Pro Wrestling

Has WWE NXT Given Up?

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WWE NXT is my favorite wrestling show of the entire week.

Heck, screw that. It is probably my favorite show on television PERIOD. Not just wrestling. I should note, however, that I don’t watch a lot. Game Of Thrones, Big Bang Theory, Walking Dead, any sitcoms, American Horror Story, crime shows, Shameless, Orange Is The New Black, The Flash, Outlander, Rick And Morty, Family Guy, House Of Cards, The Office, Better Call Saul, Vikings, Blue Bloods and countless others – I HAVE NEVER SEEN THEM! Not a single episode nor do I care to.

Bottom line: I don’t watch much. However, NXT always gets me to tune in.

For years now, I have sung their praises. Go back and find any column of mine about this topic. Google whatever you want about myself and NXT. It is always big time positives about the entire product, especially their Takeover live specials. Absolutely the best thing about wrestling since 2014. Best pay-per-view live specials without a doubt. I can’t stress this fact enough before making the following comment…

NXT is losing steam. Fast!

Before getting to my very fair criticisms, I will repeat what I wrote about a few days ago: The Wrestling Observer is reporting that the USA Network/NXT television contract is coming due in October. With NHL potentially being moved to the USA Network, particularly Wednesdays, that is trouble. Even more to note is that NXT was listed as a program for the big WWE Network/Peacock deal. That was later cleared up as being nothing…but I have my doubts. That may have been an early indication of what is happening to NXT, starting this Fall. Time will tell on that though.

Now with all of that mess to think about, here are my not so positive notes from just last night’s episode:

– We have a live Takeover special two weeks from Sunday. On February 14th, Valentines Day to be exact. Not a darn thing is known for the card thus far. We may be able to assume a few things, but nothing is announced. Big finger of shame to NXT on that. The live Takeover specials are their bread and butter. I’m sure the end result will be amazing. However, we need build and anticipation to get there first. Perhaps we should ease up on the live specials? Perhaps that isn’t exactly possible now with having a live two hour show on cable TV every week? If you will be kinda-sorta third brand of WWE, yeah – you need those regular PPV events to keep things moving.

– The Dusty Rhodes Classic is just a bunch of tag team matches. I say that with all due respect. That is what this is. Filler tag bouts that are taking over the entire show. Thankfully, it will probably be over with by the next Takeover. Then we can move on. Same issue with a lot of tournaments. I know fans love a good ol’ fashioned tourney, but sometimes they are just used as ‘filler.’ I sense that issue here. To make matters worse is the fact that the women also have their own Dusty Rhodes Classic. Yes, at the same time. A men’s tag team tournament, plus a women’s tag team tournament. On the same show! Geez. At least the men have actual tag teams and legitimate pairings. The women have one, MAYBE two real tag teams. The rest have been thrown together just to do this half hearted tournament. Not good. Very transparent sadly and not good.

– New talent is always a good thing. I am not knocking any of the young guys out there. That is (or used to be) the entire point of NXT. Get young/fresh stars some exposure to a bigger audience and see how it goes. I get that. Just…yeah. The NXT roster is hurting right now. There has been a severe lack of star power for a while in 2021. Some are the names themselves; the rest is wrestlers not being portrayed correctly or in the best light. A tweak here or there can fix this issue, so it isn’t THAT major. Just noticeable. With Rhea Ripley, Damian Priest, or even Keith Lee now gone from NXT, you start to feel those exits.

– On that note, The Undisputed Era, NXT Champion Finn Balor and Karrion Kross need to be showcased more. What is Balor doing right now? Teasing yet another showdown with Kyle O’Reily or facing or Pete Dunne or doing both…or neither? Balor is doing some of his best work ever right now, yet it doesn’t feel he is getting the proper spotlight As THE freakin’ champion of the brand. It’s weird. No reason why The Undisputed Era has fallen into the background as of late. I don’t know if they are stalling for a main roster call up or split but either way, they have to find something important to do again. The Dusty Rhodes Classic is NOT it. Them as a dominant stable on top is far too valuable to just push aside. Same with Kross. That dude is legitimate and a star. Probably the next NXT Champion. I just wonder if story lines are ‘waiting’ for the next Takeover to pass, and then he will be inserted back into the main event scene. I assume that is the place. Until then though, we are just getting vignettes and scary promos from Kross’ girl Scarlett. No issue there of course – we just need more.

– My last point is the overall feel of the show. I know all the health crap has put a damper on wrestling shows. I know everybody is trying their best. I just haven’t felt that buzz or excitement surrounding NXT for a good while now. The energy and memorable matches aren’t there. Some of that is on NO big live crowd reacting. Some of that is just the product. Last night though really felt like WWE knew that NXT wasn’t going to be on USA Network for the long haul. Almost as if the white flag was raised. The company may know that peacock is the future home of NXT and no longer want to put all their resources into USA Network Wednesday nights. Hopefully, I am 100% wrong. Just the sense I got last night watching.

What say you? Has WWE given up on the NXT/USA thing or is the show just in a little bit of a rut? You tell me.

Email me: jw.bball.615@gmail.com

Follow me on Twitter: @JustinWatry 

Thanks.

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