We live in a wrestling world where things are changing every few days. Whether it’s someone jumping to a new promotion, an injury taking someone out, another big show taking place or one of a host of other things, there are all kinds of changes taking place. The impact of these changes could vary depending on your tastes, but they are certainly taking place. That was the case again this week and this one is going to cause some changes.
This week it was announced, after a week or so of being all but confirmed, that NXT would be moving over to the USA Network, further strengthening the bond between USA and WWE. At the same time though, it doesn’t exactly sound like the best news for NXT fans for whatever reason you would like to choose, including the main roster style taking over NXT (I know it has been said that the changes aren’t coming but how long do you really expect that to last?).
I’ve been a huge NXT fan since January 2, 2013 when Big E. came out to confront the Shield in a nearly perfect moment. Since then NXT has become the best wrestling show in the world and seeing them have what would be considered a good show elsewhere ould be considered an off week. Since the announcement came down, I’ve been worried about what we might be seeing, but maybe it won’t be so bad.
That’s what we’re going to be taking a look at today: how bad could things get, but also how good could things get? I know it sounds mostly bad for the fans and probably NXT as a whole, but there are certainly some good things that could come out of it for both sides. At the same time, there is the AEW factor as well, which is what this whole thing is built around and will certainly come into play.
Remember the really old days:
First of all, this ends the idea of NXT being a minor league promotion/show. If NXT is going to be on the same network as Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live with the same time slot as SmackDown Live, it stops being a level beneath them. The show will be just as available to the audience as the flagship show, with the only difference being the size of the arenas the wrestlers are performing in.
This is already something that could go either way on the positive or negative scale. On one hand, it’s a lot more exposure for the talent, who have worked very hard to get here and have arguably been a lot better than anything Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live have been offering for the last several years. NXT is as popular as it has been for a reason and now the talent is going to get a chance to showcase themselves on a much bigger stage. In theory, that should also mean a big increase in pay, as the money being brought in should partially go to the talent (I have a feeling WWE will see it otherwise).
On the other side though, the promotion is going to take a big hit as it loses some of that underground feeling. NXT feels like the little engine that could (assuming the little engine had a billion dollar company supporting it and a revolving door of all star level talent) and could always go with the “follow THAT main roster” mentality. If you put it on equal footing with the other shows, the expectations go up as the show is now one of them rather than the show that gets to prove they’re better. It doesn’t go away entirely, but it’s now something they have to deal with rather than something they can thrive on.
Moving on can be hard:
Then you have one of the more obvious changes: there is now twice as much NXT to watch. On one hand, that’s quite the positive change. NXT is one of the best wrestling shows of all time at this point and getting to see even more of it sounds like a good thing. There are so many names in NXT that we don’t get to see too often and with so many new names coming in (they have enough to run a tournament of eight people we haven’t seen before), there is more than enough talent to fill in the two hour time slot.
At the same time though, going back to the same problem as earlier, this is going to take away a lot of what makes the show work so well. A lot of the appeal of NXT is that it leaves you wanting more. The talent rotates in and out so well that while you see some of them every few weeks, there is enough time in between their appearances that they never overstay their welcome. It’s a nice feeling to see a talented performer that you haven’t watched in a long time come back out and show why they’re as popular as they are. That will still be around, but it won’t be around as much.
Next, and arguably the most important, the main roster is likely to have a bigger hand in what happens on NXT. This one is going to entirely depend on the details, because it could go either way. On one hand, there is the bad idea: Shane McMahon spreading down to NXT, Baron Corbin as NXT Champion, wrestlers who aren’t worth much on the main roster getting a push in NXT because they have nothing else to do and the NXT talent that is popular getting shoved down for “stars”.
Then there’s the good idea though, with people like Tyler Breeze, Fandango and Killian Dain getting another chance down in NXT. Those three had nothing going on where they were but they’re stars when they head to Full Sail. That could be the case with a lot of people as they could use NXT as a place to try something new and see what works. The talent is already there and putting them in NXT gives them a fresh place to go in front of a crowd that is going to appreciate them a lot more. It’s going to be a case by case basis, but if it’s done right, this could be very valuable.
Finally, and there isn’t much of a way around this, you have the big X factor to the whole deal: Vince McMahon. Simply put, if McMahon stays mostly away from NXT, the show can have a fighting chance. If McMahon only has a little input here and there (which is fine as he certainly knows what he’s doing more often than not), everything can work well and it can be a positive thing for everyone involved.
Just change the letters:
Then there’s the other ending. If McMahon decides that he needs to “fix” NXT and make it more like the WWE product, you’re better off firing up NXT UK and 205 Live now because NXT as we know it is done for. Should the ratings and audience go low, you can imagine Roman Reigns, Baron Corbin, Shane McMahon and other stars showing up and the fans revolting against them because they see NXT as their place. If that happens, there is nothing that keeps NXT from being the third main roster brand, which is completely defeating the purpose of the whole thing being put on USA. If that happens, NXT dies in a hurry.
I’d like to believe that this is only going to lead to great things for the black and gold but WWE has taught me better than that over the years. At the same time though, I don’t think it’s going to be a complete and utter disaster, at least at first. What matters for WWE is to have some counter programming to AEW and NXT is the best option they have. It’s popular among the “smart” fans and that’s going to be a similar audience to what AEW is going after. This could work, or it could kill off one of the best things that WWE has done in years. As usual it’s hard to say which it will be, but history has shown to bet on the worse option.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 28 wrestling books. His latest book is the History Of In Your House.
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