While many might think that the title is “click-bait” or that Queen KB has finally completely lost what little sanity she had (honestly, much of my sanity is with EY, but that’s a whole other article), I can assure you that this is neither of those things. I don’t believe in click-bait and I haven’t lost it – not totally. What I am is completely serious in stating that NXT truly hurts our enjoyment of Raw and SD. Some of my reasons might be feelings you have or…they might not. Either way, I’d love to have some intelligent debate below.
Let me start off with the most obvious and oft-discussed reason that NXT is bad for Raw and SD. It’s because Trip puts on a fantastic show in NXT. Raw and SD cannot compare in almost any way when they are running former NXT superstars. NXT shows are so fantastic for such a laundry list of reasons that almost every week, their shows are better than Raw and usually better than SD. If that wasn’t enough, there’s been more than a few Big 4 PPVs that couldn’t hold a candle to the NXT TakeOver the night before…in the same city. I’ve heard of really hardcore wrestling fans traveling to the specific city for a Big 4 PPV, but being much more excited to see NXT TakeOver. NXT has been called the hottest ticket in town, even if SummerSlam or Survivor Series is happening the same weekend.
In NXT, certain characters catch on and work really well, and part of that is the small audience and “fishbowl feel” of the shows themselves. That same audience attends the shows for each taping because they are locals and love the show and wrestlers, but also the vibe of NXT, which is totally different from anything else. Further, the small arena makes chants sound that much louder, and with the same fans over and over, they know exactly what they are doing and what they are pushing for, what they want to catch on and be heard. Because of the fishbowl audience, some of these things that absolutely wouldn’t work on Raw or SD become something beloved and exciting. Further, the fans watching on WWE Network hear these loud chants and they catch on quickly outside of Orlando and the IWC writes about these superstars and chants online. Because of this, these superstars and chants grow larger than life. The problem is that not all of these things translate well to the entire WWE Universe at large, and these characters just don’t get over the same way on Raw and SD. While it’s not necessarily the fault of the superstars in question, they end up getting blamed for not engaging the fans the way they did in NXT, and some claim that the superstars cannot work in front of the huge crowds.
Early on when some superstars came up from NXT, McMahon seemed to want to prove Trip wrong, and he badly booked some of them as if to prove Trip and the fans that McMahon was the only one who really understands wrestling and how to produce what the fans really want. While not everyone loves 100% of what they see on WWE TV, when the majority of the fans are unhappy with the product, that means McMahon isn’t hitting the mark as well as he thinks he is. Fans are not watching Raw and SD, but are tuning in to NXT and other shows on the WWE Network. The reason is clearly because they’re sick of how out-of-touch the shows really are, and that their reactions are not listened to. They’re sick of McMahon pushing who he likes, who has the right look – no matter how the fans react – all to appease his ego. Now, I know there’s serious heat on Cena, but his merch numbers are solid so I get why he is pushed but if you look at merch numbers for other superstars who McMahon has pushed hard, they just don’t make sense. People are not buying merch for certain superstars all because McMahon thinks we should. If McMahon had continued treating the fans and superstars like this through the Monday Night War, we might not have the WWE to kvetch about.
If the fans only wanted the large cookie cutter guys who are not very technically sound and who McMahon tries to feed us, we’d be stuck with match after match of Hogan, Luger, Goldberg, Ryback, Brock Lesnar, etc., and I don’t know anyone who wants that.
There is always a lot of talk about who will be called up next from NXT, which brand they will end up working, who they will be working with, and how their character will be changed in the call-up. The problem is that we are waiting with baited breath for the character/storyline for these superstars we love, but they almost invariably end up turning stale quicker than the blink of the eye on the main roster. Something about the characters/storylines feel dumbed down for the general public. The best of the superstars are able to break free and work around the staleness issue because they really are that great, but it doesn’t work for all of them, and much of it is because they’ve been boiled down to the basics of their characters and are not allowed to have the complexity that made them so great in NXT. Sadly too many have to spend the time finding themselves again on the main roster, and that delays the excitement around them being called up. Look at Ty Dillinger. He was brought up with “10” everywhere, and when he wasn’t pushed right out of the blocks, he’s become nothing on SD, and no one really cares about him. It would be better for him to go back to NXT to be rebuilt.
Not every new WWE superstar needs to spend a year or two in NXT, but some get stuck there for too long and by the time they are brought up, the character they came in with is stale and doesn’t make sense to most everyone. I’m specifically thinking about Bobby Roode who spent some great time in NXT, but should have been brought up to SD sooner than later. Further, Roode is a much better heel than face and has kind of fallen a bit stale from the start on SD. If he’d been brought up quickly as a massive heel, his glorious run would be unstoppable at this point, and he’d be fighting AJ for the WWE Championship. And Nakamura shouldn’t have spent half the time he did in NXT, as he’s not young and risked career ending injuries while there, something that could have kept him off the main roster and kept the fans from falling in love with him the way we have.
It all comes back to McMahon not pushing for most of these superstars to succeed the way the superstars he really likes (Reigns, Lesnar) get pushed. I will admit that AJ is an anomaly in all of this, but he’s one out of dozens who just have not been given the chance they deserve on the main roster. It can be depressing for the fans to see such greatness wasted over ego, and I cannot imagine how those specific superstars feel!