According to Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the main roster call-up of Damian Priest was nixed by the objections of Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns.
Prior to NXT New Year’s Evil on January 6, news suddenly broke of a NXT talent that was meant to debut on WWE’s blue brand on New Year’s Day. Though no names were initially mentioned, the rumour was that former NXT North American Champion, Damian Priest, was being promoted from the black and gold brand.
Now, Dave Meltzer has taken to the latest edition of The Wrestling Observer Radio, to tell the story behind his call-up on Thursday December 31, 2020, but also why the plan was scrapped due to the protestation of the brand’s top stars:
“They had decided…someone had decided with this idea of, ‘We need to make stars on SmackDown. We we’ve ruined everyone on SmackDown…’ I don’t think actually think anyone said we’ve ruined anyone on SmackDown but it’s kind of like, inherent, ‘We need new babyface stars.’ We all know that. So it’s kinds like, somebody was asked and it was like, ok, who can be the next new babyface in NXT that can come to the main roster? And the guy was Damian Priest.”
The story, as Meltzer tells it, is that Priest was meant to be Owens’ saviour before being revealed as his best friend. However, that didn’t go down well with the host of The Kevin Owens Show or WWE Universal Champion, Roman Reigns:
“So they had a story where it was supposed to be Damian Priest was Kevin Owens’ best friend and he’s helping him against Roman Reigns and Jey Uso. In fact they were actually going to do a tag match on the show Friday night. And Damian Priest is there and ready and Kevin Owens essentially said, ‘It makes no sense for him to be my best friend. What do we have in common? Why would he be my best friend? I mean we could do it, but why is he my best friend?’
So Roman Reigns agreed and since it was Roman Reigns it was nixed. And I don’t know where Heyman stood on it but Roman was the one that got it…it was nixed. So we got what we got and Damian Priest is lost because he is going to the main roster or a main roster. As of this morning it was later this month on Raw. But he was supposed to start on Friday.”
Though it seems like Damian Priest will no longer be the face that Friday Night SmackDown feel they need to freshen their product, the NXT star is main roster bound and could make his debut as one the entrants in the 30-Man Royal Rumble Match on January 31.
At NXT New Year’s Evil, Damian Priest fell to Karrion Kross in a hard-hitting opener which many are calling his swansong from the black and gold brand.