When you have been a wrestling fan for as long as I have, you try to temper your expectations a bit. I’ve seen big pushes get lined up and then all of a sudden get taken away for pretty much no reason. I had extremely high hopes for the Nexus when they first came on the scene. I’ve seen pushes get pulled out from under the likes of Kofi Kingston, Carlito, MVP and others. The WWE has far too often been quick to give up on their younger talents before they can get their feet underneath them.
But for some reason, I can’t help but feel differently in recent months. NXT has changed my feelings on a lot of this. Sure there has been a developmental system in place for quite some time, but it hasn’t gotten the attention that NXT has recently. NXT has become such a great product on its own that it is often times better than RAW and Smackdown. Plus, it is giving every wrestler down there a chance to work on their character and see if it will get over on a bigger stage. When there was Ohio Valley Wrestling and Florida Championship Wrestling, these wrestlers weren’t allowed to show off their characters on a huge stage like NXT. NXT reaches far more people than either of those two territories did.
If you haven’t watched NXT then I really don’t know what is wrong with you. The Takeover shows have been better than pretty much any PPV the WWE has put on in the last year. The wrestling on the show is phenomenal. The storyline build ups to the show are simple and effective, and there’s an actual story in place that doesn’t involve kissing anyone’s arse or intimidating an old wrestler. It actually seems like wins and losses matter in NXT, something that doesn’t seem to be the case in the WWE nowadays.
You have to look at the roster pool in NXT and not help but get excited about what’s to come in the future. Kevin Owens has the makings of everything you want your top heel to be in a wrestling company. His promos make you think he really doesn’t care about anyone other than himself. He may not have the most intimidating physique, but he looks like a bad ass in the ring. Plus he has an aura to him that makes you think he is going to be a top guy going forward.
Then there’s Sami Zayn. The guy is perhaps the most clean cut babyface that has come along in the WWE in quite some time. Even more than Daniel Bryan. Zayn just has that underdog mentality to him that makes you want to cheer for him. And his promos back that up, but carry just enough intensity that doesn’t make you get sick of him.
Finn Balor, at least to me, has the most potential at being the next big mega star when he comes up to the WWE. Everything about him just screams it. From his entrance to his work in the ring, I think he has the appeal to reach out to every portion of the WWE’s fan base and make a lot of money. Imagine Finn Balor’s entrance at a Wrestlemania. One dream scenario that I know will never happen is a Balor vs Undertaker match. But you have Undertaker come out first, and have him watch Balor’s entrance instead of the norm of Taker’s opponent watching him enter.
There are so many others down in NXT too. Tyler Breeze has boom or bust potential. I love his work, but in front of a WWE audience it could be tricky. He could become Fandango, or the crowd could adopt to him and he could become a solid upper mid-carder to a lower level main event player. The same could be said about Hideo Itami. It all depends on how these guys are booked at the next level. If they follow Neville’s path, then there are high hopes for everyone in NXT.
And then there are the Divas of NXT. The Bellas have said they could do what the women in NXT have been doing if given time, but I call absolute BS in that. The Bellas have improved a good amount in recent months, but the women in NXT would run circles around them in the ring every day. And a lot of that has to do with trainer Sara del Rey. The women have had the best matches on each of the last two Takeover shows. And I would have to think that the Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch match from Unstoppable is in the Top 3 for WWE match of the year. I would love to throw all of the WWE Divas down in the NXT training facilities for a month or two and have them go through a training boot camp and get them to NXT standards. Look what another stint in NXT has done for Emma. I really do hope that Triple H and Company have big plans for the women’s division in the WWE in the near future, because these NXT women deserve every bit of chance to shine on the main roster when they get there.
There’s a handful of tremendous talent in NXT, but lets not forget about the talent that is also already up on the WWE’s main roster. And that talent pool is headlined by the three former members of The Shield: Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. Those three are the centerpieces of the WWE’s future. There’s no denying it. All three are future multiple time WWE World Heavyweight Champions. I had my concerns about Dean Ambrose, but it looks like the WWE may be taking him seriously again now that he will be in two straight PPV main events. Roman Reigns has rebounded nicely since his botched Wrestlemania main event run. And Seth Rollins has exceeded everybody’s expectations and has become the top heel in the WWE. That’s something I’m pretty sure no one saw coming when the eventual break-up of The Shield happened.
While those three may be the top future of the WWE, it doesn’t mean there aren’t others around who can play a helping had. Neville has made a strong impact in his short time on the main roster. Bray Wyatt has been lost in the shuffle in recent months, but he still has some potential if he is given some actual direction. Then there are a handful of guys that could play a part in the WWE’s future: Sheamus, Wade Barrett, Luke Harper, and yes, even Ryback could. Any character can be properly rehabilitated if they are given a proper story and a strong direction. Hell, look at the New Day. All three of them went from no direction to one of the most popular acts in the WWE.
Now we can talk about how much talent is in the WWE pipeline, but it all comes down to who is booking them and what kind of direction everyone will go. If NXT is any indication, it appears that Triple H has a strong idea of how to properly book a wrestling show. But Triple H isn’t in charge of booking the WWE, Vince McMahon still is. And his recent track record in the last couple years isn’t something to brag about. And Vince McMahon has earned his spot with his track record and history in the wrestling business, no matter how badly he wants to avoid using that word. NXT is pushed like an actual wrestling company. It has realistic stories and it seems like everything that happens there actually means something. On RAW and Smackdown, wins and losses are traded like nothing. When was the last time that anything of meaning happened on Smackdown? The WWE could have all the talent in the world, but the right stories is what connects them with the audience.
We have all gotten our hopes up as wrestling fans before. We see a possible new star in the making, only to see them suddenly be shunned to the mid-card and never to be heard from again. But there is just too much talent in NXT and the WWE at the moment to not help but be excited for the future. Sure maybe Vince McMahon is still in charge when they get there, but Triple H is going to have a helping hand in all of this. I think we’ve seen that with the likes of Neville and Kevin Owens on the main roster so far. The WWE Network’s coverage of NXT has helped these talents tremendously. And it is going to help their careers in the long run as well.
It may not happen this year, hell it may not happen next year either. But a boom period is coming again for the wrestling business. Call it a hunch, but with the way NXT has gained traction it has gotten even the casual fans talking about the future. And I didn’t even talk about Samoa Joe in this piece! There’s too much talent in the WWE currently that you can’t help but be excited for the future. There are a lot of things to like, and we can only hope that it leads to the pro wrestling business growing in popularity yet again.
Until Next Time,
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