NXT’s Appeal: Keep Perspective

Date: October 8, 2015

On the day after NXT TakeOver: Respect aired on the WWE Network, I find myself a bit confused on how I feel about the show, the brand itself and the fans that can’t get enough of it.

I thought it was a good wrestling show – not the best NXT show I’ve seen, but more entertaining than most wrestling shows. A better version of a Monday Night Raw, as I had texted Pencil Podcast host Renny D during the show.

Chad Gable, Baron Corbin and the main event between Sasha Banks and Bayley were the highlights in my mind. The women’s championship match was great storytelling by two great workers, and two characters that the audience is fully invested in. But, was the finish good enough for you? It wasn’t for me. If that main evented Wrestlemania would we be okay with the way Sasha tapped out with two seconds remaining? Or would we complain about every finish and every show like we do at the main roster level?

I know many people will blame creative, or Vince McMahon, or whatever they can find to excuse the lack of storytelling continuity on the main roster compared to NXT. But, was the booking that much better on Wednesday? Four wrestlers who recently decided to become a tag team for a few weeks won semifinal matches of a historic tag team event over two longtime tag teams. Tyler Breeze lost again. At what point does it become unimportant for him to put someone over? What does Apollo Crews get out of beating someone who never wins?

Just because it’s on an NXT show does not make it free of criticism. They parade out the entire roster at the end of a show to give flowers to two women who have helped make it the brand it has become. But why is NXT the only place we can have that?

It’s simple. The big time, the WWE, the place everyone wants to be, is a business. It’s not as much a wrestling company as the fans want it to be. I think we’ve gotten to a place where it is hard to be a fan of both NXT and the WWE product.

It’s similar to a basketball fans’ comparisons of the college level to the NBA. That flower ceremony for Banks and Bayley was their ‘One Shining Moment’.

Full disclosure, I loved college basketball until about 5 years ago, and now I’m more of an NBA fan, but I’ll happily watch either. College basketball has the smaller venues, the more raucous crowds and environments, the ‘love of the game’ is more on display during the NCAA Tournament than you see at the professional level. The college players are on the big stage for a few games each regular season and three or four (at best) tournament games where everyone gets to see them. The NBA season is almost three times as long and the postseason alone runs for three months.

Sound familiar?

Don’t get me wrong, Finn Balor, Banks, Corbin, Sami Zayn and Gable (I hope) all have futures on the main roster. Much like Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens before them. But, when we see Banks put on 4 an 5 star matches twice a week, every week, will we become numb to it (See Rollins, Seth)?

Will it turn into the narrative of “Oh I loved (insert NBA star name here) when he played at (insert college here)..but the NBA sucks, so I don’t watch anymore.”

Until the NXT (pardon the pun) Sasha shows up at Full Sail University to steal your heart. Or until you get sick of watching the same matches on Monday and Thursdays..leading to the same matches one Sunday a month on the Network. The WWE (and NBA) have their audience. And NXT (NCAA) have theirs.

I know I can watch a Wrestlemania in front of 70,000 fans on a Sunday, and a packed 400 person Full Sail on a Wednesday and find the good in both. I’m just not sure all wrestling fans can find the happy medium. Actually, I’m sure they can’t.

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