It looks like cost-cutting during the pandemic is less important than trying to spike a rating for NXT, as WWE has announced the return of Kurt Angle to act as a special referee in the match between Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher next week. Angle was one of the dozens of WWE workers laid off or furloughed in April days before WWE released a financial report revealing the company is on track to make record profits this year, regardless of the coronavirus pandemic. However, AEW has been killing NXT in the ratings, with the latest ratings showing NXT dropping back outside the top 50 shows on cable.
A press release from WWE provides the details:
Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher are stepping into the cage, and Kurt Angle will be joining them. The WWE Hall of Famer and Olympic Gold Medalist will serve as special guest referee for The Original Bro's Cage Fight against Thatcher this Wednesday night on NXT.
Thatcher debuted as Riddle's partner in place of Pete Dunne, who was unable to appear to defend the NXT Tag Team Championship. Riddle & Thatcher seemed to catch lightning in a bottle, fending off The Undisputed ERA's Bobby Fish & Roderick Strong to retain the titles.
But The Newly-Bros imploded in less than a month and lost the titles to Imperium, with Riddle's easy-going demeanor apparently driving Thatcher mad. The Original Bro craftily rolled up Thatcher two weeks ago to win their first bout against each other, though the tension was far from settled.
Thatcher called for a match that could only be won by knockout or tap-out. Riddle one-upped him, proposing that they meet inside a cage. But what kind of a cage exactly does Riddle — who is familiar with fighting inside chain link as a former UFC welterweight — have in mind? And what sort of impact might Angle have?
Find out when it all goes down Wednesday night at 8/7 C on USA Network!
WWE is no doubt hoping an angle appearance for a big match can turn things around in the ratings, but that remains to be seen. That being said, it will be nice to Angle get involved with NXT where he can hopefully be less micromanaged and as a consequence have a slightly less embarrassing run than his final one on the WWE main roster or his stint as Raw general manager.