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The Decline of NXT - When? How? Why?

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59 minutes ago, MoS said:

Honestly, as annoying as I found it, Shawn was still good and charismatic enough to get away with it. It could be corny but it was not nearly as nauseating as it is when his ripoffs do it. Plus, a while back they were restricted to legends matches and basically existed in a self-contained world of their own. However, it is a terrible terrible template to build your world title main event scene on, and Shawn becoming a trainer has definitely played a role in it. This reminds me of the GOAT discussions where @Matt D used to talk about Arn's agenting and whether that should factor in while analysing his case. I have definitely seen Shawn going down people's lists recently because of the NXT main event style, and it's actually an interesting point to discuss. 

I wasn't going to bring this up because :

1.) it seemed a little self-serving, especially because it's consistent with at least my view of Shawn over the years.

and 

2.) During GWE, as I've stated before, one argument for cinematic Shawn was that he had good ideas but not the acting chops to pull them off and that he'd be a better director than an actor in this regard, and that is probably the single most erroneous take I've had in the entire 2010s. 

But yeah, have at it. There's definitely a throughline between Shawn the wrestler and Shawn the agent.

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3 hours ago, MoS said:

This is only tangentially related, but I think putting it directly head to head with AEW did not help its vibe. It went from being a cool alternative to main roster WWE to being a billion dollar corporation tool being used to put down another cool alternative to main roster WWE. If Vince wanted to nip AEW in the bud he should have probably put Smackdown against it or something. 

I dunno, bubba. NXT was problematic way before it became a live show and started competing with AEW. In fact, early NXT (as in 2012-2016) feels very much like AEW does now. If we had that same spirit in today's NXT, things would be better not only for them, but for Wednesday nights as well.

I'd say the things you highlighted are in  a different order: it's not a cool alternative that became a corporate tool. It's a corporate tool that is trying to be the cool alternative once more.

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2 hours ago, El-P said:

"Sorry I love you" ruined pro-wrestling.

Well, not really, but the old idea of self-conscious epic in WWE was annoying in itself before, but this spot is the beginning of the super-über-melodramatic-poorly-acted-self-conscious-epic. 

I agree with this 100%. 
 

I'm like a broken record, but Shawn Michaels is the guy that has done the most damage to wrestling (in-ring*) for me. He was the first guy to talk about “stealing the show” and putting on the best match instead of winning championships or beating up a guy you hate. My least favorite wrestling is “let’s have a great match” wrestling. 
 

*Backstage, I think the most damaging thing done to wrestling is everyone being “just happy to be there”. Guys used to at least attempt to protect their characters. Now, everyone is so happy to be in WWE, they’ll go along with whatever is handed to them. But that’s another subject. 

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Yes- wrestling was much better when it was the idea of hard drinking weirdos fighting for money than corporate schills fighting for... I don't know exactly. 

I like Keith Lee though he seems like a good laugh 

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2 hours ago, Dale Wolfe said:

Yes- wrestling was much better when it was the idea of hard drinking weirdos fighting for money than corporate schills fighting for... I don't know exactly. 

I like Keith Lee though he seems like a good laugh 

"This is awesome!" chants?

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1 hour ago, Log said:

"This is awesome!" chants?

They do it themselves now that they also play the crowd. The circle of life is complete !

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I think the staleness at the top of the product on the main roster has also hurt them. You look at the pushes Steen, Balor, Nakamura, even Joe got on the main roster - they were all pretty solid, even if there were mistakes made. Obviously, the Horsewomen got giant pushes too. But now all those people are still there, as are the people from before they got pushed (Miz, Ziggler, etc.) and there's a log jam that makes it almost impossible to feel like there's upward mobility (see the treatment of Ricochet, Black, Andrade). That flip has really happened in the last two years (starting with Andrade, I'd say) and just sucked the energy out of NXT. Plus, the guys that rose to the top at that time were guys who were so obviously not Vince prototypes because of sizw (Gargano, Ciampa, Cole) and you get the feeling that the NXT characters have barely moved at all since 2018. If Gargano and Ciampa had moved to the main roster after the blowoff, I'm not sure we'd be saying that was the end of NXT.

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40 minutes ago, Migs said:

I think the staleness at the top of the product on the main roster has also hurt them. You look at the pushes Steen, Balor, Nakamura, even Joe got on the main roster - they were all pretty solid, even if there were mistakes made. Obviously, the Horsewomen got giant pushes too. But now all those people are still there, as are the people from before they got pushed (Miz, Ziggler, etc.) and there's a log jam that makes it almost impossible to feel like there's upward mobility (see the treatment of Ricochet, Black, Andrade). That flip has really happened in the last two years (starting with Andrade, I'd say) and just sucked the energy out of NXT. Plus, the guys that rose to the top at that time were guys who were so obviously not Vince prototypes because of sizw (Gargano, Ciampa, Cole) and you get the feeling that the NXT characters have barely moved at all since 2018. If Gargano and Ciampa had moved to the main roster after the blowoff, I'm not sure we'd be saying that was the end of NXT.

The person to keep forever in NXT was Bayley. With a studio show, you can run a top babyface for a lot longer and she could have carried that brand like its Hogan or Sting for years, especially when you factor in that people would only see her live once or twice a year tops at house shows. She would have meant so much more in NXT than on the main roster.

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Remember when 2 Outta 3 Falls matches were THE gimmick match in NXT? A big part of what helped NXT feel fresh and different was how stripped down it was in terms of stipulations. It was a savvy move, because WWE has gimmick matches out the nose that feuds get shoehorned into just because. Those gimmick matches are kneecapped because they can't do blood and, for the most part, the promotion and workers are damn near incapable of conveying any sort of real hatred. A cage match shouldn't need weapons and they shouldn't be about big, athletic spots. By going with that 2/3 stip, it let NXT lean into what worked and what they did best.

I think the last couple years of NXT has really shown that HHH can't all an audible when he should. Gargano and Ciampa should've been kept far, far away from each other a long time ago. I'd even argue that once Ciampa got injured the first time, that should've been it for the angle. I'll reiterate the Keith Lee point by saying I don't need to. Ember Moon should've beat Asuka for the belt, instead of winning it in a Fatal Four Way after Asuka got injured. He's too committed  to seeing his story through instead of...doing what's best for business. (Sorry. Had to.)
 

 

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7 hours ago, KawadaSmile said:

I dunno, bubba. NXT was problematic way before it became a live show and started competing with AEW. In fact, early NXT (as in 2012-2016) feels very much like AEW does now. If we had that same spirit in today's NXT, things would be better not only for them, but for Wednesday nights as well.

I'd say the things you highlighted are in  a different order: it's not a cool alternative that became a corporate tool. It's a corporate tool that is trying to be the cool alternative once more.

Fair point, although I will say that a shift to two hours on prime time would have made it a corporate tool regardless. 

8 hours ago, Matt D said:

During GWE, as I've stated before, one argument for cinematic Shawn was that he had good ideas but not the acting chops to pull them off and that he'd be a better director than an actor in this regard, and that is probably the single most erroneous take I've had in the entire 2010s. 

But yeah, have at it. There's definitely a throughline between Shawn the wrestler and Shawn the agent.

Hey maybe Shawn just needs his Brando to come to NXT

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Dusty's death, NXT head writer Ryan Ward being promoted to the main roster, the FCW hold over talent moving up to the main roster, long time soundboards character developmental wise Xavier Woods and Tyler Breeze being promoted to the main roster, signing people off the indies so no one else could have them rather out of their actual potential or need for them in NXT or the main roster, the advent of the Shawn Michaels advanced class being the final exam that everyone works towards now.

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NXT stars, the men in particular, are in the same age bracket as the main roster's big names. 

Factor in most of these guys having serious mileage from their independent days, and many of them aren't going to reach what is seen as their full potential. WWE can certainly do more to try, but not getting more talent earlier in their careers or building them from scratch hurts all around. It speaks to how important getting the three Shield guys to the main roster at 26/27 was, to say nothing of the push they got.

I agree with a lot of what's been posted already. I'll add that I think NXT began to subtly shift when Kevin Owens arrived. He was the first guy they really pushed as a hot indie commodity. They did the smart thing with getting KO in and out of NXT in eight months or so. But after KO, we got Balor, Roode, Nakamura, Joe, Black, Ricochet, Gargano, Ciampa and TUE. McIntyre got the 'went to the indies to redeem himself on his way back to WWE' motif. They went so far in signing the hot indie names--which has been discussed elsewhere--it's kept new PC signees lurking in the shadows with little chance of moving up. That catches up sooner or later.

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When it comes to creating homegrowns the lack of one to one training time/the wrestler to coach ratio is a real issue there. If you know anyone about the situation people will tell you the coaches are SO overstretched there due to the amount of talent on the books.

Also with it being an in-house training facility run by a publicly-traded company coaches and management often are reluctant to give truly honest feedback or any feedback at all. 

Triple H/"the office" is overly concerned with cohesion to point questioning things and being assertive will get you heat for being pushy. Which doesn't really breed ambition or a front runner personality that you'd traditionally associate with a Pro Wrestling draw. 

 

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So much of the focus is put on the indy stars that the homegrown talent is left to rot at the PC, how many stories are there of folks who've been in "not even on NXT TV as a jobber"  hell at the PC for *years*.  You can't improve as a wrestler without wrestling, and all this stockpiling of talent just to play keep away is just causing more damage to the trainees.

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Again, the comparisons to AEW are apt when we talk about ages and exposure and getting time to develop (and what that really should mean).

I'd argue that Sammy Guevara (27), Darby Allin (27), and maybe even Jungle Boy (23) are "hotter" than anyone in NXT right now - and that includes Keith Lee, a guy that I (and many others here) were telling the company to strap a rocket to in November. A year from now, you can expect to see 2-out-of-3 of these guys challenging for the AEW Championship and being treated as stars. A year from now, Keith Lee will either be in the exact spot he is now or the main roster midcard. 

The number of championships is a whole company problem, but I think we can add "North American Championship" to the list of mistakes that have been made with NXT too. Why would a developmental league need multiple singles championships?? If the NXT Champion is already the historically *fifth* most important singles championship in the company (Universal, WWE, IC, and US would 1-4), then what kind of honor is it to win the 6th most important championship? Even the 24/7 or Cruiser* titles could be argued fit a niche, but the NA Title is wholly unnecessary. I can see the need for the UK Championship as NXT UK was a separate entity, but creating the North American Championship as a MacGuffin for storylines just showed the lack of creativity in the Creative Department. 

 

* I know there are some 205 Live fans, but personally, I think the entire idea of cruiserweights is silly and dumb when Adam fucking Cole is holding your heavyweight championship. That's a separate rant, though.

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We should establish a list of actual NXT produced workers who became something on the main roster. Not late FCW people, not indie people, not TNA/Japan/Mexico people, straight NXT bread and trained workers who became something on the main rosters... I feel the result would be pretty thin and not impressive in term of status. Probably the women of early NXT would end up being the most notable.

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There aren't really many early NXT women. Emma, Paige, Sasha, Bayley and Becky Lynch were all on the indies first and Charlotte Flair was trained in FCW.

Braun Strowman
Alexa Bliss
The Street Profits
Carmella
Liv Morgan
Chad Gable

Pretty sure that's it, and I'm stretching a bit with the last few.

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Baron Corbin. The joke writes itself. Then again, FCW was no great shakes in the talent development department either. They haven't had a developmental system that actually developed talent since OVW.

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18 hours ago, Burgundy LaRue said:

NXT stars, the men in particular, are in the same age bracket as the main roster's big names. 

Factor in most of these guys having serious mileage from their independent days, and many of them aren't going to reach what is seen as their full potential. WWE can certainly do more to try, but not getting more talent earlier in their careers or building them from scratch hurts all around. It speaks to how important getting the three Shield guys to the main roster at 26/27 was, to say nothing of the push they got.

I agree with a lot of what's been posted already. I'll add that I think NXT began to subtly shift when Kevin Owens arrived. He was the first guy they really pushed as a hot indie commodity. They did the smart thing with getting KO in and out of NXT in eight months or so. But after KO, we got Balor, Roode, Nakamura, Joe, Black, Ricochet, Gargano, Ciampa and TUE. McIntyre got the 'went to the indies to redeem himself on his way back to WWE' motif. They went so far in signing the hot indie names--which has been discussed elsewhere--it's kept new PC signees lurking in the shadows with little chance of moving up. That catches up sooner or later.

This is where they lost me. 

I recall Triple H talking in an interview about how NXT was like getting new action figures to play with, and all the dream matches you can think of to put together.

And thats all you saw. The NXT title bouncing around among all these guys, to the point you or I could write how these shows were gonna go.

-Kick-ass tag match featuring 2 of: American Alpha/The Revival/#DIY

-Pan to some legend sitting ringside, loving the action.

-Asuka beats some woman up and makes her tap out.

-Tyler Breeze (or someone on his level) loses to some new indy sign-ee.

-Pan to some big independent name -sitting in same seat legend earlier sat in- who just signed on to NXT (and will be in the main event in 2-3 Takeovers).

-Main event where new up-and-coming independent star (flavor of the month/Takeover) beats the champion, who is about to get the call-up. 

(Bonus points if Finn Balor dons Demon make-up and does BDSM entrance.)

Although the Adam Cole signing was when I threw in the towel. I was never crazy about him.

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1 hour ago, Kadaveri said:

There aren't really many early NXT women. Emma, Paige, Sasha, Bayley and Becky Lynch were all on the indies first and Charlotte Flair was trained in FCW.

Wow, I did not realize so many worked indies before (knew about Becky and Emma) and Charlotte was a product of FCW.

1 hour ago, Kadaveri said:

Braun Strowman
Alexa Bliss
The Street Profits
Carmella
Liv Morgan
Chad Gable

Shorty G is not what I call "going somewhere". :lol: He's clearly a guy who would need to fly the fuck away from the E.

Carmella is absolutely pushing it in term of actual talent, but hey, she survived Enzo & Cass so that's something.

Of those, I'd say Bliss & Strowman are the only ones I'd call really becoming "stars" and mainstays of the main roster.

53 minutes ago, NintendoLogic said:

Baron Corbin. The joke writes itself..

Bam !

Nia Jaxx ? ..... ok, nevermind.

48 minutes ago, KawadaSmile said:

Bianca Belair, folks. 

She should be the next big thing. Which probably means she won't. But yeah, can't miss.

So, we can safely say that NXT, as a star developmental system, is really a complete joke thus far (not to mention the creepy abuse stories from the Hugh Morrus days) and the entire thing has been a total smokescreen for Trip. By becoming an indie signing machine and failed AEW counter-programming, the smokescreen has vanished and, as we could say, the emperor is naked. 

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To be fair, you can credit them for finally finding something that clicked with Angelo Dawkins. Dude was around since the FCW days but he was always just kinda "there". He was touted as a guy that had the talent, but something about him just didn't click.

But you'd see him reinvent or try something new every few months, trying different things or looks. He stuck with it, while some just gave up.

True, he's become the Big Cass to Montez' Enzo now, but it works for them. And I find them entertaining.

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Montez Ford is another "how are they not making all the money with this guy?" situation. How did it take Paul Heyman running Raw for anyone in charge on the main roster to realize that maybe we should push the super charismatic guy?

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2 minutes ago, sek69 said:

Montez Ford is another "how are they not making all the money with this guy?" situation. How did it take Paul Heyman running Raw for anyone in charge on the main roster to realize that maybe we should push the super charismatic guy?

I mean why has Sami Zayn been a heel for most of his main roster tenure? Why did it take years to turn Sasha heel? There's a lot of questions to be asked.

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It is definitely remarkable that considering the number of charismatic guys they've had come up from FCW/NXT that could do the same job - Armando Estrada, Enzo, Lio Rush, even Montez Ford, god knows I'm probably forgetting a bunch of other names - they had to bring MVP back to lead a stable and "freshen things up."

Not saying MVP isn't good at what he does or didn't have a good run in the 00s...but I'm not sure what the point of NXT is if you can't use it to successfully create an MVP-level character. Its not like MVP was ever a top guy and his peak was what? 2008? 

It's a bit like bringing back goth/vampire/dark characters like Kevin Thorn or Gangrel to be on RAW when you've got goth/vampire/dark characters Karrion Kross and Dexter Lumis in your D-league. 

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