I have written a lot about my love for NXT, it is the best wrestling product on TV at this point in time and it is the only one I actually make the effort to watch on a regular basis. However, inspired by a conversation on The Art of Wrestling, I want to take a slightly different look at NXT and how its success might actually end up being a bad thing.
While the WWE have been top of the mountain for a long time, there has always been alternatives if you wanted to go out and find them. While it is hard to say the same of it now, TNA used to provide great cruiserweight and women’s wrestling, while ROH gave you that American indie style, fast paced and often completely lacking in selling. They were alternatives to the product WWE put out and could both be found with a tiny bit of effort. It insured that WWE still didn’t have a total monopoly on the market, just a 90% one.
NXT changes that. Suddenly WWE has a product that gives fans those things, but has all of the WWE’s fantastic production values supporting it. It also has the added advantage of feeling cool. Whereas fans in the past might have chanted ROH at a WWE show, or even ECW if you go back far enough, in an act of rebellion, they now chant NXT. Sure, it’s rebelling against the main roster, but it’s doing so by pushing another WWE product. At the end of the day, WWE still wins. In guys like Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Solomon Crowe and Hideo Itami, they have a roster that can wrestle any style in the world. While NXT’s women’s division is consistently upping the game and proving that Divas do deserve a chance. NXT has become the alternative to WWE, while still being a part of WWE.
However, that isn’t the only issue with that great show. If you look at the current NXT roster, it is packed from top to bottom with guys that are more than capable of walking onto TV tomorrow and doing the business. No one can seriously tell me Sami Zayn isn’t ready for a main roster spot. Yet, how many of them are actually going to get there? WWE calls up maybe four guys a year? The night after Wrestlemania we saw Adrian Neville make his debut and the Lucha Dragons appeared on Raw after doing a few Main Event matches. So how long until the next batch get the call? I think it’s fair to say most of the women will make the step, they are so far ahead of most of the ‘Divas’ WWE currently has, that it would be insanity not to let them grab the ‘brass ring’, but what about someone like Tye Dillinger? A guy who is widely praised by his peers, but hasn’t yet been given a proper chance on NXT. How long until he gets called up? Will he be on the NXT undercard for years to come?
We saw the first sign of talents coming wise to this in the last week or so, with CJ Parker being granted his release. Parker played a jobber to the stars on NXT, he was generally the guy called upon to be squashed by big names like Kevin Owens and even Alex Riley, when they were stepping into a NXT ring for the first time. However, much like Tye Dillinger you never saw him going further than NXT at this time. Something he obviously caught onto.
Whether this is a problem or not is really down to perspective. As a fan you are getting a great product, filled with great wrestlers some of who will make their way to Raw and some who may never leave NXT. You’ll pay your $9.99 and the WWE machine will roar on devouring everything in its path. For the wrestlers, maybe the regular paycheck and relative security that a WWE contract brings means being a mid carder in NXT is preferable to travelling the road, making your way as an independent wrestler and fair enough, if it works it works. However, it is worth remembering that just because NXT is there doesn’t mean we should turn our back on the real alternatives. There are hundreds of great indie shows out there form the likes of ROH, PWG, Chikara or Progress and ICW in bonny old Blighty. NXT is and will hopefully continue to be a great product, but lets not allow the WWE to truly become the only game in town.