Former NXT North American Champion JONAH, f.k.a. Bronson Reed, was on a recent episode of The Wrestling Inc. Daily. JONAH reflected on his WWE release and his WWE career with Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman. Hausman asked JONAH if his early work in Japan helped him get on WWE’s radar.

“My first contract for Pro Wrestling NOAH, at the time in Japan, was 2013, and then midway through 2014 was my first tryout with WWE. It definitely helped me out,” JONAH stated. “It helped me get seen by them, and obviously, when they do go and see talent, they always have information on everyone. So they can see who’s done what, and a lot of the other Australian people at the time hadn’t done anything like that. So I was very fortunate, and then from there, they kept an open dialogue with me, telling me what they wanted to see from me. It wasn’t a no, but it wasn’t a yes, and that took a few years before they actually did sign me.”

2014 was around the time when top stars like Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe were signed to NXT. JONAH spoke further on what it was that WWE wanted from him during that time.

“It seems like what they want is constantly changing. I think, at the moment, if you look at NXT 2.0, me in 2014 would have fit perfectly there,” JONAH pointed out. “I was younger, maybe a little less polished, something that they could mold, whereas when they were seeing me in 2014, they wanted people that were polished. They wanted the top of the top of indie wrestlers. So that was their directive. They said, ‘Get out there more, go wrestle more,’ which I did. I ended up wrestling here in the States. I ended up touring all around Europe, in the UK, and more in Japan, whereas now, I think that’s sort of changed. Their directive is a little bit more on athletes.”

NXT’s growing popularity helped it get on USA Network, run live, and run for two hours. However, NXT is now NXT 2.0, turning itself back to a more developmental brand. JONAH discussed if there was ever tension between Vince McMahon and Triple H over the changes NXT went through.

“At first, no. The time I came in, we were still doing just tapings at Full Sail, and then it ended up getting its USA Network deal and going on cable,” JONAH recalled. “So they really did push it, and it did seem like we were a third brand. That’s what Shawn, that’s what everyone was saying. ‘This is a third brand. You don’t need to go to RAW or SmackDown anymore. We’re going to focus on this being a big third show,’ obviously, given that we have TV time.

“For that first year of TV time, I think everyone backstage saw it as ‘hey, we’re NXT. We’re something different. We’re still part of WWE but something different. But we’re focusing on trying to make this great,’ and it seemed like that’s what it was. It seemed like Vince didn’t really care so much, and it was just Hunter’s baby. But in this year, these last six months or so, I think that’s all changed and some frustration definitely has grown backstage. I’ve seen it firsthand.”

It is believed that NXT losing the Wednesday Night War to AEW is the main cause as to why NXT is undergoing a major shift. JONAH gave his thoughts on that idea and revealed what he had heard about The Wednesday Night War backstage.

“I’m not 100% too sure. I know Hunter and some of the top guys would say, ‘We’re not in direct competition. We’re focusing on our own thing. We’re just trying to make our own product as good as possible.’ There always was that bit of competition, and I don’t know what the higher ups thought of that, thought of us, obviously, losing to AEW week in and week out. But we were still putting on great TV. And I don’t know if they just thought, maybe we weren’t, but my whole thing is, they didn’t watch the product, so how did they know? So to then completely revamp it, how do you know that this is now going to be successful if you didn’t watch what was happening before?”

You can follow JONAH on Twitter @JONAHISHERE

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