Since receiving an image overhaul and a new format a couple of months ago NXT has proven to be WWE’s most consistent show as far as wrestling quality is concerned. Almost all of the show’s time is dedicated to what wrestling fans like most: wrestling matches. Backstage skits are practically non-existent and even interviews are rare. This is a show that WWE fans can watch to see some solid wrestling action. If you’ve watched RAW or SmackDown over the last few years you’ll know how novel that is.
As you will read below the new NXT puts me in mind of the old ROH on HDNet show. It’s not just because of the running time or the use of a smaller venue or even that some of the men appearing on NXT also appeared on HDNet. It’s because it has the same feel: two or three matches that get a good amount of time with a couple of glorified squash matches thrown in for good measure, with everyone involved wanting to put on the best show possible.
My initial reaction when I read about the crowning of an NXT champion was that WWE is already overloaded with titles. It didn’t needed another. I have since reconsidered.
It’s become clear since it was announced that an NXT belt would become reality that the show exists within its own little bubble (think of it as a distant galaxy within the vastness that is the WWE Universe if it helps). The main roster is only ever mentioned fleetingly, usually in reference to the NXT grapplers working hard to earn a spot there. Any full-fledged WWE Superstars that happen to appear on the show are ones that are treated as jobbers on RAW and SmackDown.
Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre are perfect examples. On the rare occasions they appear on Monday night’s premier sports entertainment show they can be expected to get jobbed out in a matter of seconds. On NXT they are allowed to have lengthy, competitive matches and – gasp – sometimes get to win.
Seth Rollins gave Drew McIntyre his most competitive match in months on this week's NXT
NXT is not a show you watch for CM Punk or Daniel Bryan. It’s certainly not a show you watch for John Cena. It’s a show you watch to see wrestling matches featuring WWE’s young talent and the guys who haven’t managed to make the impact they likely would have wanted on the main roster but can still produce exciting bouts.
As it’s unlikely anyone recognised as NXT champion will ever appear on RAW or SmackDown during their reign I don’t see what harm the belt can do. Having a championship on the show creates a central focus, makes it easier to write storylines, and makes it easier to highlight stars about to be promoted. As the title is unlikely to be acknowledged, let alone seen, on WWE’s bigger shows where’s the harm in having it?
Judging by the two matches we saw this week the wrestlers on the show actually want to make the title mean something. That’s commendable and is a promising sign for both the future of WWE and NXT itself. Leo Kruger v Richie Steamboat, while slow in places, was a good back and forth match, while McIntyre v Rollins is easily one of the best matches to grace WWE television over the last month.
If the rest of the tournament is as good as this the belt should mean something when the finals are aired in a few weeks’ time. If that’s the case then the viewers are more likely to care about the men battling for it.
The belt’s still ugly though.
Dusty Rhodes promo
Tweet 1: NXTweet.
Tweet 2: Opening strong with a 'Dream' promo! #eefyooweel #baybee
Tweet 3: Where is Dusty's office? I like to think he's in a bunker in the middle of a desert. Maybe a desert abroad.
Tweet 4: Gold Rush tournament. Various NXT guys involved along with Jinder Mahal. No Kassius. Oh no!!
Tweet 5: See what I did there?
Richie Steamboat v Leo Kruger
Tweet 6: That is one ugly belt.
Tweet 7: Richie Steamboat v Leo Kruger. I suspect this will be a slow match.
Tweet 8: "How fitting is it that Leo Kruger and Richie Steamboat are facing each other in this quarter final match?" asks Byron Saxton. Very, Byron.
Tweet 9: Very.
Tweet 10: Kruger using the old heel trick of running round the ring and then attacking his opponent when they roll back in.
Tweet 11: JR laughably refers to this as a strategy. Gott love 'im.
Tweet 12: Kruger would look much better with short hair. His current haircut makes him look like a WCW mid-carder.
Tweet 13: NXT, where even the refs are new.
Tweet 14: Judging by Saxton's reaction I think Kruger's finish may be a sleeper. That’s almost as bad as using the Full Nelson. #Masterpiece
Tweet 15: Does Kruger have "FUDGE" written on his trunks? Oh no, it says "KRUGER". That makes sense I suppose.
Tweet 16: Junior Dragon got a surprise win with a strange swinging DDT/back breaker. Good. He's better than Kruger.
Note the sash
Adam Mercer v Big E Langston
Tweet 17: Big E Langston. He's called that because... well, he's big.
Tweet 18: He can squat 750lbs and bench press 600lbs apparently. I assume these are impressive numbers.
Tweet 19: Regal says Langston can deadlift 700lbs. Great. Good for him. He's intelligent because he has a presence about him when he talks. Also great.
Tweet 20: The commentary team should prep more for debuting talent.
Tweet 21: "He throws sandbags around that weigh 200lbs... He plays with them" - William Regal on Big E Langston
Tweet 22: Langston has one of the worst finishing moves I've ever seen. Still, he's tall and muscular so he's probably a future world champion.
Tweet 23: McIntyre v Rollins in a "quarter final" match. Why not say first round? Or opening round?
Raquel Diaz v Audrey Marie
Tweet 24: Raquel Diaz looks familiar... #Eddiesdaughter
Tweet 25: Diaz has a really annoying voice. In fairness it's probably part of the gimmick. She's still a more interesting character than Alicia Fox.
Tweet 26: Sloppy exchanges and blown spots galore. Now the crowd are chanting "You can't wrestle!" Oh dear...
Tweet 27: Despite her inability to wrestle Diaz wins with the Gory Bomb. She's a good promo and I still think she'd be good on the main roster.
Briley Pierce backstage with Paige
Tweet 28: Briley Pierce looks familiar… #Dolphsbrother
Tweet 29: Are we meant to be excited at the prospect of a feud between Paige and Raquel? Mission: failed.
Hunico and Camacho v Jason Jordan and Mike Dalton
Tweet 30: Jason Jordan and Mike Dalton. Hey, that rhymes! They got introduced while standing in the ring. Hunico and Camacho to go over then?
Tweet 31: Hunico should come out dressed as Sin Cara Negro one week. Just for the lols.
Tweet 32: The NXT booking team should spend six months building up a Camacho v Big E Langston match. #rawpower
Tweet 33: Dalton pins Camacho?! SAYWHAAAAAT?! I'm going to stop making assumptions with NXT. It is a different beast to RAW and SmackDown.
Seth Rollins v Drew McIntyre
Tweet 34: How much time needs to be dedicated to Drew McIntyre's entrance? Not this much, surely?Tweet 35: Rollins seems VERY excited by that NXT belt. He must have forgotten the ROH belt he used to have. That was much better looking.
Tweet 36: The NXT championship is what every wrestler on the indies wants. Davey Richards would happily trade his ROH career for an NXT title match.
Tweet 37: The reason Samoa Joe went to TNA is that he knew he wouldn't have a chance at capturing the NXT strap.
Tweet 38: In fairness I actually think NXT is the best weekly show available to wrestling fans. It reminds me of ROH on HDNet.
Tweet 39: That show was hugely underrated. Even some ROH fans seemed to dislike it. I thought it was better than what they have now.
Tweet 40: Back to McIntyre v Rollins. I have just noticed the referee is wearing what appears to be an oven glove.
Tweet 41: Is that the CHIKARA logo on McIntyre's trunks?
Tweet 42: McIntyre is leading a CHIKARA invasion! What an angle! He will soon be appearing in CHIKARA as 'Scotmask'.
Tweet 43: Actually... that appears to be a picture of a dragon. It's not a very big one though. Perhaps McIntyre made those trunks himself.
Tweet 44: Painted them up in his garage...
Tweet 45: Rollins sold that clothesline really nicely. I've not really mentioned it before now but this is a really good match.
Tweet 46: "Outstanding matchup!" - Jim Ross, overselling
Tweet 47: Redoing the finish of their match last week was a nice touch. I'm pleased Rollins went over. He should be on the main roster. Great talent.