There is said to be a behind-the-scenes power struggle with the WWE NXT brand, that goes with the new company directive for the NXT product.
WWE released several NXT talents (Bronson Reed, Desmond Troy, Tyler Rust, Bobby Fish, Leon Ruff, Mercedes Martinez, Jake Atlas, Ari Sterling, Asher Hale, Zechariah Smith, Giant Zanjeer, Kona Reeves, referee Stephon Smith) last Friday night, which were decided on by WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon, Executive Producer John Laurinaitis, and Talent Relations head John Laurinaitis. It was noted before that NXT heads Triple H and Shawn Michaels didn’t have a say in the releases, but word now is that they weren’t even aware of the cuts until after Laurinaitis started making the release phone calls to the various talents, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
The releases led to morale issues in NXT, when the brand hasn’t had this problem in the past. It was previously reported that the new philosophy for NXT includes “no more midgets, no one starting in their 30s” as top company officials want wrestlers that can be box office attractions, and main characters. While this is the new directive, there will always be exceptions, with talents such as Adam Cole.
The new company directive for the NXT product and the behind-the-scenes power struggle involves those who fear for their positions, if and when Triple H takes over, and thus want to undermine him, and those who support Triple H, according to the Observer. It was noted that it’s been considered a given that Triple H would run the wrestling end of WWE while President Nick Khan would run the business end if something were to happen to Vince.
Triple H was thought to be untouchable, but there is reportedly a feeling that he failed to stop AEW’s rise, and lost “the war” between NXT and AEW Dynamite. These factors gave Triple H’s detractors, and those who felt he would replace them, obvious ammunition to use against him. The idea was that Triple H was in control, and in a fight, but his vision for the NXT product failed to attract younger viewers. The Observer noted that within the TV and the wrestling business, it was considered a given that NXT would eventually dominate Wednesday nights, especially with the backing of WWE, but that didn’t happen.
It was noted by people within WWE that the situation became increasingly toxic because it was more of a power grab and people looking out for their own futures, and considering the wrestlers as pawns in the whole deal. There was a feeling that Triple H had stocked the NXT roster up with too many wrestlers who had no potential for the main roster, as he was quick to sign indie wrestlers as fast as possible if they showed any sign of potential, to stockpile wrestlers and keep them from signing with AEW and other promotions.
NXT was originally created to be a WWE developmental territory, but there was an idea that it was filled with 5-foot-8 guys who were past 30 years of age, and Vince had the mentality that those wrestlers can’t be main roster stars, at least for the most part because there are exceptions. Top officials wanted bigger wrestlers, and more characters developed.
One source noted that there was a mindset that when WWE would sign indie wrestlers, they would first have to beat “the independent” out of them when it came to their in-ring style, but when talents were called up to RAW or SmackDown, they had to beat “the NXT” out of them first.
It will be interesting to see what happens to the NXT brand after Takeover 36 is held during SummerSlam Weekend, and if they do another major reset with the brand. It’s been reported that a new logo and a new look with new lighting is in the works, with a format change to the weekly NXT TV show, among other changes.
Stay tuned for more on the future of the NXT brand.