How NXT Killed WWE

If wrestling was music WWE would be Bubble Gum Pop and NXT would be Indie Rock. With WWE you have guys on the roster who deserve to be over as a face or heel because they connect with people worldwide, then you have a roster of forgettable cliché and contrived characters who are trying to repeat that same formula to get over in that SAME exact way. Pop music is similar, some very talented artist surrounded by a bunch of manufactured copycats who are making a living because the masses just want what’s familiar, not original. Look at NXT, the developmental territory that turned into the best wrestling show of the week and how they carved out their own lane. With NXT you have a bunch of raw talent who aren’t afraid to try new things, who want to reach Stone Cold levels so bad that they aren’t afraid to crash and burn trying to grab that brass ring. They are like Indie musicians who play with the format, write songs that aren’t radio friendly, and aren’t afraid if they break through on the charts, only if they go for broke. NXT, with Triple H as the mad genius behind the curtain has succeeded in coaching his soldiers up to take risks, not protect their jobs in the company. Hunter understands that the future of wrestling isn’t about repeating the formula of The Rock, John Cena, Bret Hart, or Shawn Michaels. It’s about digging deep and making a name like Sasha Banks be spoken in the same breath as Trish Stratus. NXT stars are fearless and creative, whereas WWE’s main roster is hell-bent on making its talent stick to hits people know.

The old school addicts who watch it out of habit and still appreciate the art of wrestling, selling, storytelling, and athleticism.

The New School who were raised on spots; they want to see tables, ladders, stunt work, and an occasional promo that toes the line of reality.

The final type aren’t the kids, because kids have always been a part of wrestling from Deep South to WCW. The last group are actually the WWE Zombies. They don’t follow the independent scene, they don’t know the history of any of these guys they haven’t seen on Raw, and they want who WWE puts in front of them to cheer and boo.

The term “Mark” is used to describe someone that buys into the wrestling product 100%. In this post- Kayfabe area, these new Marks buy into what Vince McMahon tells them to buy into and that’s where NXT comes in. For the first time since the Monday Night Wars, wrestling fans get to say, “This is sh*t, but that’s incredible.” The WWE Zombies are told who to like and who to hate by Michael Cole and JBL. The WWE Zombies are told who to pop for by the pipped in Smackdown cheers. It’s old territory style manipulation that wrestling is known for, but here’s where it becomes a problem…

WWE Zombies go to live shows, where there is no Michael Cole or JBL to tell them RKO Vs Sheamus Part 18 is worth it. To go to an arena filled with the Smarks and hear them chant for Cesaro when he’s not put over on commentary or used in storyline, confuses these Zombies. To hear guys cheer for Becky Lynch instead of chant “boring” is a new experience. Unlike the trendy “John Cena Sucks” chant or the “Boooo” that Roman Reigns is pelted with, it’s the midcard that becomes confusing to these Zombies. Should they cheer Dolph Ziggler because they like him or because the guy next to them with an old school Ultimate Warrior belt is saying he’s underutilized? These WWE Zombies are used to reacting the way the company wants them to react, but when confronted with a “Cool Crowd” their entire way of life becomes confused. They thought they were supposed to be chanting New Day Sucks, but in Brooklyn, they’re actually chanting New Day Rocks… what to do? They follow the crowd for that night, and then sadly go back to what they’re used to the next time they watch on TV because they don’t have their own brains!

WWE only listens to the audience when one of their big shows is hijacked. Royal Rumble in Philadelphia was a volatile environment that forced Vince to give Brock Lesnar more money to stay in WWE. Something like that doesn’t go away the next night, because the Zombies have been tainted by the cool crowds to the point where a choice has to be made quickly (aka on the fly booking). It’s a knee jerk reaction because when you go to Tampa, Cleveland, Green Bay, etc… those fans are 70% Zombies. They come to see Sports Entertainment, not wrestling. Therefore, they don’t chant the same way they chant in New York, Chicago, or London where the fans tend to be 70% Smarks. As a result you don’t see hijacked shows causing change more than a few times out of the year (Daniel Bryan and CM Punk are good examples from the past). The WWE doesn’t care about smart fans because they know that 9 months out of the year they will be in cities that have mostly Zombies, so they stay the course and keep trying to make uninspired pop music.

Here is the problem. Summerslam weekend NXT went before WWE, putting on their NXT Takeover show on Saturday night. That show was booked for wrestling fans: A vintage Cruiserweight match featuring a legend (Dad, what’s a Cruiserweight?). A tag team championship match that focused on the wrestling, only adding gimmick of the valets when it felt natural. A debut match where the debuting wrestler was meant to seem credible not just come in and squash a guy in a phony match. Finally, NXT gave us a woman’s championship match (not Diva) where the stakes were high and the story was engaging. In addition to that, they let women tell the story in the ring without announcers having to oversell or remind the audience “the main event is next.” F*** that bias commentary, in NXT Sasha and Bayley were treated like the main event, not a “hold on for the next match” gimmick time filler. It can be argued that the only let down match was the main event between Finn Balor and Kevin Owens, because of Owens current story with Cesaro, wasn’t really developed into a legitimate feud anyone cared about. NXT delivered a solid 9 out of 10 show or even a 10 out of 10 show in many people’s minds. Why? Because they let wrestling be wrestling, not a formulaic circus meant to get you to watch Raw the next night so the ratings can spike and the advertisers will do a money dance. Triple H has learned from his days in the Monday Night War trenches, that solid in work performance gets people talking. That engrossing stories gets people talking. That if you want someone to switch on a show, you have to build buzz, not through “The Rock’s back” or “Jon Stewart is here tonight,” but through good old fashion wrestling stories!

Summerslam wasn’t a bad show, but given the talent depth, it was a safe show. They gave us Sheamus for what? They gave us an overloaded Tag Team match that could have been twice as good with just New Day and The Prime Time Players. They gave us a Divas Triple Team match that didn’t have any story. The midcard shouldn’t be filler; it should serve to entertain the audience just as much as the main event. Where is the Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart type IC match? Where is Lita and Ivory fighting for the woman’s belt because it’s been built up for a month that they hate each other? We expect Brock and Taker to be big, we expect Cena Vs Rollins to give us drama and false finishes. Why can’t the WWE make us care about Kevin Owens the way NXT made us care about Kevin Owens? Why can’t a Rusev match be treated as serious as a Samoa Joe match on commentary? The Miz stole the show on Tough Enough as both a post-show host and Judge, he has the mouth skills of a young Paul Heyman, and the smart fans react to that, but the Zombies just want to Boooo him because that’s the way he’s written in these feuds, as just another body in the ring. Pathetic! WWE doesn’t insult its fan’s intelligence, it assumes that their audience is too dumb to understand that they’re being insulted.

I’m not challenging the WWE to push guys that I like, that’s a dead horse. It’s not about being bias towards certain Superstars, it’s about creating a playing field that’s more exciting and more spontaneous! One that allows the talent to get over without fearing that going for it will means they’re fired and off to TNA land if it fails. I’m challenging the fans that go to these shows from Maryland over to Nebraska and up to Tacoma, to stand up, bring creative signs, make noise, get the person next to you making noise, and cheer for who you want! Stop being suckers, and do your homework. Wrestling fans should know WRESTLING!

Go watch Charlotte matches; don’t just yawn because you don’t know who she is beyond some lame “Daughter of Ric Flair” script that the announcers are reading. Know what wrestling is, and stop chanting, “This is Awesome” every time a match goes longer than ten minutes and has a false finish. Understand wrestling the same way you have to understand music to know that The Beatles songwriting is superior to Maroon 5 songwriting. You can maintain your own taste, but make sure those tastes are based on something other than what’s been forced down your throat by Kevin Dunn. Vince McMahon listens to the fans, he’s backstage every live show, and he thinks, “Oh this is just a smart city,” so he stays the course. Prove Vince wrong and get off your ass, prove that EVERY city is smart, and make a change or suffer through month after month of the same Randy Orton match, the same John Cena promo, the same stop and start Fandango push, and the same disrespect of the Women’s division. NXT proves that real wrestling fans still exist, so either you’re one of us, or a F**king Zombie.

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