WWE NXT: No longer just the ‘developmental’ brand
When NXT began in 2012, the main aim behind the show was to give a chance to wrestlers before they could ‘move up’ to the main roster - RAW and SmackDown.Updated: Oct 05, 2019 00:01 IST
“A song is only too long if it is not good” - The confidence was evident in Triple H’s reply when he was asked about WWE NXT changing its format to two hours. The Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative has been the main force behind NXT since its inception and ahead of its big debut on the USA Network on Wednesday, he seemed like a proud father gloating about his kids’ achievements. The show did not disappoint either as it had a number of quality matches and at the end of the night, it was clear that NXT is no longer the so-called ‘developmental brand’ of WWE.
When NXT began in 2012, the main aim behind the show was to give a chance to wrestlers before they could ‘move up’ to the main roster - RAW and SmackDown. Over the years, names like Seth Rollins, Finn Balor and Big E represented the brand and produced a number of great matches at the Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida - the home of the NXT brand. With the WWE performance center not far away, it was the perfect place for the developmental talent to hone their skills and it also provided the perfect platform for them to sharpen their characters before appearing in any of the main shows.
As time progressed, NXT made quite a name for itself and the brand was able to establish its own loyal fanbase. With a number of big names from the independent wrestling scene joining the company in the last few years, they were tried out first in NXT and with names like Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode and Samoa Joe heading the roster, the brand’s popularity improved massively. However, it was still a pre-recorded show with a run time of just one hour and that meant a lot of wrestlers were unable to get screen time and the top talents rarely stayed for a longer time.
However, with NXT finding a place in cable TV and WWE extending it to two hours, the brand has found just the boost it needed. Right now, there are 109 talents in the Orlando Performance Center and with the more run time, it will be easier for the talent to find a place in the weekly programming. Former NXT champion Jonny Gargano was quite excited with the latest developments and he believes that this is one of the best things to happen to the brand and also the youngsters in the roster.
“The coolest thing about the show going two hours is that before there were so many talented people in the roster who the people have not seen yet but now, they will have such more of an opportunity. They have a chance to showcase their talent and thanks to the reach that NXT has gained, they have a huge audience for their matches,” Gargano told Hindustan Times ahead of NXT TV tapings in Orlando.
The other major factor that worked in WWE NXT’s favour is the emergence of a tough competition in the form of All Elite Wrestling (AEW). The weekly show of the newly formed promotion - AEW Dynamite - will be broadcasting at the same time as NXT and the internet has already termed it the ‘Wednesday Night Wars’. While the move away from NXT to RAW or Smackdown used to be considered a promotion for the wrestlers, WWE changed the perception by sending one of its top stars - Finn Balor - to NXT during the episode of Wednesday. Gargano, who has been a part of NXT since 2015, said that there is no ‘war’ but also agreed that the change in format has elevated NXT’s brand.
“There is no longer any moving up in WWE. It is lateral movement among the three brands. With NXT coming on live TV, it is as important as the other two and it is truly exciting times for the talent. I don’t think there is any war with the other company but it does help in motivating the wrestlers,” he said.