Earlier this week, rumors suggested that NXT superstar Damian Priest was due to be called up to Friday Night SmackDown, where he was supposed to be joining the ongoing storyline between top villains Roman Reigns and Jey Uso and babyface Kevin Owens. At that time, it was reported that Priest’s debut was scheduled for last week’s episode of the blue brand’s titular show but ultimately postponed at the last minute. A new report, however, has filled in the blanks on why the call-up was nixed.
As cited by Wrestling Inc. on Thursday, Dave Meltzer provided an update on Priest’s status on the latest Wrestling Observer Radio, explaining that the promising superstar was singled out as the NXT talent who could step up as a debuting babyface on SmackDown. Supposedly, the plan was for Priest to partner with Owens and establish himself as his best friend, with both men teaming up against Reigns and Uso.
Although Priest was apparently at last week’s SmackDown tapings and “ready to go,” Owens was the one who suggested that it made “no sense” for the would-be newcomer to play the role of his best friend. The Canadian grappler reportedly stressed that he and Priest have nothing in common and made alternate suggestions on how the angle could play out, with Reigns agreeing that there “wasn’t much logic” behind the decision.
Given the Universal Champion’s “pull” backstage, that was enough to convince officials to pull the plug on the idea and possibly have Priest make his first main roster appearance at another time, Meltzer pointed out.
As further noted, Priest is “lost” on NXT at the present, especially following his loss to Karrion Kross in the recently concluded “New Year’s Evil” special episode of the black-and-gold brand’s eponymous show. He is, however, apparently still expected to be called up at some point in the future, though it remains unclear when his debut will take place following the cancellation of his angle with Owens, Reigns, and Uso. According to Meltzer, he was, as of Wednesday morning, penciled in for a call-up to Monday Night Raw, though that too, is still unconfirmed.
Priest is not the only NXT wrestler who may be making their first appearance on one of WWE’s two main roster brands in the coming weeks. In November, Meltzer hinted that former NXT Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley could soon be getting called up, though she has yet to make her official debut on either the red or the blue brand.