How NXT Is Breeding The Next Generation Of WWE Superstars
Wrestling is about to hit another golden era with the hype, talent and excitement we haven't seen since the 90s.
As always, times are changing and the business is evolving, but this shift is in large part thanks to the WWE's developmental brand, NXT. I'll have more on that in a second.
Sure, it's been a struggle since the Attitude Era, when there were no rules and guys like The Rock, Stone Cold and Mick Foley were taking sports entertainment to the next level.
But, if this current trend of talented, young superstars finding their lanes keeps up, then it's time to be excited about the future.
The WWE has gone through a multitude of eras and was always carried by different wrestlers over the years.
From the Golden Age, when guys like Hulk Hogan and Macho Man first made their names, to the aforementioned Attitude Era, the WWE is only carried by one thing and one thing only -- its wrestlers!
However, for nearly the last decade, the corporate-friendly "PG" or "reality" era that has been pushed on us feels a little weak.
With the lack of in-ring performers on the same level as past generations, interest has dropped and the WWE lost some of the mainstream appeal it had in the late 90s.
Still, there's hope that a new pack of sports entertainers can pick up the slack and create a new era that reminds us of the past.
The PG Era is coming to an end, and it's finally a new day.
But is there a lack of ambition by wrestlers in the new era?
Vince McMahon recently called out the new generation of Millennial wrestlers for being too lazy on Stone Cold's podcast, questioning the ambition in any of the wrestlers "willing to grab the brass rings."
The truth is, there's never going to be another "Texas Rattlesnake," "Face of Fear" or "People's Champion," again.
But, there doesn't need to be. It's a brand new generation with superstars ready to leave their marks and change history.
Daniel Bryan didn't agree with Vince's comments at all.
In an interview with the former WWE World Heavyweight champion, Daniel Bryan said,
There's an older generation of people who say, 'No, you guys should want this, you guys should want this, you guys should want this.' Whereas our generation, a lot of us say, 'No, we don't want that, we want something different, and a lot of the things that you guys wanted, are the reason that the world is messed up. We need to change our value system.' So that's it, that's a very different take on what's going on.
The talent is there and it's about to get better.
Guys like Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Rusev, Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt and Seth Rollins are big pieces to the future puzzle of the company.
What they all have in common are exceptional in-ring skills, a connection with the WWE universe and the hunger to be the best in the business.
While they all come from different backgrounds -- wrestling in different promotions throughout the US before making it to the main roster -- they are all products of WWE's exciting new brand, NXT.
NXT is creating a new generation of superstars ready to change the game and shape out a new era.
The NXT is essentially the D-League for wrestling.
But instead of wrestlers just getting lost in the shuffle, the WWE uses the platform to polish stars they want to call up next to the main roster.
Some would even argue their weekly show is better than "RAW."
One of those people is none other than Stone Cold Steve Austin. During a recent podcast, he said,
It's [NXT] simple, it's to the point. It's not dumbed down like 'Monday Night RAW.' On 'Monday Night RAW' it's like they want to fill in every blank for you. It's wrestling for morons. They've overthought it.
Instead of trying to force a storyline down everybody's throats, NXT uses wrestlers' desires to climb to the top of the WWE's main roster as the driving force behind every storyline, which is as real as it gets.
Grantland columnist David Shoemaker said it best,
The irony is that NXT was in theory supposed to be a way for non-WWE talents to get used to “WWE style” — the size of the ring, the camera positions, the in-ring tropes. In reality, instead of preparing them for Raw, NXT teaches its talents how to work a regional NWA broadcast from 1983. I mean that as a compliment.
NXT takes wrestling back to its roots and focuses in on what's truly most important -- the actual wrestling and in-ring action!
Just look at the WWE today and you'll see that most (if not all) of the young and promising talent made their way from NXT.
Kevin Owens is the symbol of the New Generation.
We witnessed arguably the greatest debut in WWE history when Kevin Owens defeated John Cena.
Coming in as a fan favorite from NXT, many people, including legends like Hogan, The Rock and Stone Cold, already vouched for him and acknowledged that his signing was big for the future of the company.
But it was Triple H -- the executive vice president of the WWE and driving force behind NXT -- who pushed for Owens the most and turned his dream into a reality.
You're looking at the future WWE World Heavyweight Champion in Kevin Owens.
The Champ Is Here! @FightOwensFight#WWEChamberpic.twitter.com/7BHAwJX28l — Triple H (@TripleH) June 1, 2015
Just look at The Shield — one of the most dominant factions of our generation crafted by raw talent straight out of NXT.
Reigns, Ambrose and Rollins are all part of the main event, just a year after debuting, and are now huge pieces to the puzzle moving forward.
The Divas haven't been lost in the shuffle, either.
Female wrestlers like Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley and Charlotte are ready to bring life back to the women's division.
It's been some time since we've seen the females make a significant impact in the WWE, but these hardworking ladies are already changing that by being the main event of pay-per-views and starting a whole new movement.
Charlotte, daughter of wrestling legend Ric Flair, said it best,
You know the phrase, 'Be the hardest worker in the room'? That's hard with the NXT women's division, because I can honestly say every girl is the hardest worker in the room. This sounds corny, but if you think of destiny, we're all here together.
If all upcoming wrestlers can adopt this same attitude -- the same attitude legends of yesterday had -- then we can only expect big things.
With more focus on the actual wrestling, NXT is giving the WWE a blueprint for what we should expect for the future of the industry.
Becky Lynch, Charlotte and Sasha Banks made their epic debut to Monday Night Raw and will change the game.
Their debut means much more than just some new talent on the roster.
This move is sure to change the landscape of the not only the women's division but the entire WWE. The future is looking brighter than ever.
Dream is smiling..... #TellEmBabyGirl #NXTKids @StephMcMahon @MsCharlotteWWE @BeckyLynchWWE @SashaBanksWWE pic.twitter.com/GtF33TH2TI — Triple H (@TripleH) July 14, 2015
It's time to embrace the New Generation and watch some damn wrestling.
Only time will tell if we'll ever see that TV-14 content in wrestling again, but as long as they're getting back to the roots of the sport, fans will be happy.
Pro wrestling is a product that evolves with the times. It's all about what the people want to see, and right now, they just want that real sh*t.
If they can continue to convert the success of NXT into the main show, this will be television that's 100 percent worth watching for years to come.