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The Decline of NXT - When? How? Why?

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Imagine if you could go back to the 1980's & have that WWF roster. But then all of those talented wrestlers were trained at a WWE style Performance Center.

Dusty Rhodes, Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Honky Tonk Man, Curt Hennig, Rick Rude, etc.

All those guys going through a factory instead of working in Memphis, Florida, Minnesota, Calgary...

The last few years, NXT has been home grown WWE guys while they sign-up anyone with buzz from working Independents.

Well, now all the Indy buzz guys are gone or signed. So you just have WWE home growns without any experience learning their craft elsewhere. So you get guys like Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens as main eventers. 

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2 hours ago, Coffey said:

Imagine if you could go back to the 1980's & have that WWF roster. But then all of those talented wrestlers were trained at a WWE style Performance Center.

Dusty Rhodes, Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Honky Tonk Man, Curt Hennig, Rick Rude, etc.

All those guys going through a factory instead of working in Memphis, Florida, Minnesota, Calgary...

The last few years, NXT has been home grown WWE guys while they sign-up anyone with buzz from working Independents.

Well, now all the Indy buzz guys are gone or signed. So you just have WWE home growns without any experience learning their craft elsewhere. So you get guys like Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens as main eventers. 

So true, even if you listened to Finn on that watch along for SummerSlam '92. He said that when he first got to NXT. That Juice and himself had a Japanese style match at a house show and when they got to the back Terry fucking Taylor told them their match was awful then Finn said their next match the next night together they had the match Terry laid out and was a basic WWE squash match but Finn said that it made him look like a star. That's the problem right there. WWE honestly believes their way is the ONLY way and if they were right then their ratings wouldn't be trash and they would actually have stars that can draw but all they have is just the name. That's all that sells tickets is the brand. Wrestlemania sells out because it's Wrestlemania sure as hell not cause of who is on the card.

It's almost laughable at this point that WWE believes their way is the correct way. It's wrestling there is no real correct way. It's all about suspending belief and getting a reaction from the fans if you can do that you are going to be a success. NXT's biggest problem in my own opinion is everything they are doing is just trying to counter program AEW, and just not putting people in the right places. It's just a matter of time before they ruin this Kross storyline. Now they are doing Pat McAfee and Adam Cole feud? Like really....who gives a shit about that. It's just bad......

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14 hours ago, ColdStone said:

It's almost laughable at this point that WWE believes their way is the correct way.

And maybe it needs to be asked - when has the WWE way (ie. Vince McMahon way) ever been the correct way? Is it fair to say that other than lucking into Hogan, Austin and Rock, that the company has been a shambles and McMahon doesn't know what the hell he's doing? Hell, Austin and Rock were nearly ruined before they even got going - where would the company be if that had happened? So you've got the period between Hulkamania and the Attitude Era, which was a complete tire fire, and since the end of Attitude it's been a significant, continual decline. Of the 36 years in the modern era, you've got what, 10 successful years? 

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In-ring, WWE's style is not necessarily the worst one ever. In fact, more often than not it's good, very good. 

The underlying issues is what goes on between the matches, which I believe is what @World's Worst Manmentioned here. While they did have 4 of the greatest superstars the industry has seen, how much of that was intentional, and how much was pure dumb luck? Austin debuted as The Ringmaster and got the Million Dollar Belt. Huh. Rocky Maivia was far from being over as a smiling babyface and that story has been told many times. Cena was supposed to get fired. Only Hogan seems like the outliar here.

They have talent in spades. Their match formula is decent. They utterly fail at producing individuals, though. The corporate machine is more important than any personality, and unluckily enough for them, some of the few that seem to outgrow or even deviate from it, like Riddle and Dream, have enough problems to undercut them, justifiably so, even.

 

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I think the key with Austin and Rock is that they reacted to what wasn’t working and then listened to the crowd and used that to steer them, wasting no time to strike when the iron is hot. They just don’t do that anymore; either they’re not capable or they’re wilfully ignorant of their live crowds. As Vince gets older, he seems to become fully like his father in the sense that he gets a plan for a certain match at a certain time and nothing will break that vision, even if something else hot comes along. His hard-on for second generation wrestlers is seemingly getting more powerful too.

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I don't think they aren't capable. Kofi became a champ after a massive outcry, and Becky gave a heel promo right when she was on her hot streak (it was during Summerslam '18 IIRC) which they never acknowledged again, so they still *can* change the course of the ship when needed.

However, they just can't be assed to do it. I mean... just look at those two no-brainers. People had to beg to give Kofi a title reign, and they even entertained the idea of Becky turning heel. They are so stubborn, man.

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1 hour ago, KawadaSmile said:

Becky gave a heel promo right when she was on her hot streak (it was during Summerslam '18 IIRC) which they never acknowledged again

They spent quite some time trying to make Becky the heel in the feud with Charlotte before they gave in and went with her as the ace. She literally tried to run away during her match with Charlotte at Evolution, which was the feud ender. They would probably never have given in had she not got her nose broken on Raw and become even more over in the process. 

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2 hours ago, KawadaSmile said:

Austin debuted as The Ringmaster and got the Million Dollar Belt. Huh. Rocky Maivia was far from being over as a smiling babyface and that story has been told many times. Cena was supposed to get fired. Only Hogan seems like the outliar here.

WWE Revisionist History *really* wants people to forget that Hogan was a huge star in the AWA and from Rocky III before his big run. You can make the argument that Vince has never been able to build a major star, and it took people having the highest levels of undeniable star power (Austin/Rock/Cena) to overcome it.

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12 minutes ago, sek69 said:

WWE Revisionist History *really* wants people to forget that Hogan was a huge star in the AWA and from Rocky III before his big run.

Yeah, that's a big one. Hogan was huge *before* he even step foot in WWF. It's one of the big "what if" of US wrestling history. What if Hogan doesn't go to the WWF, stays a while in AWA then gets a check from Crockett/WCW in the late 80's ? Vince got Hogan when everything about him was made (the look, the match style, the entrance, the promos). It's like getting Goldy in the Summer/Fall of 1998.

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Hulk's main income was Japan, so I could see an alternate universe where he becomes like Stan Hansen where he's a big star in Japan and occasionally comes to the US for short trips between tours.

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5 hours ago, sek69 said:

WWE Revisionist History *really* wants people to forget that Hogan was a huge star in the AWA and from Rocky III before his big run. You can make the argument that Vince has never been able to build a major star, and it took people having the highest levels of undeniable star power (Austin/Rock/Cena) to overcome it.

It needs to be said. Hulk Hogan was a finished product in the AWA. Hulkamania was there and he was cutting Hulkamania promos that were less cartoon. Go look at that title match with Nick Bockwinkel. He comes out to a massive pop. Vince just took it and put it on a bigger stage and didn't try to steal his merch money like Verne.

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Oh yeah, if Verne hadn't been so carny in trying to steal Hogan's merch money from Japan, Hogan would've been his meal ticket to make the AWA a serious competition to WWF around that time. And having Hogan as the AWA World champion back then would've more than likely meant less people making the jump to WWF and Vince might've struggled more than he did to launch his global domination thing. Hell, he might've been tempted to keep Bob Backlund longer as WWF Champion before annointing someone else as its top babyface. I've always felt like Verne delaying Hogan beating Bockwinkel for the title was only the straw that broke the camel's back while the merch money thing from Japan was really the crux of the problems between Hogan and Verne.

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7 hours ago, sek69 said:

Hulk's main income was Japan, so I could see an alternate universe where he becomes like Stan Hansen where he's a big star in Japan and occasionally comes to the US for short trips between tours.

Exactly. Pus he said it himself, the IWGP belt was the only belt that mattered... All jokes aside, Hogan could have been an Inoki guy forever indeed. And we'd have had Vader vs Hogan, japanese style at the Dome instead of those awful 95 matches.

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The problem at the end of the day is that there was no way Verne could have matched what Vince was offering. Acquiescing to Hogan's demands to make him champion would have been even worse for the AWA in the long run because he still would have left without notice and the world champion in the eyes of their fans would have been working for the opposition. And for the record, Hogan/Vader at Superbrawl was really good.

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You guys are selling Vince and the WWF/WWE short.

Vince didn't just stumble upon Hogan, Austin, Rock and Cena. Every time the WWF has been hot, the brand and every wrestler on the card seems better than the alternative. People weren't just into Hogan, they were into every wrestler up and down the card. I could tell you every angle that was happening in every match on every PPV from the 80s and early 90s. Subsequent booms weren't that strong, but the WWF machine knew how to make stars. Do you really think Foley, Undertaker, Benoit or Jericho were bigger stars in WCW than in the WWF? Michaels and Hart wouldn't be stars with the WWF. The WWF has always been good at getting wrestlers over. The thing Vince has always been afraid of is being on the bones of his ass like in the mid-90s, and relying on a star over the brand. Vince may not be a creative genius, but the old chestnut of him being lucky is ridiculous. As if Verne Gagne could have made Hogan into an international star. Do you really think I would ever have heard about Hulk Hogan down in little old New Zealand if Verne Gage had been his promoter? C'mon. Half of it wasn't about the workers but the production and the marketing. 

It's true that Vince has become conservative in his old age, but don't sell him short as a promoter. 

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I don't think they are arguing Vince promoting skills (I hope that's never in question tbh), they are putting into scrutiny his creativity and that even when business was booming, it was never something he actually came up with (I guess the biggest argument here would be him pushing the Austin vs authority angle that was incredibly successful, to the point Vince was never able to move past that). And as he has gotten older, he hasn't been able to adapt like he used to.

 

Even in the case of Kofi and Becky, while he did change course and went with the hot hand(s), he wasn't able to capitalize. Specially with Becky.

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5 hours ago, ohtani's jacket said:

People weren't just into Hogan, they were into every wrestler up and down the card.

Because they were into Hogan/Rock/Austin first and foremost. When the entire program is hot because the big star on top is hot, everyone *seems* over. Yeah, Val Venis, Too Cool or Brutus Beefcake were getting monstruous pops back then, but to argue they were, out of themselves, "big stars" is ignoring the entire context of when and where. 

5 hours ago, ohtani's jacket said:

You guys are selling Vince and the WWF/WWE short.I could tell you every angle that was happening in every match on every PPV from the 80s and early 90s.

That's because you were young and became a fan then. I can give you every match and angle happening in the mid 90's. That includes TL Hoper vignettes, angles like Crush & Doing, Henry Godwinn vs the Million Dollar Corporation and shit. Also, there were a lot less angles back then because the TV did not work the same way. Again, context changes everything, both personal context of the watcher and the context of the business structure.

5 hours ago, ohtani's jacket said:

Vince may not be a creative genius, but the old chestnut of him being lucky is ridiculous.

It's a fact. He was lucky Steve Austin and The Rock got themselves over despite the terrible ideas they were given. Of course then he was really good at promoting them, but he stumbled on those two, especially Austin.

The one thing no one should ignore is that the one thing Vince was the most lucky about is something he could not do anything about : the people running WCW were idiots. Because on paper, Vince doesn't win that fight. Only gigantic idiots could run that operation into the ground like they did with so much talent, money and great TV spot. Vince was definitely very lucky on that one.

No one is saying Vince was never a great promoter, but ignoring the fact Hulk Hogan was a huge star before he ever got to WWF is revisionism. Verne did not have to make him an international name, Rocky III did it for him, and Inoki made him in Japan, which was the richest territory then. It's like pretending WWF made Hogan in one day and people got crazy because of the genius work of Vince when Hogan showed up and beat Sheky Baby. Nope. 

On a way smaller scope, same thing when AJ Styles shows up at the Rumble. "No one watches TNA" and NJPW is "japanese shit", but when the guy shows up, people give him the Warrior pop, because he is already made. How odd.

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Hogan didn't become famous because of Rocky III and New Japan. He became famous because of national expansion. If he'd never left Verne, he'd be a lesser known celebrity than Mr. T. Do you really think the momentum Hogan had after defeating the Sheik had anything to do with Rocky III, his hot run in the AWA, or the fact that he worked dates in Japan? You think the WWF's growing fanbase in the mid-80s had seen any of that, or had any idea it had happened? The further you get away from '82, the further away you get from kids having seen or heard of Rocky III. Rocky III was a box office hit, but let's not pretend it was some kind of seminal cultural moment. So, the argument here is that Hogan didn't "make" Hogan. That's true. A large part of Hogan's character was fleshed out in the AWA. It wasn't as polished as it would become in the WWF, but he was already calling himself the Hulkster and talking about Hulkamania running wild. But he didn't just fall in VInce's lap. Vince handpicked him for national expansion. 

The fact that Austin and Rock had shitty gimmicks before they got over is hardly unique or surprising. That's how wrestling works. That's how creative endeavors work. It would be great if you came up with a successful idea every time you tried, but it doesn't work like that in any creative field. One of the biggest problems in this micro-managed era is they are trying to produce a factory line of stars instead of throwing shit against the wall. It's very apparent that Vince is old and past his prime as a promoter. We all know the system doesn't work. Hell, I'm not even sure Vince wants to create another big star. I think he wants the brand to be the star. 

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On a first glance, the saying often has been that Vince has good eye for talent and knows how to get them over, but if you look at it in details, you can come up with a long list of stars that got to the star level in spite of their booking or what Vince saw in them, not because of it:

- Austin is an obvious candidate

- for the Rock it was obvious that they saw a lot in him, but his first run almost killed him

- Cena was probably not that far away from getting released at the next spring cleaning

- Foley was at first only brought in as yet-another-monster for the Undertaker

- Jericho came in hot, but until the Unified title run (and even afterwards), he was (besides the hot program he had with Triple H in spring / early summer of 2000) not much further up the totem pole than he was in WCW

- besides the world title run in 04, Benoit did about as much in WCW as he did in WWF/WWE (upper mid card guy who could be trusted to always have a good to great match)

- Eddie came in as a package deal with the Radicals, apparently he was the one they were interested in the least (Benoit and Saturn were considered as the ones with the star potential; I forget about Malenko, but I assume they thought they could use him as cornerstone of the Lightheavyweight division, as the did for a short time)

- ignoring how WWE slept on a lot of guys in the early 2000s, even when they eventually got them, they almost resented when they got over more then they expected them to (see Daniel Bryan's Yes-phase)

- without the steroid scandal, Bret (and maybe even Shawn) would have never gotten the run he eventually had

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With Austin and Rock it was their promo ability that made them superstars. Austin had his "Austin 3:16" and Rock was able to channel his anger at the fans that shit on his babyface run when he joined the Nation. It's unlikely either one would have had the same chance in today's highly scripted and highly regimented WWE style.  I suppose Rock might have still had a chance because that level of charisma can overcome nearly anything, but the current system makes it very difficult to ever create a star of that magnitude again. Which seems to be how it is intended to work.

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On 8/6/2020 at 4:06 PM, KawadaSmile said:

I don't think they aren't capable. Kofi became a champ after a massive outcry, and Becky gave a heel promo right when she was on her hot streak (it was during Summerslam '18 IIRC) which they never acknowledged again, so they still *can* change the course of the ship when needed.

However, they just can't be assed to do it. I mean... just look at those two no-brainers. People had to beg to give Kofi a title reign, and they even entertained the idea of Becky turning heel. They are so stubborn, man.

Vince McMahon is trying to make the brand the sole draw because whenever the star is the draw, the draw leaves. I think he's paranoid. People look at WWE as a stepping stone to bigger things instead of the end goal.

Hogan left. Austin left. The Rock left. Sable left. Cena left. Ronda left. Brock left. Becky left. Roman left.

The circumstances of each are obviously different. And many came back & some like Cena were there forever, wanted to be there & were life long fans. But in Vince's crazy, deranged, "sneezing is a weakness" mindset, they all abandoned him. Much like when he tried to make a new Razor & Diesel after Nash & Hall left, he thinks it's his brand & his characters & his vision that is the draw, not the talent behind it. 

The only people I've really seen him give credit to is The Undertaker: A guy that came to WWF from WCW. That had a chance to leave & didn't. That has been there for thirty years that he can still call & talk into waddling to the ring with his broken body. And Triple H, whom married his daughter & has basically taken over half the company. Again, that came to WWF from WCW & stayed through everything, even after the MSG shit when everyone left & they buried him.

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1 hour ago, ohtani's jacket said:

Hogan didn't become famous because of Rocky III and New Japan. He became famous because of national expansion. If he'd never left Verne, he'd be a lesser known celebrity than Mr. T. Do you really think the momentum Hogan had after defeating the Sheik had anything to do with Rocky III, his hot run in the AWA, or the fact that he worked dates in Japan? You think the WWF's growing fanbase in the mid-80s had seen any of that, or had any idea it had happened? The further you get away from '82, the further away you get from kids having seen or heard of Rocky III. Rocky III was a box office hit, but let's not pretend it was some kind of seminal cultural moment. So, the argument here is that Hogan didn't "make" Hogan. That's true. A large part of Hogan's character was fleshed out in the AWA. It wasn't as polished as it would become in the WWF, but he was already calling himself the Hulkster and talking about Hulkamania running wild. But he didn't just fall in VInce's lap. Vince handpicked him for national expansion. 

No one is arguing Hogan was a worldwide phenomenon because of Rocky II and New Japan. I'm saying the WWE Narrative that Vince built Hulkamania is patently false since it existed prior to him arriving in the WWF. Vince gave him a national platform and was smart enough to get out of the way and let Hulk be Hulk. If he went to Crockett in 1983 instead it could have been a Road Warriors type situation where he would be one of the NWA's top stars while doing Japan tours (I know politics at the time would have got in the way since All Japan was the NWA affiliate at the time, but I'm fantasy booking here). 

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