Shawn Michaels Talks TNA Crossover, Joe Hendry, Ethan Page, Je'Von Evans & more


-- Ahead of Sunday's NXT Heatwave, WWE's Senior Vice President of Talent Development Creative Shawn Michaels held a conference call with members of the wrestling media this morning. Below are two versions of a recap:

-Shawn Michaels opened the call by running through the NXT Heatwave lineup. He noted that some of the NXT crew had to get passports for the first time in their lives due to the show being held in Toronto.

-Michaels was asked by Mike Johnson about the potential involvement with TNA given that the show is in Canada and how things are going with Anthem. Michaels spoke about other working arrangements and said AJ Styles will be working with Pro Wrestling Noah, and they have crossovers with Bloodsport. Michaels said he could not give any specifics regarding NXT and TNA.

-Dominic DeAngelo asked about Charlie Dempsey. Michaels spoke about how he is very adaptable and said he thinks he thrives with crossovers in Pro Wrestling Noah and Bloodsport. He said they are trying to find out how of entertainment ability that he has like his father William Regal possesses. Michaels credited Dempsey with embracing that and showing a lot of range.

-John Pollock asked about the departures of Gable Steveson and Drew Gulak and the contributing factors. Pollock also asked if there was a disciplinary reason for Gulak. Michaels said Gulak’s contract was up and there wasn’t a place for him on the main roster. Michaels said Steveson is incredibly talented and wished him well with his NFL career.

-Kimmy Sokol asked Michaels about Mia Yim’s recent involvement in NXT. Michaels said she has been fantastic and added that it’s a huge plus whenever they have main roster wrestlers come down to help the younger talent. Michaels said Michin seems to enjoy it and likes having more than three minutes to showcase herself.

-Michaels was asked by Steve Fall about rumors that NXT will be on the road for the first show on The CW. Fall asked if Michaels would like to take the show on the road every week. Michael said he hears rumors about the first show too, but did not make anything official. He said it’s above his pay grade, but they are thrilled to get out on the road for premium live events. He spoke about the excitement of the crew for going to Toronto. He noted that Je’Von Evans is a wrestler who has not left the country before.

-Kenny McIntosh asked about Joe Hendry. Michaels said he met Hendry for the first time when Hendry appeared on television. He called him a bright young man and said he would like to work with him again. Michaels said Hendry has a very bright future and said he likes the way Hendry has done things on his own via social media.

-Stephanie Hypes brought up NXT Battleground being held at UFC Apex. Michaels said he thinks they learned a lot when they were there and had good things to say about working with the UFC folks. He said they also learned how they can make things better the next time they go there.

-Adam Silverstein asked about Je’Von Evans and how he has adapted. Michaels appreciates that Evans seems to be very patient and doesn’t think he’s immediately ready for the main roster. He said Evans is living his best life and have the best time in the world. Michaels said Evans is extremely talented. Michaels said Evans will do amazing things in the ring and he will praise him, but it’s just another day at the office for Evans.

-Phil Strum asked about Ethan Page and Shawn Spears. Michaels said they are fantastic. He recalled working with Spears in NXT many years ago and said he was a great guy then and a great guy now. He said he’s just getting to know Page and praised them both for the leadership that they bring.

-Bill Pritchard asked about social media and creating buzz by bringing in Sexyy Red and how much of that is his idea. Michaels said he plays dumb when it comes to social media, but he has Twitter. He said he was familiar with Joe Hendry before they had him on NXT television. Michaels said he takes the social media team’s input and they run analytics on things. He said they have young people on their creative team and that helps him. He said that when he calls someone a narc, they tell him that no one says that now.

-Matthew Aguilar asked about Kendrick Lamar and Drake, and being included in a song. Michaels said he enjoys that sort of thing.

-Graham Mirmina asked about life after the WWE Draft and how it has been different compared to past years. Michaels spoke about changes to storylines. He said he takes things too personal and cares too much. Michaels said he can’t help it. Michaels said Paul Levsque taught him that there will be ebbs and flows and that you can’t get too high or too low.

-Josh Nason asked about bringing in veterans and whether it’s a good lesson for wrestlers who might be worried about not getting opportunities. Michaels said just about everyone who walks through the doors at NXT understands that it is developmental. He said they don’t just handle development inside the ropes. He said it’s a business and how talents handle situations can affect how they move forward.

-Alistair McGeorge asked about the Brooks Jensen storyline and finding a sensitive way to tell the story. Michaels was also asked about the story being similar to his own. Michaels said they always want to be sensitive. He said there are times when you miss the mark and people take something from a story that was not intentional.

-Jim Varsallone asked about the Florida house shows being scaled back after the pandemic and how the younger wrestlers get their reps. Michaels spoke about adding to the Florida loop and holding smaller shows at the WWE Performance Center.

-I asked about Lola Vice and the potential of her being fast tracked to the main roster. Michaels spoke about his goal to have the wrestlers as ready as possible for the main roster. He spoke favorably about Vice and said she has all the tools, yet emphasized the general need to give talent the tools they need even if it means keeping them in NXT longer than some might like.

-John Powell brought up Madusa telling a story of offering to help in another company and essentially being rejected. Michaels spoke about veterans mentoring in NXT.

-Kelly Wells asked about Kelani Jordan. Michaels got into talking about talent moving up to the main roster and being exposed to a new audience. He said Jordan is someone who will continue to learn and grow in NXT. Michaels closed out the call with a plug for NXT Heatwave.

Recap by: pwinsider.com

Shawn Michaels welcomed everyone to the call and ran down the lineup for the Heatwave PPV.

Michaels was asked about his thoughts about working with Anthem thus far with the TNA crossover and whether we'd see that continue at Heatwave. Michaels talked up all the recent WWE collaborations but said he couldn't speak more on what was to come with the TNA relationship. He didn't mention any specific talents.

Michaels was asked about Charlie Dempsey working overseas. He's someone that has adapted very well and they've been trying to help him and everyone else be as well rounded as possible.

Michaels was asked about Drew Gulak and Gable Steveson's departure. Michaels said Gulak was a contract expiring as well as there not being a role on him for the main roster. He said there was a decision made on a business standpoint to move on.

Michaels was asked about Mia Yim's work in NXT. Michaels said she's been fantastic. He thinks from her standpoint, she's been enjoying it as well and being able to showcase herself. He's always excited when they get back people from the black and gold era. That's something she takes pride in - being part of that era. The roster is so deep and fantastic, but having veterans who are as skilled as Mia working there, it's always a huge advantage and treat. He's enjoyed having her and as long as she doesn't mind coming, he wants to use her.

Michaels was asked about WWE NXT being on the road when it goes to the CW Network. Michaels said that's one he hears as well but doesn't know it's in stone. He said being in Orlando at their home is fantastic and that's something he doesn't think they need to be out of there full-time. It's above his pay grade and he gets to focus on NXT. He put over how excited everyone is about going to Toronto this weekend. This may not seem like a big thing to some but to the younger talents, some of them have never left the country. Coming to Florida was a huge move for them. Getting the PPVs on the road is a good balance for them and he doesn't see any foreseeable changes in the future but one thing he knows that when you think something is set in WWE, it can always change.

Michaels was asked about TNA's Joe Hendry. Michaels said it was his first time meeting him. He appreciates how Hendry has generated the fan goodwill on his own, outside the box. He has a strong future.

Michaels was asked for his thoughts about the UFC Apex event and his social media profile. He said Jordynne Grace brought him the chef hat. He talked up being at the Apex. It was a positive appearance and they learned a lot about how to make it better next time.

Michaels was asked about Je'Von Evans and what it's like working with talents so young. Michaels said Evans has not given any impression he's ready or rushing to get to the main roster. He's shown some real patience. The young man you see on camera is the person you see. He's living his best life and is so extremely talented. Michaels said that he's always amazed at it and said that what he's doing is his normal. It's another day in the office for him and the future is unbelievable in terms of what he can accomplish. Michaels said that he has to remind himself and them that when you reach the "old age" of 23-24, your best days are ahead of you. He's been a joy behind the scenes. He has that patience and a wonderful attitude and Michaels hopes he never grows out of it.

Michaels was asked about Ethan Page and Shawn Spears in the main event as two Canadians. He's worked with Spears for years. Page has been phenomenal since he walked in the doors. They are having a balancing act of having their best run in the organizations they have been in and also trying to help develop and improve the talents that WWE has in NXT. He always admires the people who passes on the wisdom that they have so the business can flourish. He joked he won't hold against them because they are Cannadians.

Michaels was asked what sort of research he does on talents and outside performers coming in. He said he plays dumb but he has Twitter but doesn't spend his life on it. He said he keeps up with feedback on a daily basis. He saw Joe Hendry there on social media too. He pays attention to what comes across his timeline. He said it's a balance of trying to see what's not a fad and will stand the test of time. The social media team gives input and they run analytics. You need to have good people around you and they have young people on the creative team. It's a give and take process. He's happy with the team they have here at NXT.

Michaels was asked about not getting Kendrik Lamar vs. Drake on the show. He said when you see people in the mainstream doing something that is a reference to something you did back in the day, it's a nice compliment and makes you feel cool with your kids.

Michaels was asked about navigating in the post-WWE Draft era so far compared to past years. Michaels said it is challenging. You have the Draft going on and injuries here and there, it's always a fluid thing going on. You can't be so married to an idea or a story when you don't know what can happen tomorrow or next week. He does this the way he did his matches and probably takes it all too personally, but you can't help it. When you lay out 3-5 months of story and something takes you out of it, it can't help but make you disapppointed. Hunter helped him understand there will be ebbs and flows to all of this and that's something Michaels is still working on. HHH is fantastic at it. When something doesn't go the way you want, it can be disappointing. They have so many young talents who are adaptable and willing to do anything and veterans who have trust in the team.

Michaels was asked if outside talents coming in could be a lesson for talents who could worry about losing their spot and whether that could be a learning opportunity. He said in NXT everyone who walks in knows it's developmental and it's a rotating slot. Some talents are so new they haven't been desensitized yet the way a main roster or veteran roster would, where things might be more clearly defined. He said from a 2-3 year standpoint, you might have talents who are used regularly and may come to feel they aren't being used as a well. That can be used as a developmental tool. It's part of teaching the business and that there are things that go on there beyond just what happens in the ring. How you conduct yourself could have an impact on how you are seen going forward, so that can be a lesson in that regard. He hasn't seen it to be such a big problem here because NXT is like college.

Michaels was asked about some of the storylines with Brooks Jensen and Ridge Holland. Michaels said you always want to be sensitive while blurring the lines. Are there times people take things from them that you don't intend, sure. There was a time where people weren't sensitive to the highs and lows of depression and frustrations but he certainly is and if he feels they have gone the wrong way, they will back off and assess.

Michaels was asked about younger developmental talent getting reps and evolving when the NXT house show loops in Florida were pulled back starting at the pandemic. He was asked if there would be more. He said that from a PC standpoint, they are getting reps on smaller shows they hold within the PC. They want to do more in Florida but that's a logistical thing with venues. He's hoping the crossover aspect with other companies will help them get reps and experience different styles as well. It's an ongoing process to figure out different way to get the reps in as well as getting them different experiences and styles.

Michaels was asked about Lola Vice. He said he's careful about what he says and what is out there about all talents. There are times people are said publicly to be main roster ready but they still have things they need to work on behind the scenes. People can move up and exist on the main roster but for him, it's not about getting volume there. He doesn't want them to just be main roster ready but be someone who can bring ratings and draw money. He wants them to be more than just main roster ready. Vice has all the tools to be a main roster star but is very new and is very young. You can see the things in her that makes one say she's main roster material. He wants to take longer with people so they can excel on the main roster.

Michaels said everyone is thrilled about going to Toronto. It's the NYC/MSG of Canada. It's a big opportunity to perform in front of a big crowd.

When asked about a story Madusa told about being at another company (AEW) where she offered to help talents and they told her they didn't have to do that, Michaels said that when veterans like Ethan Page comes in, he wants to get them to the main roster but also take on a role as a mentor or teacher. If that's someone they don't want to do and say no, he can respect that. It might be better for WWE to get hurt as opposed to have someone come in and not give it their all. He doesn't mind being kicked in the nut but not make a habit of it. I don't think Michaels understood the question as it was about the talent turning down the chance to be mentored.

Michaels was asked about Kelani Jordan and how she has done since her title match. He said everyone in that ladder match pretty much could have been considered a dark horse. NXT may always have a situation where fans don't "know them as much" because they are stepping onto TV for the first time. He wants there to be people that you want to learn about. That goes into the developmental system. When you go into the main roster, it's a whole new world. When you go there, you should go back to what you first showed in NXT as opposed to just running forward. There's going to be a lot of people who don't know you so it's not a bad thing to re-establish the roots. He said Kelani is someone who is getting to establish her roots.

Michaels said he is excited about the show and thanks everyone for their coverage. He likes being kept on his toes to be ready when he is challenged or there is cynicism.