by Martin Dixon
It’s remarkable really, NXT has completely transformed from a haphazard “talent show”, openly mocked on air by contestants & contributors alike into perhaps the most consistently watchable hour of wrestling television ever produced. It also may be considered the opening salvo in WWEs run of great TV recently, and with the wrestling world abuzz after this weeks well received Sami Zayn/Antonio Cesaro 2 out of 3 falls match (I’ve seen it, twice, and in my humble opinion it really is a Match of the Year candidate, and given just what matches have taken place this year already, that’s a serious statement), what better time to look at the show as a whole and see just what I feel makes it great, what it could do better and what could & perhaps should happen next, or NXT as the case may be.
This may sound like a back handed compliment, but the lack of meddling from higher up WWE’s management is NXT’s saving grace. This is not perhaps as big an issue at this moment than in years past but the practise of “reactionary” writing on WWE television in response to ratings, immediate feedback etc. meant the programming often felt scattershot & inconsistent. This isn’t the case in NXT, its pre-taped nature means that storylines (however brief, stories rarely extend beyond a few weeks, but sometimes this can be a strength all in itself) are allowed to reach their conclusion as planned, instead of being warped & altered to suit various whims.
It’s the “under the radar” aspect of NXT that allows performers to hone their act before being called up to the main roster. This normally is the preserve of house shows, away from TV but NXT lets those fans in the know get a glimpse of what may be making an impact on Raw or Smackdown in the future. Take the Wyatt Family for instance, when the promo videos started appearing on Raw, some fans were intrigued as to just what was about to make it’s way onto their screens and were excited at the prospect of this creepy new act, those who had seen the family on NXT however were excited for entirely different reasons, we new what “the eater of worlds” was about and were eager to find out just how they would debut. This helped create more of a buzz as those in the know took to the Internet to tell all they knew about the Wyatts, thus getting more people talking about the new act, in effect we did WWE’s job for them.
Characters like the aforementioned Wyatt family are a huge plus point for me. Tyler Breeze’s new generation male model gimmick, Sami Zayn’s über talented underdog, whatever the hell Leo Kruger is supposed to be and yes, Bo Dallas’ delusional hated super face character are all hugely entertaining. (My 180 degree volte face on Bo may surprise you, and if enough of you ask for it I will explain myself in a future article). We’re now seemingly past the “trunks & boots” phase of wrestling and are getting some gimmicks back again, and entertaining ones at that.
Wrestling. Yep, NXT is match packed during it’s 1 hour (including commercials) runtime, with only promo videos and interview segments breaking up the action, save for the occasional dance contest (which is a front runner for my favourite non match segment of the year, thanks for asking) and even if the matches are short, their brevity still makes for good entertainment, but sometimes we get matches like THAT Zayn/Cesaro match. It feels like old school shows like Wrestling challenge or superstars.
Areas of opportunity
NXT being pre taped weeks in advance can be a little jarring at times, for someone who was only used to seeing Big E Langston as a heel, seeing him as a Babyface champion may have been a disconnect, as the reluctance to reference his NXT champion status on air must have been as well. With NXT supposedly taking place at the same time as regular programming (in kayfabe terms at least) these inconsistencies can turn off some fans, especially the younger ones who would actually probably enjoy the colourful characters & simple booking.
I’m expecting a lot of disagreement with this one, but when someone from the big brands appears on NXT, what harm would it do for them to lose? I’m referencing the recent appearances by Sheamus & Dolph Ziggler on the show in which they were victorious in their matches. I get that they’re big stars & wins & losses supposedly don’t matter in this day & age, but if that’s true, why couldn’t the NXT stars get their hands raised? It could only benefit them in the long run.
Here’s a simple idea: DO NOTHING. Facetious as that was its true, NXT in it’s current form is pretty much perfect, a bite sized chunk of well produced wrestling television, with some great performers, male & female with fun gimmicks having great matches. To tinker with this formula would be to ruin it, as with the original incarnation of NXT. That version of the show had so much promise, but descended into an overbooked farce that was removed from TV and had no real lasting legacy beyond it’s first “season”. That actually may have been the best thing to have happened, as without NXTs initial failure, we may never have gotten NXT in it’s current form and I think we can all agree that’s too terrible a thought to contemplate.
Do you agree with any of the points I’ve covered here? Do you believe I’ve gotten this all wrong? Have I really taken leave of my senses and abdicated my position as the original Bo hater? If you’ve any comments, questions and feedback of any kind, don’t hesitate to contact me on twitter at www.twitter.com/BunnySuicida and if I don’t hear from you in the meantime, thank you for reading this and remember to have fun with wrestling.
“Closet Bo-leiver” Martin Dixon