The NXT brand has become the best wrestling show on television. It’s simultaneously a training ground for the WWE as well as an alternative to the main product. They got to this point by trimming the fat and keeping the greatest features from the wrestling industry. Filmed in front of 400 people at a college, it is an incredibly intimate and visceral experience. The large WWE arenas filled with families and kids have resulted in a far less exciting Raw and SmackDown shows. NXT is also just one hour compared to the three of Raw and the two for SmackDown. This streamlined approach produces the goods and cuts the extraneous crap that comes with a mammoth three hour broadcast. Another case of less is more has to do with the writing and production.
While Raw has struggled with a 30-man-battle-royal of a writing team, (strangely employing TV-drama writers), NXT sticks with what worked best in the past. They use a small, guerrilla-type writing staff to keep the storylines simple, powerful, and resonant. With the writing team more hands-off than on, the wrestlers are able to let their own personalities shine through, the way the legends of wrestling did before them.
This is the single greatest reason for their success and why the WWE’s current product is lacking. The greatest wrestling gimmicks have always been exaggerated elements of a performer's personality. Hogan was always an attention-loving showboat, The Rock is a natural star, Austin is a badass, even John Cena had his most entertaining gimmick as a rapper, which is actually something he can do.
Like the great trumpeter Louis Armstrong said, “If ya ain’t got it in ya, ya can’t blow it out”. It’s the same with wrestling; if the gimmick is not a part of the person, then there is no way they can pull it off and have the fans buy it. This is the single greatest reason NXT is vastly superior. It’s great news for wrestling fans to see the NXT thrive in this way, and especially great that Triple H, who could one day completely run the WWE, has a lot to do with the great NXT product.
There are many, but here are the top 10 reasons why the NXT brand is better than its "major league" WWE.
6 Respect to the Divas
#GiveTheDivasAChance was a top trend on Twitter following this past week's Raw after yet another episode saw creative completely waste the talent of their women.
5 Less is More
NXT gives their storylines time to breathe and grow, while the WWE currently feels rushed. In the older times of four PPVs a year, storylines spanned months, gaining momentum and producing gigantic payoffs. Now the WWE is stuck in one-month cycles, forced to constantly promote their upcoming monthly PPV rather than focusing on the bigger picture. For example, the aftermath of the Royal Rumble and the leadup to WrestleMania is at the top of everyone’s mind but the WWE had to focus on February’s PPV Fast Lane instead.
3 Non “McMahon” wrestlers
Vince McMahon loves big guys. He’s a bodybuilding fan and has always had a bias for the large men. He pushed guys like Sid Justice and Lex Luger so hard to try and recreate the Hulk Hogan magic of the 80’s. Smaller men like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were only able to break through once the steroid scandal hit, and the muscle men had to take a back seat. It still exists today in the WWE with a very poor wrestler like Ryback getting tons of air time with very little to do with it. CM Punk stated in his Colt Cabana interview that Ryback’s poor wrestling skill resulted in some nasty injuries to Punk.
Triple H gets a lot of hate on the internet. Fans write that he isn’t a talented enough wrestler on his own, relying on his relationships with DX, Shawn Michaels, and Stephanie McMahon to carry him. I myself am not a big fan of his matches, but I do love what he is doing with NXT. You really get the feeling that this guy loves the wrestling business and takes developing the product very seriously. I’m very excited to hear Triple H mention he prefers improvised promos over heavy scripting.
2 Smaller writing team
This is huge. There’s a reason why movies aren’t directed by 30 people. It’s about vision. CM Punk blasted the WWE for having 30 writers whom he didn’t even know. When wrestlers asked the legendary Jim Cornette what their characters should say he responded “I don’t know!, I’m not you, only you can know what you should say.”
1 It’s organic, rather than forced
A comedian once told me that comedy is one of the few jobs that you can only practice by performing. The interaction with the crowd is integral. Wrestling is exactly the same. You can never predict how the fans will respond to you. The only way to develop your performance and gimmick is by getting in front of crowds and doing it for real. The best wrestlers use the crowd reaction to shape their style, letting it naturally evolve into what it needs to be. Too many times we have seen talented wrestlers go to the WWE and been given completely RANDOM gimmicks that ultimately don’t resonate with the crowd and make the wrestler look like a moron. Hopefully with WWE owning NXT, it means the wrestlers can keep using the same gimmicks on the big stage that got them there in the first place.
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