Sunday, September 14, 2014
NXT to WWE - What Happens Next?
So I checked out WWE's NXT Takeover show from a few nights ago (on the WWE Network for only $9.99!), and was very impressed. NXT, for those who may not know, is the developmental arm of the WWE where they groom tomorrow's superstars before sending them up. A lot of people who are putting in work on the main roster got their start there, like the Shield, the Wyatt Family, Big E, Bo Dallas, and Paige. It also serves as somewhat of a way station for people from the main roster like Tyson Kidd, Justin Gabriel, and Sin Cara. The NXT Takeover main event was a Fatal Four Way match for the NXT Title between champion Adrien Neville, Tyler Breeze, Tyson Kidd, and Sami Zayn. The match had some excellent all around action, and Breeze has a character down pat who is ready made when he gets called up. The other match that stood out for me was the Tag Team Title match where Cara and Kalisto unseated long reigning champs The Ascension. The match result probably means that the Ascension will be getting a call up soon to the main WWE roster. To their credit, the WWE does give the NXT graduates ample time to prove themselves once they're called up and many have become major players. What really perplexes me is how some of the same people who get over and shine on NXT seem devoid of excitement on the bigger stage.
Kidd and Justin Gabriel are two guys who, when on RAW or Smackdown, were card carrying members of the If-Only-They-Could-Talk Club, a joy to watch in the ring but totally bland and boring on the mic. But watching them on NXT I got a different impression. Both guys showed personality and were able to do what was necessary to get their storyline over with the crowd. The NXT champion Neville comes off very well on the NXT show but would possibly suffer the same fate. Even Paige, who's been getting a huge push since coming to the WWE roster after WrestleMania, is a sleep inducer anytime she's not wrestling. If it weren't for AJ (and now NIkki Bella) being there to inject some personality into her angle no one would want to see her. I'm betting that she was a lot better of a character before her promotion, otherwise she'd still be down there. So I don't know what's happening between the time people do well down there and when they get called up. A lot of it is probably just the crowded roster. Once you get called up you have to get time alongside all the regulars who are already there, and unless you can do something that makes people want to see you more than them you're not going to last long.
The show itself has a different feel to it as well. I came up an old school, 1980s NWA fan and the NXT show feels just like that. It's about wrestling, and the storylines that run are centered around wrestling and not personality driven drama. That of course, is the gift and the curse of the main WWE program. They're trying to create multimedia stars are not just wrestlers. When it works you get Hulk Hogan or the Rock or (yes) John Cena. When it doesn't you get a guy who might be good in the ring but no one wants to see because they think his character sucks. But that's been the case ever since Vince McMahon took over for his Dad. It is what it is. But having gotten a taste of NXT, I do plan on coming back for more.