The NXT roster is spreading its wings with their Heatwave event this Sunday night in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. For many on the current roster it will be the very first time they have travelled outside the United States. NXT itself hasn’t been back to Toronto since NXT TakeOver: Toronto in 2019.

“Everybody’s thrilled about coming to Toronto! They really are! Toronto is sort of like New York and Madison Square Garden. For us down here in NXT that’s a really big opportunity because it’s just a great crowd to perform in front of,” Shawn Michaels, NXT’s Senior Vice President of Talent Development Creative, told Slam Wrestling in the NXT Heatwave Zoom media call.

Michaels explained what a three-hour plane trip to Canada means for some of those who reside in NXT’s homebase of Florida.

“I know in the big scheme of things that may not seem like much to even you guys, the wily veterans who have been doing this for so long, but you’re talking about like Je’Von Evans, a 20-year-old kid who has never been out of the country. What he said last night on the show, he had to go get his passport and all that, there were a number of people that were like that…They don’t travel that much. Coming to Florida was a huge move for them. Even getting out on these PLEs is just extremely exciting for our talent and for us,” he said.

The aftermath of the contract signing between Trick Williams, Je’Von Evans, Ethan Page and Shawn Spears. Courtesy of NXT.

The Heatwave main event will have NXT World Heavyweight Champion Trick Williams facing Je’Von Evans, Ethan Page and Shawn Spears in a Fatal Four-Way match. Page is originally from Stoney Creek, Ontario and Spears is from St. Catharines, Ontario, which are both approximately only an hour away from Toronto.

“They’ve been there fantastic. Shawn Spears is someone that I worked with in NXT, many, many years ago. He’s was a great guy then and is a great guy now. He’s just been phenomenal coming in the door. I appreciate both of them…They are having what I believe are certainly their best runs in majority of the organizations they’ve been in and I’m hoping to continue that but also understanding because of their experience, and what they bring to the table, they’re also out there trying to help us develop and improve a lot of these young talent that we have coming to NXT. So, I think the world of both of them. This can be and needs to be sometimes a very self-centered kind of business when you’re out there. This is the way these guys make their living but when you come to NXT and you step into a role like those two are stepping into you have to be able to do two different things at once. You do your best that you can do for your career but at the same time pass on the knowledge and the wisdom that you do have so that this business as a whole can continue to flourish. The maturity that they both bring to the table and the leadership qualities is hard for us to beat so I appreciate both a great deal,” he said of the two Canucks. “I get somebody again like a Shawn Spears or an Ethan page that comes in here with a ton of experience. My goal is still to get them to the main roster and get them moved up to a spot where they can begin to thrive and do well. I look at it as a two fold. I’m going to ask them to take on this other role as a mentor, as a leader, as a teacher.”

Michaels told Slam that there may be some veterans who don’t have the time or the energy to take some of the young stars under their wings all the time and he appreciates that.

“I don’t mind people kicking me in the nuts. I would rather them do that before they come in and work for the company on a regular basis. So then instead I kick them in the nuts every week, every Tuesday,” he laughed.

HBK has certainly had a love, hate relationship with Canada over the years. He promises not to let the past affect the present or future though when it comes to Page and Spears.

“I promise not to hold it against them, the fact that they’re Canadians. Canada’s always loved HBK right? I’m sooooo going get in trouble again,” he said sighing and then laughing.

On the call Michaels also spoke about:

NXT’s relationship with TNA:

“We are very excited about that collaborations, and all of the collaborations going on here between NXT and the WWE as a whole, TNA. My understanding is that AJ Styles will also be working in Japan with NOAH and we have some crossover with Bloodsport. This is a new time and a new era in the WWE. I am very excited about it and here in NXT we are excited about the TNA crossovers as well. At this point of time there is not a whole lot to add. I am excited about how it all has gone and excited about how it is going to go in the future. At this point right now I cannot speak to you on specifics on how we are going to be moving forward with that.”

About how William Regal’s son, Charlie Dempsey, has been coming along:

Charlie Dempsey has some large shoes to fill. Courtesy: NXT.

“Charlie’s been a joy to work with. He’s William Regal son. I think he certainly has some of his dad’s characteristics, which are fantastic. One of the things I really enjoy about Charlie is that ability to crossover with him. He’s very adaptable. If you’re talking about possible collaborations with Bloodsport those are areas where I think Charlie really thrives. One of the things I think people have seen lately from an NXT standpoint is finding out how much of that sort of entertainment quality that he has, that his father had, that ability to not just be a very serious and credible wrestler’s wrestler but also seeing how much there is in the area of a sports entertainer. I think that’s something that he’s really embraced as of late. I’m always a fan of that kind of stuff…That’s one of the things we try to focus on because you just never know when that call up comes. You just don’t ever know really what creative they may put you in and we just want to make our talent here as well-rounded as we possibly can and at least give them maybe an idea of some of the things that might be asked to them in the future. Charlie is now somebody that’s been adapting to that very well.”

His thoughts on Joe Hendry’s impact in NXT:

“Clear you could see what it was. It was my first time meeting Joe. Even for me not being the most skilled social media guy you see his “turnaround” and stuff all the time from a social media standpoint. Clearly, he is a bright young man in the short dealings I have had with him. I like him a great deal. Nothing would thrill me more to have another opportunity to work with Joe Hendry in the future. I think he would tell you the same thing. He is someone who wants to grow and move up. I have nothing to add at this time but I think he is a bright young man who has a bright future. I appreciate the way he sort of generated his own creative on his own. I think that always speaks well of somebody who thinks outside of the box. He has obviously done that. I always appreciate the intellect it takes to grow outside of the wheelhouse that they are in.”

His thoughts on the evolution of Lola Vice: 

Lola Vice taking on Shayna Baszler in an Underground Match at NXT Battleground. Courtesy: NXT.

“I just feel Lola is one of those people who does have all the ability and all the tools there to be a main roster star. She is still very new and she is still very young. I guess she is one of those people I guess you would say is so special. You can see the things in her that would make someone say she is main roster material. I would just like to get her the best equipped that I can so she goes to the main roster and thrives on that roster. That is the difference in me wanting to take a little longer with people than what other people might want to take.”

Here is the full NXT Heatwave card for this Sunday:

Pre-show: Karmen Petrovic and Arianna Grace vs. Jacy Jayne and Jazmyn Nyx
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Nathan Frazer & Axiom (c)  vs. Chase U
NXT Women’s North American Championship Match: Kelani Jordan (c) vs. Sol Ruca
NXT North American Championship Match: Oba Femi (c) vs. Wes Lee
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Roxanne Perez (c) vs. Lola Vice
NXT Championship Match: Trick Williams (c) vs. Je’Von Evans vs. Ethan Page vs. Shawn Spears

TOP PHOTO: Frankie Kazarian of TNA drops by to visit with NXT’s Shawn Michaels. Twitter photo