WWE | Pro Wrestling

Has WWE NXT Overtaken Raw and SmackDown?

WWE fans are buzzing after NXT’s REvolution event that occurred on Thursday, December 11. The night was filled with some very solid wrestling, top notch entertainment and overall was an impressively strong card.

Of course, the majority of us expected it to be. NXT has been red hot as of late, especially since the advent of the WWE Network. One week after another brings more excitement and more fun to a company that often finds itself struggling to deliver on both. But the question is has NXT overtaken WWE?

I have to say, I never thought I would be asking this question right now. Don’t get me wrong, it has nothing to do with the quality of the NXT product. WWE’s developmental territory has been getting it done and then some for quite a while now.

And it’s not because I didn’t think it could ever reach this point. Each new week seems to always top the previous one and in an environment where virtually all of the talent is striving to improve, it’s inevitable that very thing would happen. Eventually the product would reach the level that it has and we would all be left having this very debate.

So yes, I did think it was entirely possible. But let’s just say I didn’t think WWE would allow it to get this far. I never thought that the company would intentionally hold the NXT talent down, however. We’ve seen that before over the years, more times than any of us care to admit.

I guess what surprises me the most is that the main roster is not better right now. WWE has allowed its developmental brand, the one that features Superstars that are supposedly not ready for prime time, to completely show up its primary locker room. NXT is supposed the be the proving ground, the place where new faces are sent to hone their skills and build their characters in front of a WWE audience that may or may not have any previous knowledge of who they are.

But instead, NXT is now a parade of main event stars. These guys don’t need time to adapt. Building confidence is not necessary, theirs is at an all time high. The NXT roster looks more than ready to be transplanted straight to Monday Night Raw. Like scab players that just want a job, the NXT team would be a welcome change to the major league roster rife with overpaid athletes. Think Necessary Roughness, only these guys are much better actors that Keanu Reeves.

Of course, that is an oversimplification of the whole situation. The fact is that a good number of the NXT stars are not replacement players; they’re ready and they’re ready right now. There’s a lot of great talent in Florida and that talent only really needs a stage to perform on. Once they get it, they kill it. That’s what professionals do.

Kevin Owens debuted on REvolution, in one of the most highly anticipated matches in recent memory. The wrestler formerly known as Kevin Steen did what he does best; he steamrolled his opponent. CJ Parker was Owens’ first victim and he will not be the last. I have to say that I didn’t know how Owens would look on WWE programming or if he would even fit in. And the fact is he didn’t; he stood out. Keep your eyes on Owens, everyone else will be.

Charlotte retained her NXT Women’s Championship against Sasha Banks, who was not even on my radar at all. Well, she is now. For any Diva on the main roster that’s interested in how a match should be run, there can be no better example than this one. Both women turned in very solid performances and that belt could not be in better hands right now. Charlotte is the real deal.

If not for the NXT Championship match, Hideo Itami and Finn Balor versus The Ascension would have been the main event. The reason for that is Balor, who finally brought the paint to TV. Looking more like a Spider-Man symbiote than a pro wrestler, Balor crawled down the ramp and changed NXT forever. This guy was made for WWE and if all goes well, he should make some serious money for them and for himself.

Then there’s the aforementioned main event, Adrian Neville versus Sami Zayn. You know how the word “clinic” is so cliché and so overused? Well, this was a clinic. This was what a professional wrestling match is supposed to be and how it’s supposed to look. Fans loved every minute of it because unlike some of their Raw counterparts, Zayn and Neville were allowed to tell their story in the ring without having to suffer some ridiculous run-in or otherwise weak ending.

The future is now. How’s that for cliché? But in this case, it’s the absolute truth. So now that we’ve established the NXT crew is primed and ready for the big time, the only issue is when will it happen and why is Florida still a developmental territory? Isn’t NXT basically the third WWE brand now? And shouldn’t it be?

Again, how did WWE let this happen? How is the main roster so full of nonsense that the supposed C show is running A+ right now? NXT looks more like what WWE should be, while Raw and even SmackDown have both basically become old hat. NXT is called the future but shouldn’t it be the norm?

Now here’s a bit of news that no one really wants to think about. Just because the NXT program is money right now does not necessarily mean that its talent can get over on Monday nights. Call it an overall unfamiliarity with the product, call it a blasé attitude among the audience, call it what you will. The fact is that the NXT crowd and the typical WWE crowd are not always one and the same.

But maybe it will be. And maybe it needs to happen sooner rather than later. NXT is taking over, if it hasn’t already.

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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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