[adinserter block=”1″]Last Thursday marked the third event streamed live on the WWE Network for the company’s developmental federation, NXT.
And for the third consecutive live streaming event, NXT proved that it is worlds better than the product the WWE puts out.
Before I go into just why NXT is significantly better than the product the WWE puts out for its main show, Raw, I will make a defensible point for Raw. NXT gets to appeal to the more hardcore fans, the type of crowd that would show up to an Indie federation in a bingo hall to cheer on guys that your average fan has never heard of. Raw, meanwhile, is trying to appeal to the common denominator. They’re trying to appeal to the fans that casually watch Raw, hoping to get them or their kid into it enough that they’ll buy the merchandise, tickets and the Network.
Sadly, that the problem with reaching to the common denominator means that you have to dumb things down. The casual fan wants instant gratification, something to chant along with and easily recognizable stories without twists, turns or nuances that make them interesting.
As NXT showed last night, they do everything that fans like me clamor for out of the flagship show. The show is built around wrestling; performers may jabber at one another or get into backstage antics, but it all progresses to solving things in the ring. With Raw, it seems as though the in-ring stuff gets in the way of things they want to do on the microphone or backstage.
NXT also puts value in all of their titles, not just whichever one they happen to be paying attention to that day. There is gravity and importance to each title in their own different ways. On Raw, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship seems to be the only one that really gets any hype or attention. It comes in fits and spurts for the Divas and Intercontinental championships; not at all for the tag team titles. Really, you can see when the WWE gives a crap about which title because they alternate between hyping up their other titles and totally ignoring them.
Most importantly, the characters in NXT have realistic motivations and follow up on them. Tyler Breeze thinks he’s the best looking person in the company and wants the face of NXT (its champion) to be beautiful. Tyson Kidd is a 10-year WWE veteran who doesn’t have much going for him other than being “Nattie’s husband”, so he needs the NXT Championship to feel valuable again. Even the undercard stories get this kind of love. Bayley, challenger for the Women’s Championship and living the gimmick of “wrestling mark”, goes from being treated as a joke to having to be considered as a serious contender, earning the respect of the much bigger Charlotte Flair, who comes with all the fanfare that goes with being a Flair.
On Raw, there’s little of this. There’s little in the way of progressing the story in a meaningful manner. Look at the Brock Lesnar/John Cena feud. Instead of following Cena’s destruction at Summerslam with months of Cena questioning himself before eventually triumphing as the hero he’s treated as, he immediately comes back as the destroyer. He lays waste to everyone, says definitively that he’s going to kick Lesnar’s ass and basically went back to status quo. They quickly drop storylines, pushes and things that happened just a week before in favor of doing something else. NXT has maintained intertwining stories between multiple characters spanning months.
[adinserter block=”2″]Speaking of those suddenly deflated pushes, NXT stays the course with guys, giving them chances to build and grow as characters. Would CJ Parker have been able to find his snarky hippy persona on Raw? No, he’d have been put into squash matches and been effectively killed as a character if he didn’t get over immediately. Think of how many promising characters – Damien Sandow, Cody Rhodes, Bo Dallas – have had their momentum totally derailed by the ADD-booking that WWE displays. What would things be like for The Shield if they hadn’t had the instant impact they enjoyed right out of the gate?
The future does look bright for the WWE if they can take these nurtured, cared-for characters and implement them onto the big stage. But if they continue with their current trend of booking and character pushes, things can only end one way.
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