By Will Pruett, ProWrestling.net Senior Staffer (@itswilltime)
WWE has created something truly special with NXT. There’s no other way to say it. NXT has become the most consistent and coolest show on the national wrestling scene. It’s found a way to look and feel like your local indie promotion, but with decent lighting and national appeal. Growing a WWE brand into something with a cool factor without ruining it was like walking a tightrope (or like that weird bad looking tightrope movie from a couple years ago). It’s a great thing for wrestling and WWE.
With the success of NXT, WWE has also created a major problem. There are more wrestlers ready for and deserving spots on WWE’s main roster than ever. When today’s roster is compared with one from a decade ago, the difference is stark. WWE’s midcard acts today are main event level. WWE’s main eventers years ago could hardly touch what the newer main eventers can do now. With so many wrestlers deserving emphasis, it can be hard to feature everyone.
Add to this the expectation that wrestlers will move to the main roster soon after becoming major players in NXT. The men and women getting over in NXT are starting the clock on their eventual departure. Every year we wait with baited breath for the night after WrestleMania (and, to a smaller extent, the night after SummerSlam) for WWE’s main roster to expand. We eagerly anticipate a favorite getting “called up” to the main roster and put on one of WWE’s major traveling brands. It has become a moment in the careers of these humans.
What is to be done when the main roster becomes too big to write for and feature cohesively on a weekly basis? What can WWE do when there are not enough wrestlers to let go of, but still more deserving of bigger roles? How can WWE handle the best problem they could ever have (too much talent that is too good)?
It’s simple. WWE needs to start bringing main roster wrestlers down to the NXT brand.
The benefits of this strategy far outweigh the risks. Think of what a main event run in NXT could do for a wrestler like Cesaro. He’s easy to pick, since he has already done this kind of run, but think about it. Cesaro going to NXT and challenging for a few months (perhaps a Takeover main event) for the NXT Championship could be great. Cesaro would only get more over in the process. He’d likely sell more merchandise than he has in years. He’d seem cooler by simply appearing on the show.
If Cesaro is too easy of an example, how about a wrestler like Xavier Woods? Woods has nothing to prove and nothing to learn at this point, but returning to NXT and bringing in Big E and Kofi occasionally as backup, could help keep him fresh.
What about the massive amount of women on the main roster being given nothing to do on a regular basis? Becky Lynch’s only story is being friends with Charlotte. Imagine her returning to NXT with a chip on her shoulder looking to prove herself against Shayna Baszler.
I could see some viewing this as a demotion for the wrestlers involved. After all, isn’t NXT a minor league? We all view it as one. Could a minor league be as consistent as NXT? Should we consider it a minor league if NXT has a much higher standard for major shows? This is not a demotion, but a chance to reinvigorate and refine characters with the vocal portion of the audience. WWE could drum up support for these wrestlers over months in NXT then send them back to the main roster where they’ll appear fresh and more over than when they left.
I know pay will be a criticism as well, since NXT wrestlers are not paid in the same way as main roster wrestlers. WWE is going to make billions in the next five years on television contracts. They can eat the cost of semi-major stars hanging out in NXT.
This gives WWE a way to use their coolest brand to reinvigorate the careers of their current talent. It also allows the main television rosters to feel fresh with talent coming and going at a slightly higher rate. WWE needs to do something as these rosters get bigger and bigger. Calling main roster wrestlers down to NXT is exactly the something they should do.
What I absolutely positively love in wrestling this week:
Elias – It’s hard to think of a wrestler who has improved more over a year than Elias. While he was never given a chance to be great in NXT, on WWE’s Raw roster, he has become a delight. His weekly performances are exceptional. He can bring humor and hatred to just about any feud. Elias showed that he has the next gear in the ring in his performance with Seth Rollins on Sunday at Money in the Bank as well. Elias is very good. It’s time to notice this.
What I absolutely positively love in the world this week:
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – It’s a family drama set in the late 90’s in a suburban town. It’s one part mystery, one part exploration of family dynamics and motherhood, and altogether enjoyable. Ng’s storytelling style takes you on a ride, but it never feels rushed or uncomfortable. Her characters are so fully former and three-dimensional that you can’t help but miss them when the book is over. This is a treasure to read.
SSMGOTW (Superfluous Shane McMahon Gif of the Week):
This got weird. This got real weird…
We’re Done Here:
I’ve spent a few minutes in the last couple days remembering Leon White, Big Van Vader, as both a pro wrestler and human. As a child, teenager, and adult I’ve found myself going back to Boy Meets World and watching. On this show, White played the father of one of the students. He was usually used for gags, but often had some really sweet moments. His humanity shined through in the role and it was beautiful. Today I’m remembering the human behind the monster. Rest well, Vader.
Will Pruett writes about wrestling and popular culture at prowrestling.net. Of interest to him are diversity in wrestling and wrestling as a theatrical art form. To see his video content, subscribe to his YouTube channel. To contact, check him out on Twitter @itswilltime, leave a comment, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.