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The future of WWE is bright with NXT




This guest post is being brought to you by the one and only Lady J. You can, and should, follow her on twitter @TheLadyJSays

On Monday nights, my Twitter feed is absolutely clogged with hate. Not for me, mind you, but for what my twitter followers are watching: RAW. All of social media between 8pm and 11pm EST seems to be a barrage of negativity.

“What is WWE thinking, seriously?!”

“This is just stupid. I can’t even watch this.”

“I’m going to bed.”

Now, I can’t lie. I am part of this. I am consistently let down with the programming on the show I choose to invest my time in. But I think all of us smarks out there need to take a deep knee bend and think about what it is we’re getting upset about.

As someone who spent her time in university studying playwriting, general theater, and creative writing, I don’t look at professional wrestling the same as many of my comrades. I admittedly know little about in-ring performance. I still don’t know the name of all the moves and I don’t always know when they’re being executed properly. But I recognize talent on the mic. I know when a story line and a character have come together perfectly. I can see it when the light finally went on for a performer and they’ve finally connected with their audience. When I get frustrated with RAW, it is almost always in regards to story lines and promos. That frustration has led me to seek satisfaction elsewhere in pro wrestling.

That’s how I became addicted to NXT.

Before I continue, I should say this: when NXT airs on WWE Network on Thursday nights, my Twitter feed still contains a few grumpy curmudgeon smarks who will never be satisfied and are only content when they have something to complain about. But, on the whole, everyone seems to be enjoying themselves much more. And why is that? Any smart ass will tell you in 140 characters or less that the difference between NXT and RAW is who is in charge. That’s a fair statement, and also has the added bonus of being true. But there’s so much more that goes into NXT that sets it apart.

NXT as a product features all of the things that pro wrestling fans came to expect from RAW over the years. The roster is populated by a wide variety of characters from silent giants to loud-mouth cruiserweights, big-haired divas to ponytail-sporting girls next door. Each wrestler brings something different to the table, running the gamut of wrestling styles and abilities. From week to week, you are almost guaranteed to find something to your liking. New characters are constantly being introduced, but never to the detriment of the roster. Everyone gets a fair shot to make an impact, to prove themselves worthy.

When it comes to story, NXT never leaves me feeling we are merely witnessing someone’s tryout for the main roster. Each story, each feud, has been expertly crafted and all of the performers take their arcs very seriously. While all stories can be boiled to a handful of basic conflicts (man vs. man, man vs. himself, man vs. nature, etc.,) I never feel that stories are being recycled on NXT. Feuds seem to develop organically. There are clear and simple lines draw, which allows each performer to utilize their own skills to draw the audience in to deeper levels of their conflicts.

Sometimes you can see that someone is not quite comfortable with the mic yet, but there’s always a voice in the back of your head that says “that’s okay! They’re going to get the help they need to improve that skill.” You can see the improvement from week to week, which only helps to connect the audience to the performer. You can’t help but love a character you watched grow and blossom.

There is also a clearer understand of divisions in NXT that I feel is lacking on the main roster. A lot of times when a character falls flat on RAW he resurfaces as part of a tag team. Occasionally this works to his advantage (a la Cody Rhodes as Stardust with his brother Goldust), but rarely so. On NXT, the tag team division seems to exist as a separate entity from the singles. Occasionally there are crossovers, like a few months ago when Sami Zayn joined Adam Rose to compete for a chance to become the number one contenders for the title. But generally, teams like The Ascension, The Vaudevillains, Enzo & Big Cass and The Legionnaires are going to show up at least once per episode.

One of the biggest differences between NXT and RAW is how the women’s division is approached. A women’s match in NXT is not a place to take a bathroom break. It’s not a time to utilize the “we’re fighting over a guy” storyline. These ladies are tough, they are battling for supremacy, and guys rarely ever have anything to do with it. In fact, the latest addition to the women’s roster, Carmella, has been brushing off the advances of Enzo Amore so she can kick some serious butt in the ring.

My favorite part about NXT, though, is certainly how they rotate performers through from episode to episode, make sure that just around the time you’re wondering, “hey, I haven’t seen blank in a while,” they show up on your screen. They’ve managed to keep enough people in the running for the title that quite a few different people have been main eventing over the past several weeks. We see a variety of tag team matches, women’s matches, and even occasionally someone from the main roster (who is almost always showed who’s boss) within a single episode of NXT. Week to week, story lines are carried because they intertwine. This week, a tag team battle royal for the #1 contender spot ended with The Ascension (who were looking to take back their belts from the Lucha Dragons) facing off against The Vaudevillains. That is, until a new nemesis of theirs, Hideo Itami, showed up to distract them just long enough to get the Vaudevillains the win. Now we know the Vaudevillains chasing the title story AND the Ascension/Hideo story lines will get fleshed out in the coming weeks, even if we only see one of these per episode. That kind of crossover story is occasionally attempted in RAW (Cena and Ambrose vs. Rollins comes to mind) but hardly ever carried through.

NXT is constantly referred to as “the future of the WWE”, and clearly it is in terms of talent. But hopefully not just the talent but the writing and production will carry over as well. In time, the focus and intricacies that make NXT so enthralling to watch will help to bring RAW back up to must-see TV status.

The Lady J is bringing her personal brand of internet sass via the US capitol, where she lives with her golden doodle roommate Gizmo and cannot find a good bagel to save her life. While it may not seem very lady-like, she is actually cutting a promo on you right now.

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