Now more than ever, wrestling fans have something for their tastes all over the world.
In the early 2000s with the demise of WCW fresh in the memory, it seemed like WWE was the only option. A great option, sure, but niche styles like Mexico and Japan were pretty much restricted to their own country.
Now, Lucha Underground, New Japan Pro Wrestling and many others have risen to prominence while Impact Wrestling - formerly known as TNA - and Ring of Honor have established themselves as viable places of work in the U.S.
While commercially Raw and SmackDown are still the two biggest wrestling shows on the planet, when it comes to critical acclaim, NXT seems to be the market leader.
Yes, Triple H's brainchild is meant to be WWE's developmental territory - at least in essence. However, the Yellow Brand has become the hottest destination for wrestling on the planet and any indie superstar aims to set foot in there.
Below, we explain why NXT is the best wrestling brand on the planet today.
Do you know one of the vital ingredients that made the Attitude Era so damn good? Why it's remembered so fondly? It was the depth of the main event scene. The sheer possibilities at hand and how TV could stay fresh as a result. Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, The Undertaker, Kane, Big Show, Mick Foley, Chris Jericho and even the likes of Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero made wrestling untouchable in 2000.
In 2018, NXT has EC3, Velveteen Dream, Tomasso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Aleister Black, Keith Lee, Lars Sullivan, Pete Dunne, Adam Cole, Richochet and Matt Riddle in their main event scene along with Shayna Baszler, Kairi Sane, Binaca Belair, Dakota Kai, Candice LeRae, Nikki Cross and Lacey Evans all viable contenders for the title on the women's side. And there's certainly some I have missed. It's a truly deep roster and with only one hour of television each week, nothing gets stale.
Because of the aforementioned one hour of television, NXT is forced to focus on the stories they tell and, more importantly, make sure you don't forget about the superstars that aren't on TV. Vignettes, backstage packages and highlights have become NXT's hallmark for that and it keeps the whole roster in the forefront of your mind.
However, when we're talking about stories cultivated in NXT, you can't look any further than the layered, incredible job they did with Ciampa and Gargano. As tag partners in DIY, their eventual split, main event feud and now world title fixations have shown the art behind wrestling. The 'who attacked Aleister Black' angle was also the best 'whodunnit' angle wrestling has seen in years - it's genius stuff.
With maybe WrestleKingdom and WrestleMania aside - and that's a big maybe - NXT TakeOver shows are the best wrestling shows on the planet. When it comes to pure wrestling, NXT TakeOver can't be matched and Dave Meltzer has seen fit to award more five-star matches at those shows in 2018 than on the main roster of WWE.
It could help that NXT do not have a pay-per-view every since month and the five that they do have each year gives the company plenty of time to create the stories that the fans get truly invested in. That's why a meeting between Velveteen Dream and Aleister Black means much more than, say, the six-woman tag match at Evolution this Sunday between Sasha Banks, Bayley, & Natalya Vs The Riott Squad - we've seen it so many times.
The turnover of talent
One of the reasons NXT stays fresh is because no talent stays around for more than two of three years and a lot of the time, it's a lot shorter than that. Preparing the talent for the main roster and making them comfortable with the WWE style is the ultimate goal and when you look at the main roster today, close to 80% of the talent has passed through WWE's Orlando base.
The Shield, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, The Four Horsewomen, Bray Wyatt, Drew McIntyre, Braun Strowman, Alexa Bliss, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Big E are just some of the big names that have come through the WWE's NXT system and because the landscape is constantly changing in Orlando, there is always a new character or indie sensation to get excited about. How many times did we see Randy Orton Vs John Cena on WWE TV? A repetitive match/feud never happens in NXT.
I can't stress enough how important it is to have a 'voice' or a company. Growing up as a kid - and many, many fans will resonate with me here - Jim Ross, aka good ol' JR, was the voice of wrestling and Monday Night Raw. He gave the show a feel and an energy that no one else could replicate.
Mauro Ranallo has that same ability. His passion for the product totally immerses you in the action while he's calling it and not only does he make it feel like it's the most important match you've ever seen, he helps suspend your belief that this is indeed some of the most intense action you'll ever see. Without Ranallo's palpable love for the product, it might not translate into our hearts the way it does. He's special.
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