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Is the Honeymoon over for WWE NXT?

NXT is the best part of WWE. It’s safe to say a majority of fans would agree with that assessment, and truth be told it’s been very hard to disagree. The program has featured some of the most exciting matches, and most colorful characters that the industry has seen in quite some time.

It could very well be said that at any given time, NXT has been the best wrestling on TV, even eclipsing Monday Night Raw. But that might be changing now.

It’s possible that no one really believed NXT would reach the heights it has. NXT went from being a developmental territory to being the unofficial third brand of WWE. The programming was on par with anything WWE’s main roster was doing and the buzz online was that many talents were feeling the pressure to step up their game.

Competition is good of course, and WWE really hasn’t seen any since WCW went down. There’s nothing wrong with the established roster feeling the heat and wanting to outshine the “rookies.” Maybe that was either the point of NXT or just a side effect of its rise in popularity.

Either way, fans were happy. Every week NXT hit online and every week the fans sang its praises. Not only was Vince McMahon’s company prepping for the future, it was also delivering the goods right now. All was well and only getting better.

But the mood seems to be changing. The Full Sail crowd that had become a major distraction in the minds of many has suddenly gone quiet. The energy doesn’t seem to be what it was, and neither does the energy being shown in the ring.

Could it be that the NXT locker room is settling in, and going through the motions? It’s not that the matches are bad, and it’s not as if anyone is visibly taking the night off. But something definitely feels different about the NXT product now.

Maybe fans are spoiled. Maybe NXT just kept giving and giving to the point that everyone forgot it was a WWE produced program. Maybe the notion that NXT felt like an independent company subtly took over until it became an accepted idea. But maybe now the truth is coming out.

Despite all the hope it’s given fans and despite all the excitement it’s generated, NXT is a WWE brand. That means it’s fully capable of disappointing fans on every level, just like Raw and SmackDown. It also means that the talents in that locker room are all working toward the main roster’s locker room, and that means they will become cogs in the WWE machine.

No Way Jose; three little words that mean quite a lot right now. Levis Valenzuela Jr. is set to debut soon on NXT, presumably under the new working name of No Way Jose. This is a dancing gimmick, perhaps similar in tone to Fandango, another former NXT star. Coincidentally, the eye rolling began at the same time the vignettes began airing.

Fans have seen this move so many times before, it’s become laughable. Once again a silly gimmick is on the way, and once again no one is looking forward to it. Why, in 2016, does pro wrestling’s largest company still feel the need to talk down to its fans?

Why is more comedy being introduced, especially on a show featuring heavy hitters like Samoa Joe and Finn Balor? What possible reason could WWE have for putting such nonsense on TV, especially when the chances of that nonsense failing miserably on Raw are immense? The answer is easy.

This is WWE. This is what that company does. Whether it’s Triple H, Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, or WWE Creative, someone is making the decision to once again bring back the sideshow routines. The moves don’t happen that often anymore but they do happen, and though the company surely believes it’s all a great idea, no one else really does.

The fact is that NXT may have seen its best days, and the honeymoon might be over. Much like any other wrestling brand on TV, the talents are tied to the storylines, and act under the direction they’re given. Even the best workers must go along with the program and if that program is being handled poorly, then everyone will suffer.

NXT’s next event will happen during WrestleMania weekend, and could very well change the negative opinion that exists. Perhaps all will go well and NXT will outperform everyone on the Mania card. Maybe NXT will make the splash that fans are accustomed to, and any recent issues with the program will be forgotten.

For that matter, maybe No Way Jose will be the biggest act to hit NXT since The Shield. No one thought NXT would get this far, right?

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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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