Hello readers – sorry to have left you hanging after RAW on Monday. Been a strange past few days. I’m back on track now, though! We’re going to have a guest post coming up soon (be gentle, would you please?) and I’m even working on the logistics of a video post. I used to do them a while back, but my hair is much better now.
I actually watched last night’s episode of NXT in its normal time-slot, and even the subsequent episodes of Table for 3 (which featured former NXT champions Bo Dallas and Adrian Neville, along with current NXT talent Samoa Joe) and CultureShock (featuring excellent cosplay of The Vaudevillains by some friends of mine, Dan & Diego!) Now, I didn’t have any problems with the matches per say, but I was thoroughly unimpressed by the stories being told.
I’ve been hearing a lot lately that “NXT is in a transitional phase”. Which, I have to admit, doesn’t make a lick of sense to me. They already HAD a transitional phase in building the NXT brand to what it was not three months ago. There is no reason why they should be floundering in the way that they are right now. In fact, the NXT brand is experiencing the complete opposite of the main roster at this moment.
Right now on the main roster, they are missing three of the big names that are usually draws for the company in Brock Lesnar, John Cena, and Randy Orton. Post-Hell in a Cell they also temporarily eliminated the Undertaker, and during RAW, we saw the demise of Kane. We’re now looking at a depleted roster – or are we? One day – in the not-so-distant future – all of those guys will be gone. What we’ll have left is a roster not entirely unlike what we saw on Monday. And how did WWE deal? They created a tournament for the #1 contender spot that actually made sense: put all the winners from HIAC in matches together, and the winners of those matches go into a fatal four-way for the chance to face Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. And it was great television as well as great wrestling. (NOTE: I’m not claiming this is normal on the main roster, or that they’ll maintain this for next week.)
On NXT, however they seem to have lost sight of their purpose. I will give them this much: they’ve been bled a little dry. With Sami Zayn and Hideo Itami out on injury for months, and Adrian Neville, Tyler Breeze, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch all called up to the main roster, it’s been hard to fill the void. But there is currently so much new talent down in NXT and so little TV time that the product is making very little sense from week to week. It used to be that when people were going to be debuting on NXT they were hyped – there was some sort of commercial we’d see a few weeks before they finally appeared in the ring. Now people are just showing up left and right without warning. It doesn’t seem to fair to them to get swallowed up in a whole crop of new faces – especially the people who have been in the business forever. Every once in a while springing someone new on us could be fun, but the hype for Kevin Owens was so palpable when he finally appeared on an episode of NXT, people were climbing the walls. I want to get that excited for people as a fan, but I need some help from the NXT marketing team.
As far as the actual programming goes, it seems they don’t know what they want. We’ve heard that Triple H listens to the fans as he focuses the direction of the NXT product (though I hope that doesn’t just mean the live audiences, because I’m beginning to hate them more than I hate live main roster audiences.) NXT is constantly making adjustments, which is understandable – but make them during the live events, not on TV. I like Jason Jordan and Chad Gable a lot, but I don’t want to see the “talented guy looks for scrappy new tag partner” trope one more time. And while I empathize that the women’s roster was shaved down quite a bit by the main roster call-ups, but I’m tired of watching indie girls get fed to actual contracted talent. I think it’s great that NXT is trying to diversify their audience, but the new WWE Network program Breaking Ground shows us there are plenty of people who could use the air-time, even if it’s to job to Emma.
I’m not going to give advice to a publicly traded company on how to do their job. I’m sure Trips will get the swing back in NXT eventually. But in the meantime, how about a request: more stories and less filler. You’ve got plenty of heat brewing in your roster, just open the lid and let it go.