Over the past few years NXT has quickly become one of the hottest entities in the wrestling industry. Triple H successfully created a complementary show to WWE’s main product, an achievement that has long eluded Vince McMahon & WWE up to this point. WWE has made previous attempts in the past; the forsaken second coming of ECW quickly comes to mind. NXT is completely unique compared to WWE’s main television, coming across less polished & more organic.
NXT is already a very different entity than it was in 2014. Bo Dallas & Tyson Kidd have been replaced with legitimate main event players like Shinsuke Nakamura or Finn Balor. NXT enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity throughout 2014 thanks to the launch of the WWE network & that buzz eventually reached a fever pitch with the first NXT Brooklyn Takeover in 2015.
As the popularity of NXT grew so did expectations. Even non-wrestling fans know that Vince McMahon is one of the best business men of the past few decades (if not century). WWE saw a successful revenue generating project & decided to capitalize. Since 2015 NXT has consistently brought in established names to main event shows & ensure fans stay interested. NXT also began touring across the United States & even Internationally in places like the UK and Japan.
Today NXT is viewed as a near equal to Raw & Smackdown; that means they need star power. Right now, the NXT roster boasts Bobby Roode, Hideo Itami, Eric Young, Roderick Strong, Kassius Ohno, Drew Galloway, & Tommy End. An embarrassment of riches for a “developmental” brand. Any one of the superstars mentioned above could be called up to the main roster today and have a positive impact on Raw or Smackdown.
WWE tends to keep NXT’s bigger stars like Nakamura & Balor in the developmental brand for at least a year if not more. Triple H has even commented publicly that it can be frustrating when his main draws are called up to the main roster, leaving NXT to start from scratch. Therein lays the problem: NXT is a stepping stone, not the destination. Every time an NXT star is called up to the main roster it allows the next superstar in line to receive the spotlight in NXT.
By keeping so many high-quality superstars in NXT, WWE has oversaturated its product. Roderick Strong or Eric Young could easily be in the main event of NXT but instead occupy an already crowded midcard. There is just no reason to keep so many experienced wrestlers in NXT at one time. There simply isn’t enough time to highlight all of them on NXT television & WWE could be making more money with them on Raw or Smackdown.
Even Shinsuke Nakamura was arguably more popular when he debuted in NXT in 2016. By the time he was called up a few weeks ago, some of the mystique surrounding him had faded. Most of the wrestlers mentioned above are not young; WWE should be capitalizing on their talents while they can.
WWE seems to think that if they call up their established names from NXT on a more frequent basis it will hurt NXT’s popularity. While it certainly is possible & perhaps likely that live event ticket sales will dip every time a major superstar is called up from NXT, RAW & Smackdown will benefit from the new interest these call ups will bring. Isn’t that the entire point of NXT in the first place?
NXT should be a place where names like Bobby Roode & Drew Galloway acclimate or readjust themselves to the WWE style & then move on to make the company even more money on the main roster. The brand is literally called “NXT”, as in who is up next? Keeping quality superstars in NXT for periods longer than 6 months hurts NXT, WWE, & the individual superstars.