Happy Hump Day TJR Faithful, and first off I’d like to apologize for my lack of a presence last week. I was incredibly sick but am feeling much better now. With that out of the way, let’s talk about NXT. I’ve been a fan of the WWE’s developmental system for a long time, back to the days when FCW was the facility where the future of the WWE honed their craft. When the WWE Performance Center opened, the quality of development without question improved, and with the launch of the WWE Network, NXT is arguably producing the best single hour of WWE content on a weekly basis.
NXT has an array of unique and memorable characters, a competitive championship picture whether talking about the NXT Women’s Title currently held by Paige or the NXT Title held by Adrian Neville, and without a mid-card championship in sight NXT can boast a better-developed mid-card scene than the WWE’s main roster. It’s pretty impressive what they’ve been able to turn their development of the future into.
It has been widely reported that once NXT launched on the WWE Network, that an NXT talent meeting was held where they were told that the call-ups to the main roster would be done more sparingly than ever. At first the notion made me sad, as there are several guys on the NXT roster I think are ready to make an impact on Raw or Smackdown. Now I’m not so sure that it’s bad news. When you look at some of the recent call-ups (let’s say over the last year), the only successful one as of right now are Bray Wyatt and his “Family”.
Xavier Woods on NXT had a unique character. He was in every sense of the term, a 90s Nerd. He loved everything the 90s brought to popular culture, the movies, the music, the TV Shows, the comics and videogames. He was essentially living his life like a 90s kid in 2013. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but it was his thing and it was fun. It’s actually sad to see what he is now on the Main Roster. He was called up, debuted with absolutely no build up whatsoever, saddled with another man’s gimmick, and voila! Nobody gave a damn.
I’m still scratching my head as to whether they actually thought this would be something that could work or if their plan the entire time was to ruin this very charismatic and technically sound worker’s career. Maybe they were creating a blueprint for how not to get a guy over? Needless to say that I could have thought of a million other ways to bring him up, that all would have been better than what they did. I know he’s not a top tier guy, and that he was looking at being a mid-card act at best but seriously, WTF WWE? The fact is he would have been better off had he just stayed full time in NXT.
Xavier’s not the only one who got lost in their translation to the main roster. Summer Rae on NXT is the top heel diva, leader of a faction (BFFs: Beautiful Fierce Females) with Sasha Banks and Charlotte, and a perennial contender for the NXT Women’s title. On the main roster she is a prop for Fandango. She’s certainly making the best out of it but it’s Fandango and her role with him could be filled by anybody, as evidenced by the fact that it was for several months before she was inserted.
She is a good talker and a pretty good wrestler who improved every time she stepped in the ring on NXT. She was a royal bitch and made herself very easy to root against, and I just think she has more to give the Divas division. Fortunately for her, transition hasn’t been as catastrophic as Xavier’s. At least she’s on the show most weeks and she’s able to show some personality on Total Divas now. Xavier wishes he were so lucky.
Emma is the most recent NXT call-up, and things haven’t fared much better for her than they have for Xavier and Summer Rae. On NXT her entrance, her dance, her ability to wrestle her ass off and her overall character connected with the people in attendance in a way that it simply hasn’t on the main roster yet. When she tagged with Santino to face Fandango and Summer Rae on NXT, it was one of the most fun matches I had seen in a long time. When they tried to re-create it on Raw it fell flat. The #Emmalution has been less than #Emmataining.
The trouble is that I’m not sure how what’s to blame here. Do the main roster writers not get why the gimmick was successful on NXT? Did it need to be tweaked for a grander scale? Or does the gimmick simply not translate well to the bright lights of Raw and Smackdown? All I know is that Emma is a great worker that I was confident could improve the Divas division, and I’ve been very much underwhelmed by her transition from NXT to Raw.
So to recap, three out of four call-ups to the main roster in the last year have been less than exciting. The jury is still out of Alexander Rusev and Lana, but the fact is that the call-ups haven’t fared well on the extremely crowded main roster and that has me worried about some of my favorite NXT acts that are on the verge of being called up. Will the WWE writers know how to debut Paige in a memorable and effective way? Will she be used to immediately strengthen the Divas division or will the weakness of the division as compared to NXT’s Women’s division drag her down? Will guys like Adrian Neville and Sami Zayn be trivialized like Xavier Woods? Can Bo Dallas’ shtick get him as over as a heel on the main roster as it has on NXT, where he completely turned the perception of him around? Will Tyler Breeze’s gimmick translate to the main roster? Will Adam Rose’s? There are simply a lot of questions as to whether or not being called up is what the superstars on NXT should be hoping for.
There’s still a chance that a lot of these superstars could make an impact on the main roster, it simply depends on how they are introduced and how they are handled upon their arrival. I still think Xavier can be a viable mid-card draw, and I know that Summer Rae and Emma are better than most divas on the main roster. I know Paige can singlehandedly carry the Divas division one day, that Adrian Neville can be the most exciting in-ring performer on the main roster and that Adam Rose and Tyler Breeze can inject a sense of fun and playfulness that Raw and Smackdown simply lack (Adam Rose is everything 3MB wishes they were).
It’s a matter of translating what works so well on NXT to the main roster. I don’t know it that means that the NXT writers need to be more actively involved in the introduction of their guys to the main roster, or if the main roster’s writers need to be more aware of what is going on at NXT, but something needs to be done so that these great acts don’t continue to be lost in translation between developmental and the main roster. For now, unless I’m a transcendent talent like Paige, I’m very happy to stay on NXT, where I get a chance to contribute to arguably the best hour of WWE TV each week.
There you have it, but as always I want to know what you think! Are some of the NXT gimmicks just destined to fail on Raw or Smackdown? Or are the main roster writers just unaware of how to integrate them and why the gimmicks work in the first place? Can Xavier recover from the career sabotage performed on him? Would you want to be called-up to the overcrowded main roster if you were on NXT?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas advocating Spike Lee directing season 2 of True Detective, and for it to star Denzel Washington and Will Smith. I know it’s never going to happen, but admit it; you’d love for it to happen! Have a great week everybody!