NXT was once known as WWE’s developmental brand. However, the wrestlers signed to the “developmental” brand were veterans, some with decades of experience worldwide. With former rosters such as Shinsuke Nakamura, Io Shirai, Finn Balor, and Samoa Joe, you realize that this was nowhere near a developmental brand. This was a league of its own. And for years, NXT was the pinnacle of WWE wrestling.
The annual takeover shows were leagues better than the “main” shows’ own events. Upstaging their big brother brands, RAW and Smackdown, with better wrestling and better storylines. In 2019, NXT finally had a chance to stand on its own as it debuted on cable TV, finally cementing the brand as something more than just the “minor” leagues. There’s an issue. The WWE considers NXT the red-headed indy step-child. Whether or not talent called up to the leading brands succeed is a complete dice roll.
There are definitely NXT call-ups who have succeeded in the leading brands. Seth Rollins, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, and Charlotte Flair, to name a few. However, there are also call-ups who, on paper, should have never failed. Adrian Neville is an excellent example of this, someone with enough of a wow factor and wrestling ability that alone should have propelled them. Seeing his Red Arrow is well worth the price of admission. Yet, he floundered.
Triple H, who is in charge of NXT, has made statements on this misuse of talent. “…There are players that play in college football, and people can’t wait for them to get to the NFL. They get to the NFL, and it doesn’t work; it doesn’t pan out. And you can say, ‘Well, the team misused them or mismanaged them, or the coach for the team they played for didn’t put them in the right role, or do whatever.’ But it could be a million reasons.”
Unlike football, there are no outside variables that would affect a wrestler. Therefore, no opposition can simply shut down a wrestler’s potential. The only thing that can do this is management themselves. Andrade Almas, Ricochet, Aleister Black are examples of wrestlers who shouldn’t be put in positions to fail. Their potential is unlimited, yet we see these wrestlers leaving the company or being lost in the mid-card with no clear direction.
Karrion Kross is the latest example of this disregard for the NXT Talent. He is the current NXT Champion and has been undefeated. Just look at his debut with Scarlett.
Now, let’s compare Kross’ debut on Monday Night Raw.
The NXT Champion faces off against Jeff Hardy, only to lose in less than 3 minutes. We can acknowledge that Jeff Hardy is a veteran, a former WWE Heavyweight Champion. Jeff Hardy doesn’t need this victory. In fact, he doesn’t even need to be Karrion Kross’ opponent if he does. They are in complete control of this outcome. Instead of bringing legitimacy to an undefeated champion, they trivialize his accomplishment in record time.
They delegitimize the NXT roster who couldn’t defeat him. Instead of giving light to a new potential star, they shut him down, and they hurt only themselves in the process. These events have reportedly made the NXT roster feel as if Vince McMahon is sending them a message. And for whatever reason, this keeps happening; it’s definitely not good for business. It’s hurting NXT and therefore hurting the WWE’s own future.
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