WWE | Pro Wrestling

A.J. Styles and the New Japan Invasion: WWE or NXT?

Right about now a lot of pro wrestling fans are playing fantasy booker with A.J. Styles. They’re envisioning him as a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble, dazzling the crowd with his high flying skills and eliminating one WWE Superstar after another. They’re also likely predicting he will win the event, and then go on to work the main event of WrestleMania 32.

Others are already thinking about a possible Bullet Club invasion of Raw, with Styles and Finn Balor at the helm followed by Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson and possibly Shinsuke Nakamura as well. It would be the nWo for a new generation and would pop WWE’s ratings like never before.

But before everyone gets too crazy we have to remember that nothing has happened yet and if it does, there’s no guarantee any of it would be this big. Why is that exactly?

Because this is WWE we’re talking about here and new talents don’t do a thing until they go through developmental. From CM Punk to Daniel Bryan to Roman Reigns to Samoa Joe, if you’re a new guy on the way in, you pay your dues first. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, you learn to get in line and play along just like everyone else.

That fact is not very fun for anyone that loves A.J. or Nakamura, for that matter. Either guy could be considered the best in the world right now and to imagine NXT would be the prerequisite to them coming in seems like a total waste of time.

If anyone is ready for the bright lights of WWE, it’s Styles and Nakamura. But the same could also be said of Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Finn Balor. So where does that leave us now? The fact is despite how much fans want to see Nakamura and The Bullet Club come in and make a massive impact, it just may not be in the cards.

If NXT is indeed the route, then their forward progress will be slowed down. Gallows and Anderson will go after the tag team championships, Nakamura will go after Joe and Styles will face off with Balor. NXT will become the hottest it’s ever been and fans will love every minute of it.

But it gets them no closer to the main roster. One by one they will assimilate into the NXT machine and little by little they will inhabit every corner of the brand until they become the top guys. Fans will start speculating about when they will make the jump and they eventually will, while the main roster continues to trudge along with up and down ratings.

Is that okay this time? Will fans be okay with New Japan’s hottest stars just sitting down in Florida and filling the chapters of NXT’s story? Or should things go differently this time?

The aforementioned ratings are a big deal and no matter how much the company wants them to improve; they’re not doing so quickly enough. This doesn’t mean that new talent should just be thrown at the problem of course. New talent must be strategically placed where they can be of the most value and they must be built from the ground up to establish their place in the company.

It makes no difference that each man has had full careers outside of WWE; mainstream fans won’t buy in unless they have a reason to. That is why so many have went through NXT despite their qualifications as main event talents.

There is a world of difference between NXT and WWE and fans have been programmed to know that difference. The indie circuit is not WWE and neither is New Japan; that’s all Vince McMahon’s universe knows or cares about.

One thing is for sure; WWE needs a kick in the teeth and there is nothing like a new wave of talent with a new storyline to make it happen. The Nexus proved that. The Shield proved that. While there’s no way to know if this would have the same long lasting impact that either one of those gimmicks had, the fact is there’s no harm in finding out.

The reward far outweighs the risk on this one and if Triple H along with Creative can get things moving in the right direction, then 2016 could be better and more exciting than anyone even thought possible. But that’s fantasy booking for you; it’s all just make-believe until the guys in charge make it a reality.

So temper your excitement people, we’re only just getting started.

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Tom Clark

Tom Clark can regularly be found on Camel Clutch Blog. His podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at https://tomclarksmainevent.libsyn.com/

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