There is no denying that NXT has always been extremely popular. It’s the land that sparked a change in women’s wrestling, reminded fans why we love tag-teams so much, and the NXT Takeover events showing the world how it’s done. However, there is also no denying that at some point NXT lost a step. Following the likes of the Four Horsewomen, Finn Balor, Sami Zayn, and Samoa Joe moving up to the bigger stages, there was a shift in the general feel of the roster. However, in 2018, we are seeing things go back to normal. NXT is stacked! Takeover shows are forever doing just that, taking over, and everything is looking very promising for WWE’s developmental territory.
NXT has been just as big of a home for tag-team wrestling as it has been women’s. The division has most certainly seen a revival over the years and has reminded fans just what tag-team wrestling is capable of. The likes of DIY, The Revival, and Authors of Pain have been a part of some of the best matches not only in NXT’s but WWE’s history; and so with that in mind, it was worrying when DIY split and Dash and Dawson were moved over to Monday night RAW.
These were the teams to raise the bar and take things to brand-new heights, and it would be a difficult task to top the iconic matches these teams created. However, we have not been left disappointed. It’s teams like Sanity, The Undisputed Era, and the Street Profits that have kept those standards high and have allowed the division to remain a promising place.
This year has also seen the return of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, which, yet again, puts a huge spotlight on the division and after the year break, the tournament is yet another big step in bringing NXT back to the very top.
One thing NXT most certainly is doing better than both RAW and Smackdown LIVE is its use of factions. Every wrestling fan grew up watching at least one faction whether it be DX, Evolution, or NWO. However, recent years have seen a massive decline in Factions used on the main roster. Aside from the Shield and the Wyatt Family, the WWE haven’t pushed or focused on building a faction that truly dominants like they did back in the day.
NXT, however, has introduced the Undisputed Era and Sanity into the mix and we sure have been provided with some excellent content. The return of War Games last year was a further indication of how well factions can be booked in the modern day. Looking at the two leading factions, both teams represent something completely different. Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Riley showcase an old-school faction with the potential to grow in numbers, while Sanity is something different, modern and very interesting that with the right booking could be huge!
The two teams have been a huge step in pushing NXT to the next level. Sanity having a female member is a fresh new twist that has worked perfectly and fans are constantly left entertained.
Now, the Undisputed Era consists of three fantastic stars that all have experience on the independent scene, and WWE over the past five years has welcomed a handful of names from around the world on the indie scene including the UK and Japan. These include Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, Hideo Itami and other popular names such as Samoa Joe and Eric Young. However, the past year and a half has really focused on homegrown talent.
We seem to easily forget that NXT is a growing stage. It’s where fresh new talent learn and grow so they eventually are ready for the main roster. However, it’s those big signings that distract us from that fact. What we have seen more recently is the WWE focus on building those names to come fresh out of the WWE Performance Center. The Velveteen Dream, Tino Sabbatelli, Lars Sullivan, and Bianca Blair are amongst those who haven’t had ten years of experience on the indie scene, but that the WWE have taken under the wing and pushed as the future of the company.
While they all are yet to hold gold, the opportunities they have been given are huge. The Velveteen Dream, in particular, has become one of the most popular and over names in all of the WWE and it is brilliant to see. What these names do is remind us of what NXT is really about. It takes us back to the original days of when the brand first launched and has proven to be a success.
While it has been brilliant seeing those fresh new faces make such a big impact, introducing big names that have given the roster it’s star quality back has been key in retaining fan interest and reminding us all why we love the brand so much. Aliester Black’s arrival was a huge deal. Very popular on the British scene in particular, the dark, intense, and very modern and unique character that is Aliester Black has been a big success. He’s brought something very fresh to the scene that fans have taken a huge liking to, as he looks to go on to become champion.
It’s also clear that even bigger new faces are about to take over and reinforce the star quality. Talent with names including Shayna Baszler, Ricochet, Candice Le’Rae, War Machine, and EC3 promise a very exciting future for NXT and has most certainly given the roster more depth and star quality.
NXT isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. The women’s division continues to grow and while it is an area that continues to seek improvement and booking at the level we saw when the Four Horsewomen were on the scene, it is still a very positive area. There is a great deal of potential with the likes of Kairi Sane, Shayna Baszler, Candice Le’Rae, and Zelina Vega. The future looks very bright for women’s wrestling down in NXT.
Takeover Shows also remain one of the best things in wrestling. Johnny Gargano and Andrade Cien Almas recently reminded fans around the world why NXT is the home of some of the best wrestling in the world. They competed in a five-star match that is sure to be the match of the year in the eyes of many fans. The quality of matches are forever improving with talent such as Velveteen Dream and Kassius Ohno raising the bar every single time they step in the ring; and, of course, we have the UK Division that has given NXT a new and exciting edge.
Tyler Bate, Trent Seven, and Pete Dunne are amongst those from the UK Championship tournament that have featured regularly on NXT. Their inclusion has extend the roster and like I said, brought something new and exciting. We also have a fresh new commentary team that works excellently and as NXT continues to grow, recordings are taking place outside of Full Sail.
While NXT may have had it’s rough patch, it is back on the rise. There is plenty to look forward to and as the brand forever proves, the future of the WWE is brighter than ever each and every week we are shown that the Future Is Now.