Is it just me or is NXT getting worse? by John Duffy

Since its reboot NXT has been the most watchable wrestling show available, featuring future superstars in fantastic matches. Like many of you, I was blown away by NXT Takeover: REvolution and NXT: Arrival, and I continue to tune in every Wednesday wanting to see more. But I am still waiting. Before you start shouting, hear me out: besides a select few – Charlotte, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Sami Zayn – who put on great technical matches, and have a great connection with the crowd, we are left with a roster of botch-heavy, mistimed matches that have left this writer perplexed.

Take Solomon Crowe, for example. When rumours were confirmed of his signing with NXT, those who knew of him waited excitedly for his debut. Then we got it a watered down version of the hacker character he portrayed on the indies, which – in his defence – is not his fault, rather the technical team. But then we also got his matches. His first versus Bull Dempsey was an underwhelming bout that refused to hold any interest what so ever. His latest match, versus the outgoing CJ Parker, was nothing to write home about either. Now I must ask why a jobber such as Parker (whose only offense I have ever witnessed was a botched slap on Kevin Owens that nearly broke Owens’s nose) was able to mount sustainable offense on NXT’s newest, and seemingly pushed-to-the-hilt, superstar that made him look weak and again unable to shine? As Crowe would say “stay tuned.”

We even have Alex Riley back on our screens trying his best to look all wild eyed and intense in what must be the most unanticipated wrestling comebacks of all time, and the less said about that the better. What’s more, Blake and Murphy’s capture of the NXT Tag Team Championships spelled the end of NXT’s enthralling doubles division (look back, even The Ascension were good!), leaving us with the oncoming feud with Enzo and Big Cass, who are definitely entertaining on the mic, but not in the ring.

Two weeks ago, in what has to be NXT’s worst ever match, the popular Blue Pants versus newcomer Dana Brooke. Looking at Brooke, one would think that her appearance and physique would at least be able to carry a match – alas, this wasn’t the case. Now I don’t aspire to be mean, but the constant sexual gyrating instantly annoyed, which is in stark contrast to what I believe the NXT women’s division to be about. We have been spoiled beyond belief with the talent on show in the division, especially when compared to the WWE’s previous handling of the Divas on the main roster, yet with Brooke what seemed to be on display was a throw back to the attitude era of women’s wrestling, as she continued to pose and gyrate throughout a match that was interrupted by terrible moves and spots. Bring back Banks and Charlotte soon.

The future is bright with NXT and I believe we have been spoiled by the performances of certain superstars, But with Neville now on the main roster, soon to be followed by more, that will leave NXT in desperate need of new and exciting talent. However, by the looks of things displayed in the last few weeks my anticipation has begun to wane.

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It’s Just You! by Alan Boon

NXT was, for a time, the best wrestling show on TV. Then along came Lucha Underground, and it slipped to only the second-best wrestling show on TV. Given the huge amounts spent on Raw, Smackdown, and Impact Wrestling, that’s still not a bad place to be.

Is NXT as good as it was six months ago? Hand on heart, it’s not. Is that because, six months ago, it was out-of-this-frickin’-world? Yes. NXT is still a very watchable TV show, with engaging matches and believable angles and motivations. In Kevin Owens, they’ve created (and, yeah, I know – Kevin Steen yatta yatta yatta) the second most dominant heel in US wrestling, and now that Lesnar has been turned babyface by the fans, he’s probably the top heel in US wrestling. In Sami Zayn they have the undoubted top babyface – better than Cena, better than Bryan, and everything Vince McMahon wishes Roman Reigns was.

But if the show has any problem at all, it’s not the top of the card, it’s further down, where there is a lack of polished talent to give the roster depth. But you know what, NXT is a development territory. Its sole reason-for-being is to find and prepare wrestlers, managers, commentators, cameramen, producers, and everything else under the sun that you need to create a wrestling show. They’re earning their chops down there, and some at a more progressed stage than others.

With a few exceptions, if you make it to NXT TV you’re pretty solid, at the fundamentals at least. Those exceptions – Baron Corbin, Dana Brooke, Enzo Amore, to name a few – are there because they have that something special, that x-factor that’s all-too-important in making it in the wrestling business. You can be the most technically-gifted wrestler in the world but if you don’t have that look, or that charisma, or even the height, you’re not going to make it.

For the most part, though, the talent on our TV screens do have the skills to pay the bills. Some of them are still finding that right gimmick, and development is the right place to do that. And watching them develop further is definitely part of the pleasure of watching NXT. Tyler Breeze and Sasha Banks have grown week-upon-week, and they won’t be the last. Yes, there are going to be lean times – they just lost one of their main singles stars, and two of their top tag teams, but everything balances out in the end.

The future is bright and it’s going to be fun watching it get brighter. Stay loyal, stay true, and keep enjoying the second-best wrestling show on TV.

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