When WWE rebranded it's developmental system, Florida Championship Wrestling, as NXT in late 2012, many could have predicted the path it would take.
Over the course of just under four years, the NXT brand has skyrocketed to become one of the most popular and exciting wrestling shows in the world.
With its grassroots, independent feel and more wrestling-focussed attitude, NXT has won over an entirely new generation of fans, some who only watch WWE to see NXT.
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NXT has also helped attract some of the best wrestlers in the world to join the WWE organization; Austin Aries, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Steen, El Generico, even Jushin Thunder Liger made his WWE debut at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn.
NXT has also been credited with the revival of women’s wrestling in the company, leading to three of NXT’s finest female creations battling it out at WrestleMania 32 for the new Women’s Championship. In short, NXT has been nothing short of sensational.
However, nothing is perfect, and, despite all its incredible features, there are still a few tweaks that need to be made to NXT, in my opinion at least.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the show, but these are just a few of the very small changes I would make to NXT even more amazing than it already is.
BRINGING CHAMPIONS UP WITH THE BELT
When NXT wrestlers debut on the main roster, it’s usually a big deal. Fans are usually already familiar with the stars, so they know how good they are, often leading to huge support for the debuting wrestler, setting them up for great things within the company.
However, my issue is with WWE bringing champions on NXT up to the main roster whilst they still hold the belt.
Paige debuted as NXT Women’s Champion in 2013, Kevin Owens was NXT Champion when he made the jump last year, as was Sasha Banks. Whilst it’s great to see these great champions on the main roster, it does sort of ruin their appearances on NXT.
When you’re watching a champion on NXT who’s debuted on Raw or Smackdown already, you can’t help but get distracted by the fact that they will, inevitably, drop the title soon.
Paige was stripped of her title when she won the Divas Championship, which was fine, but Sasha Banks lost her title just over a month after her main roster debut, whilst Kevin Owens lost his NXT Championship in less than a month.
Having a champion on NXT appear on the main roster ruins the storyline on NXT; if the champ’s moved up to the main roster, it’s obvious that they can’t regularly appear on both shows for much longer, leading to them dropping the title shortly after.
With this current trend, NXT stands to lose out on a lot of great storylines. Whilst this is only a minor issue, it’s still a problem that some of the best stories in WWE are being hampered by the main roster wanting to bring talent up before the proper time.
NXT is taped in advance, which does make a lot of sense. They can tape lots of episodes in one go, which saves time and money on venue hire, they can sell more tickets in a shorter space of time and it means that the NXT wrestlers aren’t on such a gruelling schedule and that they’re available for more live events outside of Full Sail University.
But, for all its benefits, pre-taping NXT has its problems. As is always the case in WWE, things change. The episode of NXT before Takeover: Dallas featured Bull Dempsey in the main event, despite Bull being released from NXT a month before this episode airs.
While it’s never been a huge problem before, injuries can happen at any time in the future and, if a key wrestler gets injured whilst a storyline has only partly unfolded on TV, then it will be very, very difficult to cover it up.
With wrestling as volatile as it is, pre-taping may come back to haunt NXT in the near future. There’s also the issue of storylines getting leaked.
Fans who attend NXT tapings know months in advance how storylines will play out and, due to the huge influence of social media, a number of big storylines and developments have been leaked before playing out on TV.
Samoa Joe beating Sami for the number one contendership for Takeover: Dallas and the debuts of James Storm, Austin Aries and Shinsuke Nakamura were all reported way before they “officially” occurred on NXT TV, which did spoil some fans’ enjoyment of these great moments.
Making NXT live would cause a lot of problems, but, it may also move to solve some too. Debuts, title changes and other big developments would be protected from being leaked if the show went out live and, should any injuries befall the NXT roster, plans could be altered and there would be no embarrassment later on down the line.
IT'S ONLY AN HOUR LONG
Yes, yes, I know, part of what makes NXT great is that there isn’t enough time on the show to get bogged down in stupid promos or backstage segments, but I don’t think many fans would be too upset if the show was extended by at least half an hour.
Sometimes in NXT, certain feuds get left out of the weekly TV show because of time constraints, which is frustrating to fans who want to see the plot develop weekly.
Making the show just a little longer would be no problem as the NXT is diverse enough to support an extra match or two every week.
As NXT expands, it is inevitable that the show will have to get longer, but, there can be no doubt that, with the incredible talent, slick booking and great approach to the show in general, NXT can take it. So why not just extend the show now? Give more wrestlers a chance to shine and give the fans more of what they love.
Despite these tiny problems, NXT is still the best wrestling show on TV today. Hopefully, in the future, NXT can find a way to iron out these tiny creases, but, even if they don’t, there is no question that NXT will continue to excite, innovate and, most of all, entertain.