The current edition of NXT is the best thing World Wrestling Entertainment has produced in, at least, the past decade. NXT is a tremendous throwback to professional wrestling companies from years ago. It features simple and uncomplicated booking. Every NXT Takeover show feels like it is a big event and each one contains memorable matches. As good as NXT is today, the hope is that the brand will continue to evolve over time. The WWE signing great independent wrestlers is only a positive for the company, of course, but it is vital that the WWE not forget that NXT was originally meant to be a developmental product utilized to churn out hoped-to-be future WWE talents. NXT is now both a developmental brand and also its own touring product.
It is because of this that we dream of what could be the greatest team of trainers in wrestling history that could potentially turn NXT into a game-changer as it pertains to the future of the industry. Such a team of trainers would naturally have to include some of the greatest overall workers still with us today. We would need ring technicians, beloved babyfaces, hated heels and wrestlers who worked as tag team specialists. While not everybody who worked with our dream team of trainers would become a Superstar for one reason or another, the hope is that this imaginary version of NXT would produce the greatest roster of wrestling talent every seen in North America or anywhere else in the world.
15 15. Shawn Michaels
We begin with "The Heartbreak Kid” if only because it has been widely reported that Shawn Michaels has already spent time in Florida working in the WWE Performance Center. Michaels is also arguably the greatest overall wrestler in the history of the WWE. He worked a variety of styles depending on the situation. Michaels proved throughout his career that he could make the switch from babyface to heel seemingly at the flip of a switch. Michaels can be funny and serious and even a degenerate. We also know Michaels can be a great trainer. He had a hand in training Daniel Bryan and that worked out pretty well.
14 14. Ric Flair
Odds are that you took a wrong turn somewhere on the Internet if you don’t understand why we would want “Nature Boy” Ric Flair to be on our dream team of trainers for NXT. Flair saw it all and did it all during his legendary career. Flair won championships and carried promotions. He was loved and also hated. He worked with smaller wrestlers and against bigger opponents. He cut some of the most memorable promos that are still played on WWE Network specials. Flair was also a tremendous storyteller inside of the ring. Flair captivated the attention of a fan unlike anybody else. He drew you into a match and he then had you in the palm of his hand.
13 13. Jushin Thunder Liger
Watching Jushin Thunder Liger work at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn in August 2015 was a lot of fun, particularly for those of us lucky enough to be there in attendance. Liger is no longer the worker of old. He is, after all, in his 50s. Liger would be great for our dream team of NXT trainers for multiple reasons. He has traveled all around the world and he got over among different audiences throughout his career. Liger wrestled against and worked with true legends of the industry.
12 12. Ken Shamrock
We know that the WWE scouts legitimate sports for talent. WWE personnel made the trek to Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics to see who may have the goods to become future Superstars. It makes sense. Those who are experienced in amateur wrestling and rolling around on a mat should, in theory, be easier to train than somebody who never competed in such a sport.
11 11. Lance Storm
Lance Storm has stated, during podcasts made available on multiple wrestling websites, that the WWE has contacted him about working in the company as a trainer. Storm has declined such requests and instead runs his own training academy, and that academy has been successful in producing talents signed by the WWE. Emma, Dolph Ziggler and Tyler Breeze are just three of the WWE wrestlers trained by Storm.
10 10. Christian
Christian would make for a fascinating trainer for all kinds of reasons. For starters, Christian was always a good worker. He made his name as part of one of the greatest tag teams in the history of the WWE. Christian then chose to make the switch from the WWE to Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, even though doing so was not necessarily the best move to make. Christian won championships in multiple organizations, but he also suffered serious heartbreak in the closing days of his in-ring career.
9 9. Trish Stratus
We need to have somebody in our dream team of trainers to work with the women’s division of NXT. Trish Stratus is the first name that comes to mind. Stratus is admittedly not the greatest female worker in the history of the company. She would, however, have more to offer than teaching in-ring technical skills. Stratus could train younger wrestlers in the art of acting like a star.
8 8. Dean Malenko
Younger wrestling fans who have never done so should take some time and watch matches put on by Dean Malenko during his runs in ECW and WCW. The argument could be made that Dean Malenko is the greatest in-ring technician of the entire “Attitude Era” and one of the most under-appreciated wrestlers to work in North America over the past 25 years.
7 7. Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio is perhaps the greatest babyface in peril to ever work in the WWE. It is easy to understand why the Mysterio gimmick got over with fans of all ages. Mysterio masks flew off of shelves, as younger fans wanted to portray their hero. Older viewers, meanwhile, watched the ultimate underdog take on the likes of Batista, Kurt Angle, Matt Hardy and so many others.
6 6. Dave Finlay
Fans who grew up watching wrestling in the 1990s and 2000s may not have fully appreciated Dave Finlay during his runs in WCW and the WWE. Go back and watch Finlay’s work if you fall into such a category. The best part about Finlay’s matches is that they felt like real fights. You never saw Finlay perform unnecessary flips. Finlay was not a cartoon character, outside of his time with Hornswoggle.
5 5. William Regal
The WWE already has William Regal working on the NXT brand. Why not turn him into one of our lead trainers? Remember that it was not all that long ago when it was teased that Regal could be the man to stop Kevin Owens in NXT. That speaks to the greatness of the Regal character. You probably already know how talented a wrestler Regal was throughout his career. Regal legitimately could have been a World Champion had he been given a better character and pushed seriously during his runs in WCW or the WWE.
4 4. Bubba Ray / Bully Ray
Bubba Ray already has experience working as a trainer underneath his belt. That’s impressive, but it is not the main reason we want him as part of our trainers for NXT. Bubba Ray was part of one of the greatest tag teams in the history of the business. He is also an example of what can be if one refuses to give up. The WWE never pushed Bubba Ray as a serious singles act. He never would have become the WWE Champion before his days in TNA Wrestling.
3 3. CM Punk
We know what you’re thinking. There is no chance that CM Punk would ever make a return to wrestling, let alone the WWE. We are not so sure. For starters, we do not have high hopes for Punk’s UFC career past September 2016. It is also worth noting that Punk once truly loved pro wrestling. Such a love that is lost is often reclaimed.
2 2. Shinsuke Nakamura
We understand that Shinsuke Nakamura is rather busy these days. Nakamura is currently serving as the NXT Champion and as the face of that touring brand. NXT is not always on the road, though, and thus we would absolutely utilize Nakamura’s skills on our team of trainers when he is in Florida.
1 1. Daniel Bryan
The WWE roster lost a great worker earlier this year when Daniel Bryan had to retire because of heath problems caused by concussions. Bryan has proven to be a spectacular announcer while calling matches for the Cruiserweight Classic. He is also serving as the storyline general manager of SmackDown.
We believe Bryan could do more for the WWE so long as he is interested in working in the company in such a role. Bryan would still be a great wrestler if he was able to compete in the ring. He has traveled the world and worked in different countries. His knowledge could be invaluable to younger talent. Bryan also knows what it means to learn the “WWE style” of wrestling on major pay-per-view events and of cutting promos. Bryan is still young enough to be able to relate to those who haven’t yet made it in the WWE or in any organization. That's a trait that shouldn't be overlooked. We would hope Bryan would work on our dream team of NXT trainers for decades to come.
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