NXT is the viable alternative to WWE programming most haven’t had since the days of WCW. While there are other federations around of worth — ROH, New Japan — many of those are simply too hard to find or not available at all. So for the many who value wrestling with a splash of entertainment over the complete opposite, NXT is the best thing since sliced-bread — which makes you wonder what was the best thing before bread was sliced.
There is an issue that is built in to how NXT works. It is a developmental system. Many of the performers on the roster are using NXT as a stepping stone of sorts to get to the main roster. Because of that, NXT is sometimes thin with talent. This became rather evident in their main event scene after Kevin Owens, Hideo Itami, Bo Dallas, Neville, Sami Zayn and a few others were absent from NXT due to injury or call-ups in a rather short period of time.
While Hunter and company did a great job replenishing the supply of talent rather quickly, there was a brief stint of relying on green talent to step up their games. Green, meaning, they simply weren’t ready to be on our picture-boxes or our Internet streams yet. Those performers, per NXT law, stepped up and there was little drop-off in the quality of the product.
As a company, WWE has been apparently attempting to fix this problem by way of a long-term outlook. Bringing in guys like Samoa Joe, with many other notable indie wrestlers rumored, and letting them know that their place within the company is to be in the developmental system with the young talent, helping them develop, and being the consistent faces of the NXT product as guys get called to Raw.
Seriously great stuff. A tip of our hats should be given to the WWE on a regular basis for making NXT into what it is today. All things considered, it is the best domestic in-ring product we have available. That is saying something.
The bad news, however, is that the WWE seems not to know what they are doing whenever they bring up NXT talent. At least not with a long picture plan in place.
Tyler Breeze was called up only a little over a month ago. He is currently jobbing after originally being put over Dolph Ziggler. Bo Dallas was the first guy directly associated with NXT to get a call-up. After getting an initial push, and as his gimmick was finally starting to get over, he is now in Jobberville, USA. Neville, while now finally having an angle to play with, spent the vast part of his time on the main roster fighting Stardust because superheros or something.
Outside of Kevin Owens, there hasn’t been a true breakout star that came out of NXT. Sure, The Shield were all in NXT at some point, but no one closely thinks of them as NXT-bred guys. So don’t come at me with the semantics.
WWE’s inability to do anything with NXT talent on the main roster has become alarming. Now, it can be said some of it is the talent’s fault. The Accession thing was a bust not only because of the gimmick, but because the two are very limited. That said, Bo Dallas and Neville are talented. What is the dilly?
It’s actually counterproductive, too. If the WWE isn’t going to be able to do something with them on a tangible level, making them wrestlers of consequence of sorts, why are they thinning out the NXT roster?
Basically, what has happened, in summary form:
- WWE thins out the roster to bring over performers from NXT to Raw
- It does nothing with them
- NXT’s roster remains thin until fixed (which can’t always be fixed; talent pool will eventually dry up)
- The wrestlers who got called up are floundering around and barely on TV
- It isn’t helping either product.
What’s the endgame here? If the point of NXT is to help create WWE-ready stars, but it isn’t working, maybe it is time to treat it as a separate brand. You know, less of a developmental system and more of yet another WWE branded product onto its own.
Obviously something like that comes with complications. WWE would have to pay NXT talent more. The pipeline of future Superstars would also dry up quickly. But if the system of making future stars isn’t working on the next level, but they are true stars on the roster which they are being plucked from, why bother?
NXT is truly a special product. This can’t be stated enough. None of the sentences above were meant as some sort of slight against it. Nor do I think any of the talent is unworthy of being on the main roster. What I do think is, though, that the WWE is currently biting its nose to spite its face by calling these performers up and consistently dropping the ball.
It is simple, really. If WWE wants to call a guy up, make sure it is for a reason. Don’t simply do it because you feel like some arbitrary sense of time has gone by. Unless WWE feels like they can become fully functioning, mattering talent on the main roster, let them shine in NXT. And there’s actually nothing wrong with that — because as time has gone on, being in NXT might be (outside of money) the more appealing federation to work under anyway.