Ever since the fall of 2021, when NXT was remade into NXT 2.0 (the 2.0 has since been dropped), it has been commonplace to deride it as being a far inferior product compared to its 2014-2019 peak.
Of WWE’s three brands, I honestly enjoy NXT the most.
Some may find this confusing since the glory days of NXT were synonymous with a bevy of great workers up and down the cards. The quarterly Takeover specials of that era consistently delivered at a level that had never been approached in WWE before or since.
But that version of NXT was always a facade.
Vince McMahon was never truly behind the old NXT. With few exceptions, the vast majority of can’t miss NXT talents were greatly watered down after being called up to the main roster. Thankfully, we’ve seen a gradual reversal of this trend with Triple H at the helm of creative.
But should the old NXT have been so great in the first place? The answer is no.
There is no reason why a developmental brand should have shows filled with Match of the Year contenders. It just doesn’t make sense. How many great matches do you recall seeing in Ohio Valley, Deep South, or Florida Championship Wrestling? Or even on AEW Dark and Elevation?
The old NXT was a vanity indie promotion masquerading as WWE’s developmental brand in an effort to compete with the rise of Ring of Honor and, later, All Elite Wrestling. So many talents they signed during this period had no business being in NXT, and they were stuck there for years.
The current NXT is closer in tone to the original intent of what the brand should have always been, and that’s a place to develop raw talent who can succeed on the main roster.
Anyone who feels NXT is a bad product should immediately watch the replay of last weekend’s NXT DEADL1NE, which was one of WWE’s best major shows of the year. While the bulk of the show’s praise has rightfully gone to the two Iron Challenge matches, the NXT tag title match is what impressed me most.
New Day vs. Pretty Deadly featured a hilarious Eddie Guererro tribute that genuinely brought a smile to my face and reminded me that there are guys in WWE who can still deliver effective comedy in the context of a great match. What they accomplished in that match was equally as special as what FTR and the Briscoes accomplished under more brutal circumstances.
There are several things I’ve enjoyed about watching NXT this year, such as:
- The transformation of Mandy Rose from being just another woman on the main roster into a fighting champion.
- Cora Jade’s betrayal of Roxanne Perez and her transformation into a mean girl heel.
- The campiness of Chase U.
- Everything about Carmelo Hayes.
- The character work of Josh Briggs, Brooks Jensen, and Fallon Henley, especially during those barroom vignettes.
- The shockingly good Damon Kemp vs. Creed Brothers feud.
- The revitalization of Apollo Crews.
- The development of Bron Breakker into a superstar.
NXT may not be the same as it once was, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining.
You can read Jeuron Dove’s writings at jeurondovewrites.wordpress.com.