Shawn Michaels Talks WWE NXT Becoming a Hybrid of Its Past Two Eras, Bron Breakker and Halloween Havoc (Exclusive)

There's a lot of buzz surrounding WWE's NXT brand at the moment. The show recently shook up its TV presentation again, dropping the "2.0" label from its name and changing its logo and commentating team. The changes made some fans hopeful that the "Black and Gold Era" of the late 2010s could be returning, but Shawn Michaels explained in a recent interview with ComicBook that this isn't the case. Instead, he explained how fans should expect a "hybrid" product that resembles both the "Black and Gold" and "2.0" eras.

"I certainly don't want to undersell anything, but I don't know that it's a new era where there's a big change," Michaels said. "Certainly, there was the Black and Gold, there was 2.0 and now we have, I think what I guess is a hybrid. I mean, we don't want this NXT to really have to be defined as anything other than your NXT, to be perfectly honest. I don't want this to be Hunter's or Vince's or even mine for that matter. This is the NXT that belongs to the men and women of NXT that come through our system and to those passionate and loyal fans that watch us some support us, to be perfectly honest."

"This line of work, the WWE and the wrestling business as a whole was always about fun and enjoyment and entertainment, and that's what it's going to get back to. I don't know if that's been missing for the last several years, but the one thing that we're all excited about is that we are looking to kick a— and have a great deal of fun and enjoyment for the years to come," he added. "And that's honestly, I guess, I don't know if that's a catchphrase or if that's a mission statement, but this is just an NXT that's excited about developing the young men and women that are going to be the superstars, the Raw and SmackDown superstars of tomorrow."

Check out the highlights from our interview with "The Heartbreak Kid" below! NXT airs this week on the USA Network at 8 p.m. ET and the brand's next major event, NXT Halloween Havoc, airs live this Saturday night on Peacock! 

When it comes to teaching and developing wrestlers, how much has your approach changed from when you were coaching at the Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy back in the late 90s?

I'll say this, most of the overall coaching aspects lie with Matt Bloom, who is a phenomenal head coach at the Performance Center. But the great thing that Hunter set up many, many years ago is that we cover everything. You've got people from a number of different eras, a number of different styles, and we're continuing to build on that. I think all of us would admit that the business, like every sports or entertainment genre, continues to change and grow, and we have to continue to change and grow with it. I will say that one thing that I know we do have in common, what I know we do at the Performance Center and we definitely did at the Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy is we don't put anybody in a box. The one thing that we like to do is make it a collaboration between ourselves and the individual talent. That's something that we are obviously implementing in great, a great success.

...Obviously, we teach the basics, we teach the fundamentals, but then you're allowed to grow into the style of the superstar you want to become. We don't want to paint you as this of how you just have to stay in that box. We want them to be able to find who they are, experiment, take chances, take risks, and that's what NXT is for. 

The big headliner for Halloween Havoc is that triple threat for the NXT Championship between Bron Breakker, JD McDonagh and Ilja Dragunov. How excited are you to have Dragunov finally on the main NXT roster?

I don't think anybody would be surprised to know that we're thrilled to have Ilja here as we are with so many of our UK stars. But he is obviously an incredibly special young man, a very unique talent, to say the least. And look, I'm excited because first of all, I've watched Ilja and JD go at it before. It's nothing short of spectacular every time. Then you add Braun in there. I'm anxious to see the intensity between Ilja and Braun. I think that's going to be a fantastic match. 

Bron recently appeared on Table for 3 with Rick and Scott Steiner and the two kind of poked fun at him for not using the Steiner name. Do you think it'll help or hurt him to eventually use it?

I think Bron is going to be incredibly successful no matter what you want to call him. He's a very bright, talented, unbelievably wonderful young man. I'll say this, I think now he's established Bron Breakker pretty darn well. Let's put it this way — what we wanted to make sure that we did in NXT is not run from it or pretend like it wasn't there. And I think that's what has helped him, I think, made that transition into a new name and character a bit easier. We didn't pretend like it wasn't there and he wasn't a Steiner by bringing his father out and making reference to who he was and where he came from. I think that's made it a little bit easier.

We're always going to do that. We're never going to pretend like someone wasn't who they were. But those are challenges that we often run into. I, don't know how many of those will have to take in the future, but certainly the WWE has their way of wanting to do things. It's been pretty darn successful for the last 40 years, 40 or 50 years. I don't know that if something isn't broke that you need to fix it.