Last week, I talked about some things that WWE does right. I talked about the WWE Network. I discussed their charity work and the positive messages they try to send about patriotism and kindness. Mostly, I talked about the huge success of WWE’s Women’s Revolution.
After thinking it over, it occurred to me that I missed one of WWE’s biggest recent successes. One of the most important things that WWE has gotten right is NXT. More than just a developmental territory, NXT has become one of the hottest brands in all of sports entertainment. It’s the flagship show for the WWE Network (if you discount the monthly PPV offerings), and has become the proving ground for many of the stars on WWE’s main roster.
To be fair, not every week of NXT programming is must-see TV. However, more often than not, the show is the best of WWE’s weekly offerings. Not every superstar who has ascended from Full Sail University has become a big factor on the main roster. However, for every Apollo Crews, there has been a Finn Balor, a Samoa Joe, or a Shinsuke Nakamura. NXT is the future of WWE, and may be the company’s biggest asset.
For all of the outstanding TakeOver specials and its weekly TV show, NXT exists primarily to create and hone WWE superstars. While not every NXT alum has rocketed to the top of the main roster, the success rate is amazingly high. Looking at WWE’s main roster, it’s easy to see that a lot of the top talent worked its way up from Florida.
Success Stories – (NXT Alums That Have Made an Impact):
Alexa Bliss; Dean Ambrose; Roman Reigns; Seth Rollins; Big E; Neville; Baron Corbin; Bayley; Becky Lynch; Bray Wyatt; Carmella; Charlotte Flair; Corey Graves; Elias; Finn Balor; Kevin Owens; Nia Jax; Braun Strowman; Samoa Joe; Sasha Banks: Shinsuke Nakamura.
One could argue that WWE’s Women’s Revolution would have failed if not for the stars that started in NXT. Imagine the WWE roster without Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Bayley, Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks and Nia Jax. Suddenly, the cupboard becomes very bare. With the ever-dominant Asuka on her way to Raw, it will take a while for NXT to come up with the next round of fantastic females. However, the Mae Young Classic just wrapped up on the Network, and an influx of talent is sure to follow.
There are title-holders (Ambrose and Rollins; Bliss; Big E; Neville), No. 1 contenders (Braun Strowman; Shinsuke Nakamura; Nia Jax and Carmella, if you count her briefcase), former champions (Ambrose; Rollins; Reigns; Bayley; Lynch, Wyatt, Banks, Flair, Balor and Owens) and other performers who are always at or near the top of the card (many of those already mentioned along with Corbin; Joe and recently, Elias). If there was no NXT, WWE’s weekly programming would be much less interesting.
Abject Failures – (NXT Alums That Flamed Out):
The Vaudevillains; Apollo Crews; Dana Brooke; Luke Harper, Erick Rowan; Kalisto; The Ascension; Any Cruiserweight not named Neville.
This list is surprisingly short. There are a lot of former NXT stars that haven’t caught on yet, but still have hope for the future. These folks seem to have disappeared into Darren Young’s Basement or some other location never shown on WWE TV. I still hold out hope for Harper, Rowan and the Ascension, but I’m not holding my breath.
Jury Still Out – (NXT Alums That Haven’t Made it Yet, but Still Have Hope):
Aiden English; Big Cass; Enzo Amore; Bo Dallas; Bobby Roode; Chad Gable; Jason Jordan; Tye Dillinger; The Revival; Emma; Jason Jordan; Sami Zayn; Tyler Breeze.
The prospects vary wildly here. There are some who seem destined for eventual greatness (Booby Roode; The Revival) and some who should have already found it, but are hamstrung by bad booking or sappy storylines (Sami Zayn; Jason Jordan). Others looked like failures but have found new life with new characters (Bo Dallas; Tyler Breeze; maybe Aiden English). With the others, only time will tell. I have high hopes for Jordan and Emma, but only time will tell.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. I’m sure there are performers in all three categories that I’ve left out. I’m sure that some are possibly in the wrong category. No matter how you look at it, NXT has been a rousing success for WWE.
The cupboard isn’t bare at Full Sail, either. Drew McIntyre, SAnitY, the Authors of Pain, Roderick Strong, Aleister Black, and the Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish), just to name a few, are all poised to make the jump to the main roster soon. As HHH has often said, NXT is the future of WWE. The future looks bright.
See you next time.