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Welcome to the place where fun never ends, it’s Mr. Tito‘s column exclusively here at LordsofPain.net. Folks, I’m going to get right to it… No “Top 10 Takeaways from the Week in Wrestling” tonight because I’m about to officially declare the WINNER of the recent “WAR”. You know, the wrestling war between WWE, its NXT subsidiary, AEW, and the rest of the companies trying to fight for crumbs (NWA, Impact, Ring of Honor, MLW). I know that it’s early and the paint is still fresh on companies like AEW and NWA…
But the winner of this “war” is obvious to me…
And they proved it tonight by accident on WWE Smackdown, thanks to mechanical problems that kept WWE wrestlers stranded overseas.
I’m here to tell you that NXT is the VERY BEST professional wrestling promotion in the country right now.
It’s perfect. The promotion has everything that I want in pro wrestling.
(a) Strong HEEL Stable
(b) Strong stable of Main Event wrestlers to challenge for the top title.
(c) Solid midcard title with contenders kept separate from the top title.
(d) Strong Tag Team division.
(e) Strong Women’s Division. Since 2014, they’ve had the best Women’s Division and that’s not even a debate.
(f) Strong in-ring workrate.
(g) Presents wrestling like a real sport.
(h) Let’s wrestlers cut logical promos.
(i) Let’s black wrestlers be flamboyant characters instead of playing up stereotypes.
(j) Announcing team that is credible and cares about what’s happening in the ring.
As I’m writing this, the WWE Smackdown viewership numbers have YET to come in… But I’m praying that they are HIGHER this week with NXT talent featured than the Smackdown viewership numbers from 2 weeks ago which was 2,442,000 on average. Or close. If at least equal, it will prove that the WWE brand can draw the same number no matter who appears on the show. But if the viewership numbers are up, it shall prove that NXT has been on the right path with its current roster.
However, if Smackdown viewership is down, you can’t blame NXT either. I know, you can’t have it both ways…. But yes you can.
Despite NXT being on USA Networks, the WWE poorly promotes it. They just threw it on USA with the expectation that fans might view it. They barely mention NXT at all on either RAW or Smackdown and WWE’s online materials mostly ignores promoting the NXT brand. Right now, WWE cares most about money pouring in from overseas and trying to make the FOX deal work. They only placed NXT on Wednesdays to TROLL All Elite Wrestling.
I believe that wrestling fans were insulted by WWE’s move to place NXT on Wednesdays… Fans want to give AEW a chance to blossom as a promotion and saw WWE’s move to place NXT against it as disrespectful. That and it’s just tough to watch 7 freakin’ hours of WWE content. Coming up here shortly, we’ll endure a weekend with a Takeover + WWE Pay Per View. Thus, that means 5 days of your week will be dedicated to WWE/NXT content… Phew, that’s a lot of wrestling to watch and follow. Can you spare us time to spend with our families, eat, do things around the house, watch other shows, or to actually sleep?
But I also believe that many wrestling fans consider NXT to be the “minor league” of the WWE. Now, I’ve been saying that for years about NXT because, simply put, wrestlers from NXT do join the WWE roster eventually. WWE’s developmental ecosystem is (a) workout at the Developmental Center, (b) join NXT, and then (c) join the main WWE roster. So I’m not sounding like Kenny Omega who called NXT “minor league”.
What I’m here to suggest, however, is to consider NXT as a co-equal brand to the main WWE rosters of RAW and Smackdown.
WWE Corporation can first declare that NXT is “no longer a minor league” and that each of the NXT wrestlers are getting promoted financially and that RAW/Smackdown can no longer raid the NXT roster. IN FACT, there’s a chance that NXT can raid the WWE rosters… I know that Finn Balor didn’t work out on the WWE roster, but I like that a decent caliber wrestler ditched WWE for NXT. Put someone like Cesaro back on the NXT roster and he’ll thrive. Oh wait, they already tried that and he did! WWE keeps missing out on the potential Main Event star in Cesaro… One of these days, he’ll be free of that WWE contract and Vince McMahon will regret letting him go.
NXT needs to be marketed better as a show… Start pouring marketing dollars into the promotion and advertise it anywhere you can. Begin to let the top stars of NXT make appearances in the public eye. Start treating their top guys like stars.
In case you haven’t watched NXT yet this year, let me describe what I like about the promotion:
Undisputed Era is the best stable since the Shield
The Undisputed Era consists of Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, and Roderick Strong and the four of them actually own all of the male title belts with Cole as NXT Champion, Strong as North American Champion, and Fish/O’Reilly holding the Tag Titles. Just a solid group of guys who gang up on their opponents like heels, cut great promos, and just absolutely crush it in the ring. I almost wish that JJ Dillon would suddenly appear and the 4 wrestlers would hold up that hand single to call themselves the Horsemen.
This guy is awesome… He’s dripping of personality and charisma while being an amazing athlete inside the ring. Sometimes, he’s over-the-top with the look and promos… It’s as Eric Bischoff once said about Diamond Dallas Page when he had too many gimmicks about his character: tone it down! Less is more! When you have a great personality and are very charismatic, you don’t need the extra bells & whistles. Someone like Lady Gaga recently figured that out in the music industry. She toned down her look and presentation, which was getting out of hand, and has had remarkable success lately. Dream is one of those once-in-a-lifetime talents that could be special in the right spotlight.
The online crowd loves Mauro Ranallo… But I really like how both Beth Phoenix and Nigel McGuinness complement him as color commentators. Mauro usually calls most of the match but Beth and Nigel just add tidbits here and there. With both being ex-performers, they are both quite knowledgeable and appear very credible. I really like Beth Phoenix in particular and she’ll help break down announcer barriers for future women.
Legit badasses in the Women’s Division
Last week, we witnessed Bianca Belair versus Rhea Ripley… Holy cow, what a match. Belair is very charismatic but she is an amazing athlete and full of charisma. Ripley is a pure badass… And neither lady is NXT Women’s Champion. Shayna Baszler is the champ and she has those 2 credible wrestlers to always challenge her. Ripley looks like a legit star, though… She has everything that you wish to have as a dominant female performer.
Best authority figure with William Regal.
William Regal is the best authority figure and that’s because we barely see him… He just appears to make an occasional ruling, much like Jack Tunney did a while ago. He doesn’t need to appear nightly to cut a 20 minute promo like other McMahon authority figures kept trying.
Finn Balor is back
Finn works much better in the NXT setting because the wrestlers are similar in size to him and he can also work as a heel if needed. He was babyface for most of his WWE career and was constantly undercut by Creative. Now, he’s a big fish in a smaller pond and the Full Sail crowd can embrace him.
I like the Smaller Arena at Full Sail
I like the smaller intimate setting of Full Sail University. The Lighting sucks, that’s it. As NWA is proving with their studio show, you don’t need a large arena to put on a good wrestling show. However, what the WWE should hopefully be learning is that lighting and entrances need to be adjusted in a smaller arena. Just seems too dark in that arena. I believe if they toned down the entrance way and improved the lighting in that arena, all will be good.
Matt Riddle is a freak!
I seriously put Matt Riddle in that “freak” category with Kurt Angle. He’s a guy from another sport who instantly “gets it” about pro wrestling and performs like he has been doing it his entire life. I look forward to every match of his and I love the barefoot look. Fans of Jimmy Snuka, Kevin Von Erich, various Samoan Teams, etc. appreciate that throwback to wrestling barefoot.
I really don’t need to type much. This guy is a legit badass (overcame major injuries), an amazing athlete, cuts great promos, and looks terrifying.
I could go on and on… Just start watching NXT, especially if you are a first time viewer of their performers from tonight’s Smackdown. Tell a friend, spread it online… If anything, your open appreciation of NXT will influence Vince McMahon to change things on the WWE roster.
Of course, my prediction is that Smackdown tonight will convince Vince that he needs to raid the NXT roster to place them on the RAW/Smackdown rosters.
I was SHOCKED to witness Adam Cole to defeat Daniel Bryan tonight in an amazing match and then the full NXT embrace afterward. It was great WWE booking tonight with the rest of the WWE stuck on an airplane somewhere.
THAT was the marketing of the NXT brand that I’m talking about. Treat them like an EQUAL brand and promote them as a legitimate promotion that the WWE doesn’t just raid randomly.
Triple H needs to be commended for the current crop of wrestlers at the NXT promotion… Don’t ruin it… NXT can legitimately defeat AEW each week if the WWE wants to promote NXT as something other than their “minor league”.
MAKE MINE NXT, BAY BAY!
So just chill… Until the next episode!
Play my Pro Wrestling themed Mario Maker 2 courses on the Nintendo Switch:
Super Wrestling Bros: 0H6-9HT-S5G
WWE Royal Rumble: SDH-JC2-HFG
WWE Elimination Chamber: P3B-5DJ-91G
WCW World War 3: BT4-W1Y-HRG
Extreme Championship Wrestling: 42J-4GT-W3G
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