-Doping Violation

Former WWE and UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar has been flagged by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for a potential anti-doping violation that stems from an failure of an out-of-competition drug test that took place on June 28th.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship announced that USADA received the results on July 14th, five days after Lesnar’s UFC 200 fight against Mark Hunt. Per their policy, USADA has not disclosed the substance that Lesnar tested positive for.

Below is the UFC’s official statement regarding the matter:

“The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Brock Lesnar of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection on June 28, 2016. USADA received the testing results from the June 28, 2016 sample collection from the WADA-accredited UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory on the evening of July 14, 2016.

USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case. It is important to note that, under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full fair legal review process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. The Nevada State Athletic Commission also retains jurisdiction over this matter as the sample collection was performed in close proximity to Lesnar’s bout at UFC 200 in Las Vegas.

Consistent with all previous potential anti-doping violations, additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.”

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Brock Lesnar Flagged By USADA For Potential Anti-Doping Violation

Women's Tag Team Match Announced for WWE Battleground, Updated Card

Dana Brooke and WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks and a partner of her choosing is now official for the July 24th WWE Battleground pay-per-view. Here’s what looks to be the final card for Battleground:

Triple Threat for the WWE Title
Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose

WWE Intercontinental Title Match
Darren Young with Bob Backlund vs. The Miz with Maryse

WWE United States Title Match
Zack Ryder vs. Rusev with Lana

John Cena, Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson

Sasha Banks and a Mystery Partner vs. Dana Brooke and WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte

Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens

Becky Lynch vs. Natalya

The Wyatt Family vs. The New Day

The Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho and Randy Orton

HHH Low-Balling WWE Stars on Money?, Big News on a WWE Team Splitting Up, WWE Star Speaking Out Against the Company Soon?, WHY Roman Reigns Failed a WWE Wellness Test, Big Backstage WWE Draft Updates, New Members of The Club, WWE Star Gets Heat for Sloppy Work, , Interesting Dean Ambrose News, Possible AJ Styles Title Plans, Major Tag Team Division Changes Coming?, WWE Ribbing Top Stars on TV, Vince McMahon Wants Famous Star, Title Plans for John Cena, Major WWE Plans for Kevin Owens and Big Cass, Must See New Lana & AJ Lee & Maryse, Lots of New GIFs & Exclusives, More

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Women's Tag Team Match Announced for WWE Battleground, Updated Card

Director of WWE Swerved Reveals There Was A "DO NOT SWERVE" List, Almost Blinding Kofi Kingston, More

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Ben Pluimer one of the co-executive producers and director of WWE Swerved which airs on the WWE Network recently took part in an Ask me anything on Reddit. He confirmed that there was intial backlash from WWE Superstars to the show when it first launched and there was aDO NOT SWERVE list.The backlash was real. When superstars heard about the prank show, we would have to sneak into venues through back doors so they didnt see us. They got to know some familiar faces and if they saw any of us, they would spread the word. Sometimes they

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Director of WWE Swerved Reveals There Was A "DO NOT SWERVE" List, Almost Blinding Kofi Kingston, More

Kevin Nash Says “There's Just Not A Lot Of Depth” On The WWE Roster Ahead Of The Brand Split

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WWE Hall of Famer Kevin Nash was recently interviewed by Sports Illustrateds Extra Mustard in which he talks about his blessing to The Club using the too sweet gesture, Roman Reigns and the current WWE roster not having enough depth going into the brand split.Giving his blessing to The Club to use the too sweet gestureIf youre over enough to use that and the people dont sh on you, youre over. I dont mind it at all. I just didnt like them bringing in Doc and Anderson, then having that six-man elimination match against Roman Reigns and The

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Kevin Nash Says “There's Just Not A Lot Of Depth” On The WWE Roster Ahead Of The Brand Split

Eric Bischoff Talks His New WWE DVD, How He Would Book Roman Reigns and Pro Wrestling's Future

Eric Bischoff was special guest on episode 125 of The Ross Report on which he discussed a number of topics including his new WWE DVD, Eric Bischoff: Sports Entertainment’s Most Controversial Figure, how he would book Roman Reigns, and the future of professional wrestling.

On His New WWE DVD:

“I was tentative at first because, as we all know, history is written by the victors and WWE has their own point of view about history, as they should. And we’ve all heard it. We’ve all seen it. But I was a little reluctant to just kind of completely open up and particularly bringing in my personal life to the extent that I did and my family and not having any control at all over anything, just hoping for the best and hoping that it would be a well balanced and thoughtful documentary and it was more than I could have hoped for. I think the WWE and the entire team that worked on the project really made an effort to produce something that was a little different than what the audience has seen before, at least when it comes to my career, so I texted Vince [McMahon] after I saw it, the final cut, and told him that I was both very proud and very grateful that they produced it because it’s something that’ll live, it’ll be around long after I am.”

On Booking Roman Reigns:

“I’d like to think that what I would do is I would watch the reaction, much like I used to do when I’d sit up in the stands, behind the curtain, kind of find the cheapest seat in the house and just try to feel like a fan is, I would sit back and I would try to watch it and then I would react to it, but I would react to it in a very seamless way that felt organic and natural as possible and I would let the story and character go where the story and character needed to go based on the kind of social interaction that I was seeing even if it was not the direction I wanted to go in in the first place. You have to adjust. At some point, you’ve got to go, ‘okay, I wanted to go left, but I kind of need to go right,’ but I’d do it slowly and gradually and make it feel organic.”

On The Future of Professional Wrestling:

“When we reach that point where all that ‘highspotitis’ as I like to call it, has kind of come and gone, because that’s what’s en vogue right now. Everybody wants to see that crazy crap. It doesn’t matter if there’s a story. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense. They just want to see Cirque du Soleil. That’ll run its course and it always comes back to story. So here’s where I think the future is bright: when it comes back to story, and it will, and when we’ve adjusted to the fact that our big time characters don’t need to be 6’6″ [and] 350 lbs., you’re going to find a lot more talent that can deliver because they won’t be doing six hurricanranas in a row and taking 15 dropkicks to the skull and getting up and doing a backflip. I mean, they won’t be doing that anymore because that will have run its course. Look, everything comes back to story. Shakespeare is still Shakespeare because story rules. It’ll come back to that.”

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Eric Bischoff Talks His New WWE DVD, How He Would Book Roman Reigns and Pro Wrestling's Future

Spoilers: WWE Cruiserweight Classic Quarterfinal Matches Set

Coming out of tonight’s second round WWE Cruiserweight Classic tapings at Full Sail University, we now know the quarterfinal matches:

* Gran Metalik vs. Akira Tozawa

* Rich Swann vs. TJ Perkins

* Noam Dar vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

* Kota Ibushi vs. Brian Kendrick

The quarterfinals will be taped on Friday, August 26th and then the series finale will take place on Wednesday, September 14th. That finale will air live on the WWE Network.

Spoilers from tonight’s tapings are at this link.

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Spoilers: WWE Cruiserweight Classic Quarterfinal Matches Set

Triple H Responds To Bret Hart's Recent Comments, NXT, WWE Draft, Brock Lesnar & WWE 2K17

Triple H recently did a Q&A with ESPN to promote the WWE NXT edition of WWE 2K17 and more.?

Brock Lesnar appears on the cover of “WWE 2K17,” and you recently praised his performance at UFC 200. What does his ability to cross over do for WWE’s brand?

It’s huge. I think any time that you can have a WWE performer that can cross over into something else and have that kind of a night or a performance, whether that’s making a movie or television show or competing in the UFC, that’s huge. To me, it speaks to the amazing athlete that Brock Lesnar is. To be able to come back at such an elite level after a fairly long period of time doing something different and be that dominant is just amazing to me.

We have said it a million times about Brock but I think it’s worth repeating. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime athlete that comes along and is just — you can see it when you look at him. Guys don’t come along that quick, that big, that fast, that aggressive and with that mentality. He is a once-in-a-lifetime combat athlete. Certainly he helps UFC, banking on Brock Lesnar’s name in the very beginning of him becoming a UFC star and showing his dominance in it. And now it’s the same thing, back and forth. They benefit from it, we benefit from it and it has been great. My hat’s off to Brock, he’s an amazing, amazing athlete.

Considering you are no longer presenting NXT exclusively as a developmental brand, how will its future be affected by the upcoming brand split?

It’s funny that when people talk about it to me, some will say, ‘Well, isn’t that the downfall of NXT because when a superstar becomes big enough that he’s immediately going to be taken away from you?’ I feel that’s the strength of the brand. If you look at the growth of NXT in the last couple years, there are points in time when people said, ‘Oh no, these characters are getting called up and [NXT] is doomed.’ We made somebody else the lead characters of the show and that’s the challenge and the beauty of it. It’s always fresh, it’s always different, it always feels like there is something new going on to me.

With NXT being different, it complements Raw and SmackDown. You have the opportunity to see these guys come in and make a name for themselves on a bigger platform. They can grow themselves while helping to create NXT’s brand. Then, if you’re following NXT, you’re ahead of the curve when they come to Raw and SmackDown. You know everything about them and their backstories. It’s like being a fan of the band before they hit it big. You have that claim to fame. And to our most passionate fan base that’s an exciting vibe that we have. I think that’s why social media is so strong for us — it’s people that want to be ahead of the curve.

Bret Hart recently took offense that your rating in “WWE 2K17” was higher than his. How aware are you about any rivalries in the locker room between superstars regarding the video game?

[Laughs]. I have not heard that. I’m sorry, there was a report that somebody was upset that their video game ranking was lower than mine? I don’t even know how that works to be honest but I suppose there is.

I see guys arguing about stuff all the time in the locker room and video game rankings would probably be part of that. I know that they are very competitive with each other in a lot of ways so it wouldn’t surprise me. Trust me, the locker room can make anything a competition.

You have competed against top superstars around the world. How rare of an athlete and performer is NXT star Shinsuke Nakamura in your eyes?

I have watched a lot of guys over the years and there are certain talent that you’re just drawn to, and that’s charisma and X factor and all those things. Shinsuke brings something to the table that I haven’t seen for a long time. He brings a level of charisma, a level of showmanship, that you don’t see a lot of times with guys that have an aggressive style, with the striking and skill set, that he does. He’s an amazing athlete.

I think he’s somebody I had my eye on for a long time as far as being part of WWE as a whole because I think he’s that different level of performer. He’s one of those guys that is harder to explain what he is because when you start to begin to say it, it doesn’t do it justice. You kind of just have to say, ‘You just have to see him.’ Once you see him, you want to watch him again. He’s that kind of performer.

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Triple H Responds To Bret Hart's Recent Comments, NXT, WWE Draft, Brock Lesnar & WWE 2K17