Here is what WWE has advertised for tonight’s WWE NXT show from Orlando. It’s the first NXT since last Saturday’s excellent NXT Takeover WarGames event and NXT’s very impressive showing at Survivor Series on Sunday. The info comes from WWE.com:
* Undisputed ERA to defend NXT Tag Team Titles against Lee & Dijakovic
* Akira Tozawa challenges NXT Cruiserweight Champion Lio Rush
* Will Dakota Kai explain her shocking actions at TakeOver: WarGames?
* Is Tommaso Ciampa’s hunt for the NXT Championship back on?
TJR Thoughts: The heel turn of Kai was one of the best moments of Survivor Series weekend. I thought she did a great job and they can build to a future big match against Teagan Nox. Kai will likely get promo this week on NXT to explain herself.
I think it’s possible that Lee and Dijakovic win the NXT Tag Team Titles because they are coming into NXT this week with some positive momentum from the weekend, so it may be a good idea to do a title change that will pop the crowd.
In other NXT news for tonight, Mauro Ranallo is not expected to be there to call the action tonight, according to a report from Post Wrestling. That report was confirmed by PWInsider as well. It is unknown if Ranallo will be back next week.
Ranallo missed Sunday’s Survivor Series pay-per-view because he was reportedly upset about a Corey Graves tweet that criticized Ranallo for talking too much.
Ranallo ended up deactivating his Twitter account late Saturday night and it hasn’t been active since then. Ranallo has openly talked about being bipolar while also living with depression and anxiety issues, so Corey’s comments likely upset him.
Graves also went after Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez on Twitter after they reported on the story. Graves also replied to former MMA fighter Frank Shamrock, who is Ranallo’s friend and manager.
Frank, did you approve this tweet with Meltzer?
Instead of calling me? Or actually coming to TV to discuss things like grown men?
— Corey Graves (@WWEGraves) November 25, 2019
That led to Michael Cole replacing Ranallo at Survivor Series with Cole claiming that Mauro “blew his voice out” from being so excited at Takeover WarGames on Saturday. They weren’t going to say the real reason that Mauro was upset.
Graves apologized during his After The Bell podcast that was released today. Thanks to WrestlingInc for the transcript below:
“What’s up, everybody? Welcome to After The Bell, I am Corey Graves. A ton to get to this week as we do every week but before we go any further, on a personal note, I needed to address something. This past Saturday, during the ‘Takeover: WarGames’ event, I sent out a tweet. It was an unpopular opinion, as I often do with the intention of just stirring up a little controversy, maybe have something fun to talk about on TV or here on the show. It was maybe not the most professional way to go about things, and it was never meant to offend or disrespect or disparage anybody. That was never my intention. If it was taken as such, I apologize deeply. That was not my intention. I would never intentionally cause anybody undue stress, especially a co-worker. So, I apologize.”
Graves didn’t mention Ranallo by name, but that’s obviously what he was talking about.
It’s not known who is going to replace Ranallo on commentary tonight at this point, but I would guess Tom Phillips is a good choice to fill the spot.
Analysis: I thought Corey’s comments on Twitter were dumb. You all work for WWE. Talk about it privately or do something other than sending out a critical, cryptic tweet like that. I like Graves a lot, but sometimes I feel like he tries to be controversial to get attention and in this case, it bit him in the ass. It was a dumb thing for him to do.
As for Mauro, I hope he is okay. I watched the Showtime documentary about him last year where he talked in-depth about his anxiety issues and it’s scary to see what he’s been going through his whole life. It’s easy for people to criticize him and say he should just get past this, but Ranallo takes a lot of pride in his work. Clearly, it upset him. I don’t think Ranallo talks too much and I enjoy his work a lot. Anyway, for Mauro’s sake, I really hope he can overcome this and keep fighting.