It has been a summer of change in WWE, as the company has been shaken up in more ways than anyone would have believed to be possible. Vince McMahon finally (ahem) retired from the company and that means it is time to start filling in the power vacuum left behind. Triple H has filled in a big portion of that gap and has made some changes of his own in WWE. While there are a lot of them run together, we are going to be looking at what seems to be the biggest one, and how it ties into the future.
Triple H did a lot of things during his initial time in power in WWE and the biggest contribution he made was the rise of NXT. What used to be little more than bonus content on WWE.com/the early days of the WWE Network because a viable third brand, to the point where NXT ran away with the Battle For Brand Supremacy at Survivor Series 2019. The show wound up getting two hours on the USA Network every week and things were starting to go great.
Then came AEW and, long story short, Triple H’s NXT didn’t do so well against it, NXT got moved to Tuesdays (thank goodness) and Triple H had his health issues and everything fell apart. Throw in McMahon going down to NXT and reportedly not being happy with anything and there was no way around the big shakeup that resulted in the relaunch of NXT 2.0 and all the nuttiness that went along with it.
Flash forward to the one year anniversary of NXT 2.0. The show is a pretty rousing success, but in the end, the last thing we see is a new NXT logo, which looks a heck of a lot like the old one as the black and gold is back. Triple H is back in power and NXT looks ready to become something serious all over again, which is some of the best news that you could possibly hear.
So far, we have no idea what is going to come from the new NXT, but what matters is the fact that we are seeing a new focus on it. NXT 2.0 was a case of a bunch of people trying, but not being ready for the stage they were being given. There were a lot of people who just were not ready for that level but were wrestling on the same network as Monday Night Raw in prime time for two hours a week. It wasn’t going to work and it didn’t, though I don’t fault the wrestlers for that in the slightest (or at least most of the slightest).
The original USA NXT might not have been perfect, but in the words of the boss from A League Of Their Own, “You asked me to sell a product. This is a product.” The wrestlers on that show were seasoned veterans who had the talent to hang with the main roster crew if they were given a chance. That is something that made NXT into a third brand and they could have survived as such long term if a few adjustments had been made to keep things a bit more fresh.
Back in its day, NXT was one of the best things that the wrestling industry had seen in a very long time. It was described as the college years before wrestlers moved up to the main roster and that made a lot of sense. The shows were so much fun and presented in a different way than the rather tired Monday Night Raw and SmackDown. WWE is not exactly known for shaking things up but at least for one night a week, we were going to get something special and different, which is among the best things that the company could have done.
So what is the new NXT going to be? No idea yet, but that is one of the best things that I could say about the show. There have been so many weeks and months spent doing things that I don’t care about or that weren’t very good in the first place that it is great to see something different on the horizon. Even if it isn’t as good as the old stuff, the fact that we are getting a change from a fresh mind is a great thing to see.
One thing I do want to clarify is that NXT 2.0 was not some flaming dumpster fire of awful. The show was filled with wrestlers who were not ready for the main stage and were put in a position they shouldn’t have been in. There are some very talented wrestlers in there and you are going to be seeing a lot of them going forward. That being said, it was clear that someone with some more experience and star needed to be involved, which is what we might be getting in the future. Let some WWE stars come down there and boost things up, and then let’s see where things are heading from there. It was a great try, but it wasn’t working.
At the same time, there are a lot more former Triple H stars getting their chance/second chance on the main roster. While people like Tommaso (yes Tommaso thank goodness) Ciampa and Johnny Gargano had appeared on the main roster shows before, it isn’t like they were ever given a serious chance. While their situations (and many other situations) remain to be seen, what matters the most is that they are being given a shot with someone who believe in them at the helm. In other words, there is some hope that things could go differently rather than “oh well, maybe if McMahon likes the stupid stuff I do I can have a career”.
In other words, it’s a fresh start, and that is what WWE (and NXT for that matter) have been needing for a very long time. I’ve been watching WWE for well over thirty years and I never remember it being as depressing as it was in the last few years. It felt like nothing mattered from week to week and outside of WrestleMania season, nothing was treated as anything serious. I get that the company was making money, but at some point you need to upgrade your on-screen product as well. This might not be the game (er, Game) changer, but it is the big first step in the right direction.
That reveal of the black and gold style logo made me think that we could be seeing something special again in NXT. While I have a hard time believing that the glory days of the promotion are going to come back, just having things be a good bit more serious sounds like enough of a win. Rather than the bizarre D’Angelo Family vs. Legado del Fantasma stuff and Joe Gacy doing Gacy like things, we might actually be in for some stars being polished up and turning into some of the best things in WWE again.
What matters is that things are changing. Above all else, it isn’t the same thing over and over again, as has been the case for WWE. The company has been stuck for so long in the same place that there was no reason to believe that things were going to get better. With NXT running in the multicolored direction of 2.0 and letting go SO MANY stars that the roster was depleted, it didn’t seem like things were getting better and the hope for the future was rapidly fading.
The key word to the whole situation though is hope. For the first time in forever, there is a reason to believe that things might be getting better in WWE, as there have been so many years with no hope of anything getting better. For a long time, NXT and the stars that came with it were the only hope that we had but then everything got shut down and a bunch of the wrestlers were let go. After so much time, it is great to see that there is a chance for a future, especially now that it seems to be a flashback to the past.
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You can find more from Thomas Hall at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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