The evolution NXT has experienced since doing live events on the WWE Network has been simply amazing. In my opinion, ‘NXT Arrival’ on February 27th, 2014 was the day NXT was officially put on the map. Wrestling fans were able to watch NXT on other streaming platforms prior to their debut on the network but they got a better opportunity to see what The Ascension, Paige, Adrian Neville, Bo Dallas, Sami Zayn and others were all about because of the promotion NXT was getting on WWE programing.
[adinserter block=”1″]Prior to ‘NXT Arrival’, the likes of Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Rusev, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins all graced the NXT ring. Today, NXT is five live events in and they have talent like Baron Corbin, Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, Tyler Breeze, Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Kevin Owens bringing down the house.
Something started to change and it was impressive. After the Fatal 4-Way match between Neville, Zayne, Breeze and Tyson Kidd then the Zayn vs. Neville match at ‘R Evolution’ the thought really started creeping into my mind. After ‘Rival’ it solidified my opinion that day in and day out, NXT is a better product than RAW and SmackDown. After ‘NXT TakeOver: Rival’ was over I was so impressed I started to examine why NXT was so good. The reaction NXT received on social media was amazing so I clearly wasn’t alone. One of my buddies whose been a wrestling fan his entire life and someone whose opinion I respect texted me, “There are very few moments that make you feel, ‘that’s why I love wrestling’ and tonight was one of those nights.” It was clear; something special was definitely going on in NXT.
After some of the events over the last month, it’s pretty clear to me that NXT is as good as it is right now because of Triple H. He is the sole decision maker when it comes to booking and he’s nailing it. He has a reputation for burying guys and having a set image for what a superstar should be, but when he was on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s podcast, I was never more confident that he has what it takes to lead the WWE into the future. His vision, ideas and opinions have led to a snowball effect that’s making the entire NXT product the best to watch.
In response to a question on twitter, Tripe H said that he sees NXT “Standing on its own as a brand, but is not only a pipeline-but an alternative.” When I saw that I immediately took it to another level. NXT is now the “better alternative.” It’s obvious that NXT is not a minor league feeder system for the WWE anymore. Right now, today, NXT is a superior product and makes the WWE Network worth the $9.99 all by its self.
His desire for longer storylines and unscripted promos tells me that he gets it and makes me very excited for not only the future of NXT, but of RAW and SmackDown. He is a fan of the slow burn and that’s one of the biggest things lacking in the WWE today. Fans with short attention spans and the desire for instant gratification is really weakening the product. Yes, Daniel Bryan was an example of a slow burn but that was fan created. Bryan winning the WWE Championship at WrestleMania was not the plan. In NXT, the Zayn-Neville program is a prime example. It was a nice, long feud that was capped off with a great moment. As fans, we need to be patience because with main event feuds, the payoff is almost always worth it.
Another thing Triple H talked about with Stone Cold was scripted promos. He likes promos to be more natural and doesn’t believe everything needs to be scripted. Also, with Triple H in charge, the wrestlers have a choice. If a guy likes to be scripted that option will be there for them, but if they have the ability and want to be more impromptu, then they will have the option to ad-lib their promos. Nothing sounds better than a wrestler who can free style a promo. Everything is scripted in the WWE right now and it’s obvious and weakens the product.
Of course there cannot be a strong product without the performance of the wrestlers. There’s a great mix of up-and-comers and experienced indy guys in NXT right now. I honestly believe that if it were up to Vince McMahon, a lot of these guys would not be where they are today. Some of the best workers in NXT history are not typical WWE guys. Owens and Wyatt look out of shape. Neville, Itami and Balor are obviously too small. Bottom line, NXT provides these guys a platform to prove they belong and can be spectacular on the big stage. Also, the willingness to give wrestlers from “Ring of Honor,” “New Japan Pro Wrestling” and other organizations a chance is really changing the game.
[adinserter block=”2″]Finally, the pacing of NXT is perfect. The weekly shows are an hour and their special events are two hours. On Stone Cold’s podcast Triple H also mentioned how he wished RAW went back to two hours. NXT does not waste time with pointless promos or recap fillers. There are times when RAW will go 20 minutes before any action takes place. Specifically on the special events, the show flows so nicely and is an easy product to watch and enjoy.
So, because of the decision of Triple H, NXT is a better and more enjoyable show than RAW or SmackDown. Everything he believes in is showing, and is creating a ripple effect throughout the organization. From the performers he hires, length of shows, freedom of the promos and the length of programs, NXT is in a great place to not only be an alternative to WWE, but maybe provide the fire of competition they have been lacking for so many years. I will continue to tune into RAW and SmackDown because I enjoy many of the workers, but just know NXT is my show of choice.