29th Aug2019

Opinionated: What Will Become of NXT When it Moves to USA Network?

by Chris Cummings


So, if you’re a wrestling fan and you follow the current product then you likely know all about the recent news that WWE has signed with USA Network in the States to broadcast their NXT weekly show live on Wednesday nights, a show that will go from being a one hour weekly product to a two hour one.

NXT has been a popular program on the WWE Network and has caught fire and bred it’s own entire universe of fans. Aimed at the more hardcore fanbase and people who follow many other promotions around the World, NXT has become one of the most exciting and critically acclaimed products in WWE’s history, providing many fans with an old-school booking style, a greater focus on in-ring work and characters who are less produced and corny. There’s an aura of “cool” that NXT has amassed since it’s inception and with their terrific weekly one-hour show on the Network and their more-often-than-not incredible TakeOver specials it has become a huge hit.

For fans of NXT, the recent news of it moving to a television network and upping its weekly time to two hours is both intriguing and concerning. The NXT weekly show was nice and short and in being only an hour in length it meant that nobody on the roster really was over-saturated and used to the point where viewers were bored or tired of them. In a day and age where fans are more and more difficult to please, NXT’s format was used perfectly, using various talent but doing so sparingly, leaving plenty of things for fans to still want, and not giving everything up right away. Characters have been built well and NXT has gone on to furnish the main roster with around 80% of its talent. Men and women like Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Xavier Woods, Bray Wyatt and Alexa Bliss all began their WWE careers in NXT.

With the move to the USA Network we can expect a change in the way it’s presented, not only with the inclusion of ad-breaks, but perhaps a change in the overall production. It’s not for sure, but it’s certainly likely in the future. WWE have announced that NXT’s new show will still be shot at Full Sail University, it’s home for the past few years. I think this is a very positive thing and something I was previously worried about. The fans at Full Sail tend to add a lot to the shows, their reactions and knowledge of the product making what happens in the ring feel all the more important. Will NXT eventually tour full-time and begin to perform in front of bigger audiences in bigger arenas? We shall see, but I think it’s a likely scenario, with Vince McMahon going on the record to state that he wants NXT to be on par with RAW and SmackDown in the future. A third brand on the same level as his flagship programs.

The roster of talent in NXT is immense and has been for years. There are some incredible men and women who work in NXT to this day, and some other incredible talent who are signed to WWE who are yet to debut and are still working their butts off in the Performance Centre in Orlando. Who will be the faces of this new era of NXT? The Undisputed Era are certainly likely to be at the forefront of the brand, as they have been for a while now. Johnny Gargano, one of the very best wrestlers in the world today, will too, undoubtedly. Shayna Baszler, Velveteen Dream, Pete Dunne, Io Shirai, Matt Riddle and others are also extremely likely to be a huge part of NXT as it debuts on USA. It’s also likely that NXT will have to debut some new men and women to the brand soon in order to better fill the new two-hour show. Will we maybe even see some former NXT talent make their return to the brand in the way Tyler Breeze has recently? I think it’s a big possibility, especially if Vince McMahon feels like NXT needs some bigger and more well-known characters to appear on the program when it hits its new network.

I’m not yet sure how I feel about this big change in NXT and what it means for the future of the brand. I’m very happy for the talent in NXT and think it’s a great thing for them to have more chance to be seen by a wider audience. I am also completely okay with the increase to two-hours. I’m used to watching a lot of wrestling, so another hour of my personal favourite weekly WWE program isn’t going to upset me. I’m just concerned about the potential changes that could happen. It’s not far-fetched to imagine NXT becoming something very different to what we’re used to seeing and enjoying each week as it attempts to draw in more viewers and make new fans. Will involvement from others cause the brand to resemble RAW and SmackDown more than the NXT we’ve become accustomed to? Who knows. I’d like to think that the words of Triple H, who said that the production and style of NXT isn’t going to change, are true, and that it will merely be a longer show with more talent getting a chance. If that’s the case, this could be very interesting and exciting.

We’re also aware that WWE’s big NXT news comes after the new promotion in town, AEW, announced they will be going live on TNT each Wednesday from October. This news has obviously shaken WWE up a little, causing them to want to compete with AEW on that night. This newly labelled “Wednesday Night War” could be a fun time for wrestling and wrestling fans, or it could spell the end for NXT or AEW. Again, it’s all guessing and conjecture at this point. It’s easy to be excited about these things when nothing has been seen yet. I’ll be holding back my deeper opinions until both promotions begin to air their new Wednesday Night programs. Could this be the very start of a new WWF vs. WCW war, or are we merely going to see two promotions exist and do their best to entertain the fans? I’m hoping for the latter. I’m not so bothered about witnessing two separate promotions bickering and picking on each other every chance they get, and more about wanting the best products possible with that awesome pool of talent each company has.

I have my eyes fully locked on what WWE are doing, and like many fans I am waiting to see what happens with this occurrence. NXT. Two Hours. USA Network. September. This is going to be something. What that “something” is, we don’t yet have a clue.


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