|WWE's developmental program guides the careers of the stars of tomorrow|
When people see guys like the former EL Generico (now known as Sami Zayn) or the recently signed "Mr. Wrestling" Kevin Steen placed in NXT and not immediately brought to the main WWE roster, they think that it's a waste of their talent and an insult to their careers. In my mind, there are three big reasons why this isn't the case.
1) The Chance to Work Out Your Nerves
|"Mr Wrestling" Kevin Steen will soon get his chance to shine in NXT|
No matter what you've done in the past in organizations like Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Noah etc, WWE is an entirely different animal.
The wrestling world has been forever changed by the invention/explosion of the Internet and social media. While both allow those of us working for sites like this one to get our foot in the door for a career in the sport that we all know and love, the fact is that it's created a big negative for professional wrestling that can never be changed back again. With everyone being able to access their Twitter and Facebook accounts to interact with their favorite performers, as well as having the ability to access sites like this one, there is no place for a talent to work on anything that they might need to improve upon because they're automatically placed under a microscope from day one!
This is where NXT comes into play. Imagine if your favorite performer walked immediately out onto Monday Night Raw and was overwhelmed with the realization that they had "made it." They would be so nervous that they would cut one of the worst promos imaginable or put on a terrible match which would then get them booed out of the building causing their WWE career to be killed before it even began.
Being in NXT allows the performer a chance to get used to the idea of being in WWE with the scale not being nearly as large. Not only does everyone get afforded the opportunity to work on their in-ring and promo skills, but in some cases they get to learn what is arguably the most important element to being a success in WWE for the first time: the art of storytelling. This is not a slam to any independent organization out there, given that I myself was afforded the opportunity in the past to be a part of the independent wrestling scene for a short time, but rather a simple facing of the facts. Many organizations do not focus on telling a story because their marketing is all about bell to bell action in an effort to set themselves apart from the national wrestling scene.
Right or wrong, we all know that if we saw a man or woman in a WWE ring who was a great performer in between the ropes but had no ability at all to let us know why we should care about what they were doing, we would not spend any time investing in their career. WWE management has always been aware of this fact, which is why they created their developmental system. Just because the WWE Network exists now and we have the ability to watch NXT on TV doesn't mean that the reason for it existing has changed; if anything the need for it is greater than ever now!
2) If It Exists for the Performer, Eliminating Culture Shock
|Japanese sensation Kenta will be afforded the opportunity to learn the WWE way of life on a smaller scale|
WWE isn't just a different world in terms of nerves for some performers, but also an entirely different culture with entirely different expectations. Performers who made their names in countries like Japan and Mexico have said in interviews that wrestling for WWE is entirely different from working in their home country. Some performers have to learn a new language, while others have to get used to working with a different size ring and tighter ropes. The latter may not seem like a big deal, but the truth is it's a huge one!
From day one in their training, a wrestler is taught how to move around in the ring to perform their moves. Knowing the size of the ring and what the ropes do to your body when you utilize them in your repertoire makes or breaks your success. If you don't believe me, just think about how the original Sin Cara a.k.a. Mistico is no longer with WWE. The guy is a phenomenal talent, but he was simply incapable of adapting to the WWE style of wrestling. Now, thanks to NXT, guys like Kenta and Prince Devitt should at the very least no longer have the ring issue. If they continue to struggle with learning English, mouthpieces can be given to them to help them succeed.
3) If Needed, Establishing Their New Identity
|Sami Zayn is the perfect example of a guy making the most out of his new WWE identity|
While changing the names of established independent scene performers is an unnecessary annoyance in most cases for all of us, it's not going to change the fact that WWE wants to own the names of their performers so that they can market them exclusively.
I'll admit that this probably has a lot to do with the recent crop of performers WWE has most recently signed these past several years, rather than just being a black-and-white fact. But more often than not, a new name has benefited the talent. Cesaro is a better name than Claudio Castagnoli. Daniel Bryan is a better name than Bryan Danielson. Dean Ambrose is a better name than Jon Moxley, just to name a few. Since these performers are tasked with establishing completely new identities, they have to find everything that goes along with said identity along the way.
In some cases, a wrestler could even be on the main roster without fully having found his/her "it factor". Just look at the journey for Daniel Bryan. NXT, however, is meant to make this a non-issue, and in the case of guys like the other two I just mentioned, it definitely has helped. Trying to find yourself should not be done with the whole world looking upon you. You should be allowed to do so without a lot of fear and trepidation and that's what NXT gives these performers.
I hope I was able to give you all something to think about here today and put NXT in a better light for all of you. I'll drop more "smark knowledge" on you next time. Be sure to leave me your thoughts and feedback via our comments section!