14th Aug2019

Opinionated: The Rise and Rise of NXT

by Chris Cummings

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Fans of pro-wrestling, of which I am obviously one, will know all about the rising force within WWE known as NXT. WWE’s own version of independent wrestling, NXT provides a more realistic sports-based product with an old-school tone and a roster of guys who, much of the time, have made waves across the indie circuit all over the world. There are some homegrown talent there too, some folks from amateur wrestling, some guys who come from other backgrounds in sports and elsewhere. It’s a real melting pot of talent. If you take a look at WWE’s main shows now, RAW and SmackDown, you’ll find that most of the talent on those programs have come up through the NXT brand. It began as a development system, but has become its own monster, a highly successful and critically beloved monster that only seems to get better and better as the weeks, months and years go on.

Back in 2012 when NXT began as a weekly television product after the closure of FCW, the roster was a mixture of WWE talent and developmental talent. The show looked decent, but still resembled a lower tier product meant to build new names over time. Time passed, however, and as NXT started with their own two-hour (now three-hour+) special events in 2014, it began to become its own thing, with its own fanbase and a roster of beloved characters, performers we would eventually see become big stars on WWE’s main television shows.

NXT TakeOver, the special events that NXT runs every few months, have become a huge deal. We’ve seen 26 of them to date, and just when you think they can’t possibly get bigger or better, they manage to do so. We’ve seen so many incredibly talented wrestlers on the black-and-yellow show since it began. Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Bray Wyatt, Kevin Owens, Charlotte Flair, Alexa Bliss, Shinsuke Nakamura, Big E, Becky Lynch and many many others began their WWE careers in NXT. Since then, and currently, we have names like The Undisputed Era, Johnny Gargano, Shayna Baszler, Matt Riddle, Io Shirai, Velveteen Dream, Pete Dunne, The Street Profits, Tommaso Ciampa and others are kicking arse and taking names week after week. Sure, these names may not seem as impressive as that first list of names, but they will be eventually. It’s unavoidable that guys like Adam Cole, Gargano, Ciampa, Baszler and Velveteen Dream will become mega-stars in WWE that the world of wrestling will know about in the years to come.

It’s become part of pro-wrestling’s landscape. NXT is something many fans count as the very best pro-wrestling in the world right now. I regularly look forward to the NXT product and programming more than I look forward to other wrestling shows. The storylines, the feuds, the match-quality, the characters and the presentation just ticks all the boxes for me, and for many other fans.

Will NXT keep getting better? I mean, surely there will have to be a time when it falls flat and hits a low point, right? Well, sure… wrestling is full of abs and flows, but as things lay right now, and so long as they keep doing what they’ve been doing for years, NXT looks set for a healthy future. The pool of talent yet to even debut on television is huge, and then there’s all that talent that WWE has yet to even scout and sign. There are names across the world that could become huge names in NXT eventually. Right now, though… with the men and women they have on the roster and the exceptional shows they keep putting on, NXT doesn’t need to sign another soul.

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One Response to “Opinionated: The Rise and Rise of NXT”

  • IJ

    Meh, the praise for NXT is always over the top for me. They produce some great matches at times, but story-building is easy when you have the ability to build new characters all the time. Nobody (Bazla aside perhaps) is there long enough to get stale because those that worked get sent up, they never have to book that guy who has been at the top for 5-6 years who the fans are kind of bored of now.

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