One of the regular hosts of the WWE Kickoff Shows, Sam Roberts, caused a social media firestorm last Saturday when he candidly expressed his thoughts about Bianca Belair competing for the WWE NXT Women's Championship at the NXT TakeOver: Phoenix special.
Roberts' exact words were, "We're going to get to see Shayna Baszler be dominant as she always is. We get to see Bianca Belair finally step up and get the opportunity to challenge for the women's championship. It's... I...j... it's not... I mean, I don't think it... it's not Take-Takeover worthy. Bianca Belair, she's a good athlete but look at the list of women's champions. You got Shayna Baszler, you have Charlotte, you have Sasha Banks, you have Asuka, you have Kairi Sane. This is a list of the elite women in wrestling and Bianca Belair is nowhere close to that list. Takeover has become what Takeover has become. There's only 5 matches on this card and we're going to sit here on the panel and act like there's a possibility that one of the most skilled women in the history of NXT needs to worry about another woman hitting her with her ponytail.
"She's not [ready]," Roberts continued. "She's not going to win. She doesn't have a chance to win the match. You know she doesn't have a chance. Even you [McAfee], with those rocks clinging in your head, you know Bianca Belair does not have a shot at beating Shayna Baszler. And when we walk into a Takeover knowing that the challenger doesn't have a shot to win the championship, we're wasting a match. Bianca Belair is a great athlete. I would love to see this match on NXT TV. Put it on NXT TV. She'll be champion one day, but you know what day she won't be champion? Today. She's not ready."
On his podcast, Notsam Wrestling, Roberts directly addressed the comments he made about Belair at the recent TakeOver special. Roberts holds firm in what he said last weekend, and he refuses to apologize to Belair for expressing how he felt in the moment. Roberts admitted that there were conversations afterward about the way he went about delivering the message but he wouldn't delve any further in to the details of the conversations. For Roberts, the situation simply, "is what it is."
"So a lot of people have a lot of opinions about it, a lot of people upset, a lot of people agree, a lot of people don't agree, a lot of accusations being thrown my way," Roberts said. "Look, WWE invites me to those Kickoff Shows and they ask me to give my opinion on things. On Saturday night, I was not fed an opinion in my ear, I know that's one of the theories. I've never been fed an opinion in my ear. They wouldn't bring me to give their opinion, I'm not good at that. I just go on and they just ask me to be me, and give my opinion.
"I had a crisis of conscious in that moment," Roberts continued. "I felt like I was just going along with the show, so I decided to say exactly how I felt in that moment. I know that Mark Henry has started a campaign saying that I owe Bianca Belair an apology. I certainly will not be apologizing to Bianca Belair because my opinion is my opinion. Do I think that she deserves to be at TakeOver after her performance? You'll have to ask me at the end of March. The next TakeOver is in April, I will tell you in April if Bianca Belair, in my opinion, deserves to be at TakeOver. But I found that match - at the beginning of TakeOver, it felt underwhelming to me. So, I talked about it.
"There were people after the show who had conversations with me about the way I said what I said," Roberts admitted. "But the fact is, I said what I said. You know, it kind of is what it is. It's exactly as you saw it and that's kind of it. Was everybody thrilled with it? No, that's what I mean about having conversations. Those are, again, maybe things that I don't exactly want to get in to at this moment, however, we'll see how things go as we move forward."
You can listen to the full podcast above. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Notsam Wrestling with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.