MITB press conference: Levesque says UK WrestleMania ‘difficult,’ NXT Europe delayed, World Heavyweight Title would not ‘finish the story’ for Cody

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Cody Rhodes

Cody Rhodes was the first to appear at the WWE Money in the Bank press conference.

He mentioned that UK tours are a “special thing” and added that he experienced that when he was on his “little excursion” from WWE.

Rhodes added that “London for WrestleMania would be amazing,” commenting:

I don’t know if John knew something I didn’t know, though. I thought he was about to say it’s happening. Like, “Oh wow”. He’s the man, so John can say what he wants. Again, though, he might know something we all don’t know. So I hope that does happen for London. That would be very special and I’d be all about it.

On some of the fan chants, Cody said:

I am of the belief that if the crowd — and this is an area where I disagreed with my father actually — but I’m of the belief if the crowd wants to play, let ’em, let it ride, let it happen.

Now, be mindful, sometimes you got — I particularly have a younger fan base — a lot of young kids. I don’t know if all these chants are acceptable for them. So, if you guys are gearing up as London, as the United Kingdom, gearing up for a potential WrestleMania, maybe keep that in mind.

Rhodes was then asked whether winning the World Heavyweight Championship would be “finishing the story.” He answered:

I don’t wanna be a downer, but no. Now, winning the World Heavyweight Championship would be outstanding, it would be amazing. It is the title on the flagship show, Monday Night Raw. And what Seth is doing with it is a special thing. And you’re going to see that title will mean far more in five minutes. And then in 10 minutes — every second, it gains equity.

But finishing the story was always, always, about the title that my dad didn’t get. And I’m not going to spoil anything because the Peacock people will murder me. But you’ll probably hear some news about my documentary at some point soon, finally, because these people have been filming me for gosh knows how long. And it’s covered a lot in there, as far as that’s what the story was. He really did hold it, and he held it in the Garden, and it ate me up. He never got it. So that’s finishing the story.

Damian Priest, IYO SKY and Bayley

Damian Priest, IYO SKY and Bayley came out next and largely spoke in character. However, Priest was asked what it was like to be the first Puerto Rican since Pedro Morales to have a real opportunity to win a WWE world title. He said:

Being able to represent your culture, your heritage is always something important, especially for me. You know, Puerto Ricans love them a good flag. So, if I could represent it, it’s an honor. And to your point, being able to be the first Puerto Rican to do it since Pedro, it’s wild, and it’s because there’s been so many Puerto Rican legends since.

Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez

Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez were out next. Again, the pair spoke in character. They said they would defend the titles any time, anywhere, whether on Raw, SmackDown or NXT.

Seth Rollins

Seth Rollins then came to the microphone. He said that every time he defends the World Heavyweight Championship, he is “building it up”. He added:

We knew from day one that that was gonna be the goal. You look at what Roman’s done for the Universal Title. It’s very special. There’s no comparison.

We are working every single day, whether it’s here tonight, whether it’s Newcastle, whether it’s Sheffield, doesn’t matter where we go, what we’re doing, this title’s gonna be on the line anytime I can defend it, and that’s part of raising that prestige. Very old school in that way, you know? Very Ric Flair, very Bret Hart, very Triple H. And so that’s the way I’m going to do it, by hook or by crook, man. I’m going to fight, leave it all out there, and do my best.

Rollins also mentioned the NXT Champion Carmelo Hayes, saying:

I think he’s super talented. I would love to get in the ring with him. I think our styles would mesh really well.

And there’s just a ton of cats down there. If I don’t say Nathan Frazer [who was trained by Rollins], he’s gonna beat me up. He’s gonna give me hell. I mean, there’s a lot of up and coming talent down there. Carmelo’s the one that jumps off the page to me though.

Paul Levesque

Finally, Paul Levesque took to the platform. Before taking questions, he praised the UK fans and added:

I’ve been coming here for a long time. And it’s always been one of my favorite places to be. Anytime there was a European tour, you knew it was going to be a blast. You knew that everybody that came out was going to want to get crazy. It’s just only increased over the years. Your creative chants have increased — some for the better, some not. But they’ve increased, and it’s always a blast.

Without providing hard numbers, he claimed that Money in the Bank 2023 was the “highest-grossing arena event in the history of WWE”, and that Friday night’s event was the highest-grossing SmackDown show in WWE history.

Levesque heaped praise on the roster, name-checking almost everyone. He also got a few laughs when, in reference to the Bloodline story, he said, “What is it that you kids call it, cinema?”

He said that a “rolled ankle” was the worst injury anyone had sustained during the show and that the roster was healthy.

The first question was whether WrestleMania would come to London.

Levesque answered:

First of all, I’d like to say thank you to John Cena for putting me in an unenviable position right now. No matter what I say, I’m gonna get battered for it.

Look, as I said earlier, I have been coming here since the early ‘90s, and it’s spectacular. Some of my favorite events here ever, and the favorite things I did in my career have happened here, even sometimes without the benefit of television or it being broadcast anywhere else. But we used to do the — what was it called? — Insurrection or whatever we did here, years ago here, and they were always amazing events. The crowd here, the people here, the reaction here is always off the charts.

As far as WrestleMania goes, it’s tough. I wish it was that easy. I wish it was as easy to say as, “Like, man, that’s phenomenal there. Let’s go.” We’d be going to a lot of places.

But I can say this. If you look at this year alone, 2023 alone, four of the last five premium live events that we have done have been in international destinations. And you can look back in the years prior to that, skip the COVID one, but look into the years prior to that. It’s not really been a common occurrence.

Montreal sold out record sales. Puerto Rico sold out record sales. Saudi sold out record sales. London here sold out record sales. It bodes well for international. We are a global company. We intend to be a global company. We intend to be global. So never say never for any of it, right? The intent is there. It’s a lot more difficult than it appears, but the intent is there. And if there’s a way to get a lot of these international events done, we’re hell-bent on doing them.

He was then asked about Drew McIntyre’s return and speculation about his status during his absence. Levesque said:

It’s always a funny thing, the amount of speculation that happens around things. I read stuff. We see stuff all the time, right? Like, 75% of it is completely off base. If Drew had an issue, it’s news to me. He just was out with an injury and getting some stuff fixed. And while he was out, he had something else he wanted to get fixed. So we did it. And here he is. He’s an amazing performer. He is one of the highlight superstars in this time frame in this era. Thrilled to have him back.

Hopefully he’s here for the rest of his career. That’s how I feel about it. He and I speak about it all the time. When all this stuff was coming up, it’s funny, we were talking on the phone here and there, and he’d be like, just laughing. Like, “Oh my God, have you read this now?” It just is what it is.

Finally, Levesque was asked about the status of NXT Europe. The question was couched as whether “the UFC takeover” had slowed things down, which drew some laughs.

He said:

Yeah, it’s just slowed down the process. I think — I’m terrible with time — at some point, I don’t know, the end of the year, last year, whatever it is, we said in 2023 it would happen.

Not having a crystal ball to see where everything was headed in that moment in time, obviously, this transition with this merger with UFC, with Endeavor, and TKO, it’s changed the time frame. But I think the intent is still the same.

I mentioned it under the premise of WrestleMania and premium live events going global. We’re a global company. We’re looking to be everywhere. And I think as you pointed out, there are a lot of amazing talent here internationally. And we’d love to explore that and give them opportunities to shine on the biggest stage possible and see what we can do with that. It’s just going to take a little bit of time.

About Neal Flanagan 775 Articles
Based in Northern Ireland, Neal Flanagan is a former newspaper journalist and copy editor. In addition to reporting for POST Wrestling, he co-hosts The Wellness Policy podcast with Wai Ting and Jordan Goodman.