When the participants were announced for the NXT Iron Survivor Challenge, few expected to see Grayson Waller close out the contest drinking out of his shoe with the word “winner” before his name on the title card. Carmelo Hayes was in the match, as was JD McDonagh, and even dark horse entrants like Axiom and Joe Gacy were more popular picks than the host of “The Grayson Waller Effect,” and yet, in the end, Waller ended up with three falls after his name when the next performer only had two, and after running away for the better part of 90 seconds, the match was won, and the Sydney, New South Wales, Australia native was the first-ever male performer – and second winner overall after Roxanne Perez – to be named the Iron Survivor.
But how did he do it? Fortunately, Waller stopped by the backstage area after his NXT Deadl1ne win to explain just that to Kelly Kincaid.
“I’m not surprised! Are you surprised, Kelly?” Waller asked. “It seems like everyone is surprised but Grayson Waller. Cause since day one I’ve been telling the world that I run this, that I run NXT, That I’m the best here and no one wanted to believe me. Was anyone talking about me in this match tonight? Was anyone saying that I’d be Iron Survivor? No, everyone wanted Melo. What about JD huh? Axium may get lucky, or what about Joe Gacy? No one said Grayson Waller, well guess what? Grayson Waller once again did what it takes, and I’m not surprised.”
“And Bron Breakker, the man around here, alright? Everyone loves you, everyone respects you, but I don’t and I showed you that just then. I’m so sick of Bron, Kelly, I’m so sick of Bron. For the last year every poster, every advertisement, every action figure, every card is Bron Breakker and it should be Grayson Waller. And I feel disrespected and unlike everyone else, I’m not going to respect him. I’m not going to care who is Dad is, I don’t care who his Uncle is, I should be the face of this brand and instead of saying it, now I’m gonna take it. Bron Breakker, I’m gonna take everything from you because that is the Grayson Waller Effect.”
Now, to be fair, not everyone counted Waller out of the Iron Survivor Challenge, as yours truly actually predicted that the “21st Century Success Story” would win the match, but that’s mostly because, reportedly, WWE has big plans for the 32-year-old star.
.@GraysonWWE wants to take everything from @bronbreakkerwwe #NXTDeadline #IronSurvivor pic.twitter.com/Ht40lNmL6j
— WWE (@WWE) December 11, 2022
WWE has huge plans for Grayson Waller outside of NXT.
Talking to sources within WWE via Wrestle Votes, Louis Dangoor of Give Me Sport reported that Paul “Triple H” Levesque and company have big plans for Waller in WWE when his NXT run is done, with a “Kevin Owens-esque” debut potentially in his future.
“WWE really likes Grayson Waller and really see something in him,” Dangoor’s source told him. “He may stay down in NXT, just so they can try to figure out something big for him, like Kevin Owens coming in and beating John Cena. They like him a lot, so that’s one guy that they’re gonna try to do something serious with.”
Now, to Waller’s credit, he technically has appeared on Raw before, interacting with A.J. Styles in a segment back in December of 2021, and based on his conversations with ESPN’s Beyond The Lead podcast, it sure sounds like the experience was formidable.
“My first experience being there, all of a sudden, you’re in the ring with a mic on Monday Night Raw and it just happens,” Waller said. “You don’t really have that moment to think about what’s happening, especially when you’re performing. I didn’t really have time to look at how happy the crowd was or bask the moment in. I kind of just went out and did it and later on, sat at the hotel and was like ‘wow. I was just on Monday Night Raw.’ TV days are crazy. They are long, constantly moving, things are always happening. You never really have a moment to sit and reflect or think about what you’re going to do. You kind of just have to be ready to go. They kind of just threw me out there in a way, too. I wasn’t supposed to have a microphone that night. Then things changed during the day and, all of a sudden, I did. I just knew, if you put a microphone in my hands, it’s magic. There’s something about, I don’t know what it is, but I can talk. If you put a microphone in my hand, I’m going to make TV magic. I’m very glad I got the opportunity to do that, especially, across from A.J. Styles, who was someone that I was a huge fan of when I was a wrestling fan. Being in there with him was wild. I look at that photo and think, 10-year-old me would be like, ‘that makes no sense.”
Could Waller beat Breakker, run NXT for half a year or so, and then make the jump to RAW or SmackDown to run that brand too? Only time will tell, but things are certainly pointing in that direction.