A Penny For Your Thoughts Wrestlemania Countdown Day 4; The Gutting of NXT

This time last year things were very very different for the ‘E’s third brand. It was arguably the best product WWE put out, full of up and coming new stars and indy darlings getting to shine on Vince’s dime. Takeover Dallas easily buried Mania 32. NXT was the main selling point for the struggling WWE Network, and it was a fan’s dream.

A year later, the foundation of NXT isn’t quite so solid.

Don’t get me wrong. NXT is still easily a better booked and more entertaining show than Raw or Smackdown have been in years. But it’s been gutted and it shows. I used to get in fights with BD and Swayze in the comments here on IP for stating my personal belief that NXT reminded me of the best parts of the original ECW. When ECW focused on the in-ring product, and between garbage matches was putting on the best pure wrestling matches on tv. If you overlook Cactus Jack and Sandman and Raven and Dreamer throwing every blunt object they could at each other, you had guys like Malenko, Guerrero, Tazz, Douglas and REDACTED putting on technical wrestling clinics. THAT is the part of ECW that NXT used to remind me of.

These days though, with all but a handful of NXT’s true main eventers gone off to Raw or Smackdown, what’s left reminds me more of mid-2000’s TNA. Mostly good workers with crowd followings putting on good matches but not really having the booking department showcasing them well. And with Shinsuke Nakamora likely showing up on Smackdown on Tuesday and a few other names rumoured to be getting the call-up, NXT’s roster is going to get even thinner. Among the men on the roster Eric Young and Booby Roode are the only really credible marketable heels. Among the women, that duo is Kay and Royce, who are GREAT at making the fans hate them but otherwise nowhere NEAR ready to carry the division on their backs when Asuka eventually gets the call up. On the face side of things, Tye Dillinger and Roderick Strong are the closest there are to credible face threats to Roode’s title. Chris “Kassius Ohno” Hero is back, but after a near 4 year absence he’s all but starting over despite getting a title shot right off the bat. And Ember Moon is a great promising young talent, but she’s the closest thing NXT’s womens division has to a top face, and she’s nowhere NEAR ready to fill Asuka’s boots.

Then we have the tag team scene, where the Authors of Pain have been rushed to a championship reign they aren’t quite ready for because DIY and the Revival are both expected to move up to the red or blue brands shortly, and after they leave the only real option for a proper title feud left is Sanity.

This COULD still be an opportunity for Tripsy to prove that his vision for NXT will thrive regardless of which pieces he has on the board to work with. Takeover Orlando is kind of a make or break night for NXT. Ratings have been slipping and NXT no longer consistently ranks #1 weekly for most streamed/viewed shows on the Network. Takeover needs to steal the show like it used to, to bury the main roster ppv that follows it. It needs to prove that it can still be the best, most entertaining product on WWE’s roster. The remaining roster, those that aren’t getting call-ups, need to bust their asses Saturday night and show everyone why THEY are, apologies to Mike, the real most must see show on WWE tv.

Honestly the call ups need to be spaced out more. Since this time last year NXT has lost Zayn, Joe, Bayley, Balor, Aeries, American Alpha, Corbin, Jax and Graves to various roles on the main shows. That’s a few too many if you think about it. And if as many rumoured call ups happen next week as we’ve been hearing, it will only hurt NXT more. And with the gutting of NXT, there are fewer future stars to build a real future with. And that hurts all of us.

See you tomorrow for my take on the most insulting thing about this year’s Hall of Fame.

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