NXT is the brand of the people. Ever since the initial NXT Network special back in February 2014; NXT has provided an alternative product for new and old fans, a product that in-turn offers compelling storytelling combined with acclaimed in-ring work. Every edition of NXT: Takeover has been met with high praise all round; from praising the in-ring talent, to praising the production to even praising the pacing of the events themselves.
NXT became the brand to watch and invest in when successful independent names such as Neville, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, Adam Cole and Asuka (to name a few) joined the brand, but are we as an audience losing sight of what NXT was introduced into WWE programming for?
In the middle of May, it was revealed online that Lars Sullivan would be the one challenging reigning NXT Champion Aleister Black at NXT Takeover: Chicago II. This was a surprise to many; as it was expected that Black would find himself in the middle of the red-hot Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, but it was not to be. The reaction online was extremely negative; which took me by surprise. It feels like the fan-base have forgotten the very nature of what NXT is designed and produced for; to create new talent and henceforth new stars.
To claim that I would not be thrilled with getting a five-star clinic match for the NXT Title on every edition of Takeover would be incorrect; however how NXT presents their home-grown talent out of the WWE Performance Center is equally (if not more) important than how they present the talent from outside WWE.
Mr Five Star Match Sullivan has endless potential. Just taking a look at him makes you realise that he will certainly be a big player on the main roster, he has everything Vince likes in a talent. Sullivan is slowly becoming a star, following the acclaimed Ladder Match at Takeover: New Orleans, he unquestionably has momentum and confidence to deliver at a Takeover.
To those who question and want the talents such as Gargano and Ricochet competing for the prestigious NXT talent; I ask you this, do they need it? Those who come from successful independent backgrounds are always going to have some element of following and consequential crowd reaction that goes with them and their programmes within NXT.
Putting the NXT home grown talent in NXT Title feuds is a bold yet discretely smart idea. Booking a talent such as Sullivan in a NXT Title match at a Takeover tells everyone that he’s a big deal, we should care about him and we should believe him as a viable threat that may in-fact win the NXT Title because: the booking indicates that the individual is going to be a big deal and also that Triple H has faith in them.
The booking and work-rate of Velveteen Dream (A WWE produced character), should be evidence that fans should give the WWE-made talent a chance in the spotlight before casting judgment. Dream took a very new gimmick and property and in-turn crafted it into his own. 22 year-old Dream (yes, he’s only 22), along with Black produced one of the purest and sophisticated pieces of storytelling last year with the incredible ‘Say My Name’ angle.
Once again Dream has found himself in, if not the hottest feud in NXT, certainly the most intriguing. Dream will be going one-on-one with Ricochet. Ricochet, a man who made a name for himself outside WWE, has thus far been a tremendous fit within the current NXT product and seems on the surface to have fantastic and genuine chemistry with Dream.
This pairing could do wonders for managements faith in him. In regards to Dream, there isn’t a glass ceiling for him; everything the man seems to be doing on WWE programming is turning into gold.
It’s unknown if the crowd are going to invest in Sullivan as much as dream, and I am not claiming that’s an incorrect position, however, a WWE-produced talent has once again been paired with Black for a Takeover event (and it’s a title match no less), so all this piece serves as is a reminder to give the WWE-made talent a fair shot after all that’s what WWE was made to do… To create stars.