Every time there is a major NXT: Takeover event, all we hear about the next day is how much better NXT is from the main product. Fans do not understand why Raw and Smackdown can’t be as good as NXT, both with the storylines and with the actual wrestling. If only it were that easy. I completely agree that NXT is currently everything right in the world. Sasha Banks and Bayley tore the house down at the last two Takeover events, including in last night’s main event. Two women main eventing a wrestling show, let’s put that in perspective for a minute. The crowds both in Brooklyn and at Full Sail didn’t chant for puppies, chant boring or run to the bathroom. They cheered, “This Is Wrestling”, “This is Awesome”, and “NXT”.
The simplicity of the booking is what makes WWE fans pull their hair out. The rest of the show consisted of the culmination of a tag team tournament, with the NXT Champion Finn Balor and presumed next challenger Samoa Joe winning. So a big time wrestling event, highlighted by women’s and tag team wrestling. What is this 1989, minus the roided up main eventers? Where was the terrible comedy? The three long twenty-minute promos? Where were the overused, not over veterans to steal screen time from the young and over guys in their prime? Where were the Divas? The crowd at Full Sail University was right last night. That was wrestling.
The problem is that in 2015 WWE isn’t wrestling. Sure, one of the W’s technically stands for wrestling, but the acronym really should read like this: WWE. World Wrestling Entertainment is a sports entertainment company more than anything else. The soap opera drama, the Total Divas nonsense, and the repetitive garbage that takes place weekly is there to appease the network (USA), the sponsors (like the newly signed Pez), and Vince McMahon’s current vision.
We know that Vince and Stephanie McMahon were both at NXT last night and heard the crowd reactions. They understand, for instance, that the women’s division in NXT is much better than the Divas division on the main roster. But it just doesn’t really matter. Brie and Nikki Bella are the stars of Total Divas, “hit” E Network reality show. It behooves WWE to continue to push the Bellas in order to cross promote that the show, which is another revenue source. Sure, they can tell us repeatedly about the Divas Revolution but the proof really is in what we see weekly.
The same highlighting of the Bellas, the same repetitive matches (although longer in length) and the same garbage storylines take up all of the Divas time. The reason the crowd fell in love with Bayley, Charlotte, Sasha and Becky isn’t because of some meaningless revolution. It was because they saw four women evolve from the typical future divas into athletic, Ronda Rousey type competitions. And yes, Rousey is the most popular UFC star in the world. But is she on Total Divas?I read a lot of reviews saying that if Vince just took the NXT booking, the company’s ratings wouldn’t be in the tank anymore. If he just simplified everything and made wrestling about the titles again, cut the BS, then all would be right again. But do they need to do all of that?
Paul “Triple H” Levesque constantly talks about how NXT is aimed at a different audience than Raw and Smackdown and it’s completely true. NXT isn’t for the casual viewer that may watch Total Divas or like the tongue in cheek terrible comedy. It’s for the fan that loves purity in wrestling, the smart fan (like myself and probably you reading this) that checks out wrestling websites regularly. It’s for the diehard fan that loves the business and wants to watch stars before they become superstars. Levesque has turned NXT into the ultimate independent wrestling company. Now, instead of watching Raw, hating it and having no alternative, a fan like me can complain and watch an alternative. The alternative is NXT, which is still owned by WWE anyway. WWE created it’s own competition and the winner doesn’t matter. It’s always themselves.
I always want WWE to be better. I hope they take some of my suggestions from last week and institute them. I want them to push the wrestlers I like. But even if they don’t, I’ll always have NXT, which is fine by them. As many missteps as we expect NXT to take, they seemingly always do the right thing. Here are my favorite five things from last night’s NXT Takeover: Respect.