What is Next for NXT? - Triple Threat POV | Smark Out Moment

What is Next for NXT? - Triple Threat POV

Posted by Dallas Allsopp Thursday, August 12, 2021

Welcome to another edition of Triple Threat from Smark Out Moment, where three of us get together to discuss three questions based on one big topic going down in the week of professional wrestling.

This week, Dallas Allsopp, Bodeen Green and Matt Morgan discuss the recent NXT releases.

Last week saw a number of NXT releases, with some of the names genuinely coming out of nowhere. What was the reasoning behind this, and just what does the future hold for NXT?

Question 1: Who was the most surprising NXT release from last week?

ALLSOPP: Bronson Reed has to be the most surprising for me. It seemed as though NXT were finally prepared to give him the proverbial ball and run with it, so it was highly surprising to see him released. Reed would be perfect for AEW as a bigger guy that can work, so I do not expect him to be without an employer for long. Mercedes Martinez was also a surprise, but the impact of this was reduced by the fact that she never really achieved much of note during her NXT run.

GREEN: Bronson Reed and Bobby Fish, for me at least, are tied for the most surprising releases. Whilst Fish may have been injured a lot during his time in NXT, he still felt like he had a position on the roster as one of the best workers in the business, whilst being an amazing tag team wrestler along with Kyle O’Reilly. The fact that WWE released Fish just a week after his match against Roderick Strong just feels strange, and honestly, it feels like a waste. Hopefully he returns in the future and this is not the last we see of Fish with The Undisputed Era.

As for Reed, the fact he was released is just downright strange, and a case of the right hand not knowing what the left foot is doing. Reed was only NXT North American Champion a few weeks ago, and he just lost it out of nowhere, only to be released like that. Reed is just 32 and is a safe worker who has plenty of years in him. To push him like that and then just release him is something I have no words for. As for where Reed goes into the future, I have no idea, but personally, I would actually like to see him outside of AEW and maybe join NJPW.

MORGAN: Bronson Reed and Bobby Fish were the releases that surprised me the most. Reed had recently wrestled against Adam Cole, and he wrestled various high-profile matches against Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship. Additionally, since he is a bigger guy who can work, I assumed Reed would be someone that Vince McMahon would love. In terms of Fish, I feel bad because when the split with The Undisputed Era happened, he was injured and not able to participate in that storyline, even though Fish was one of the group’s founding members. I am glad that he was able to come back and be involved with some matches against Roderick Strong. However, I don’t believe that he got a true run as a singles competitor, which is a shame. Especially after all the work he did whilst being a member of The Undisputed Era.

Question 2: Would NXT benefit from reverting to a true developmental brand? Did they overreach in trying to be a true alternative to the main roster with talent such as Finn Balor, Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano?

GREEN: Honestly, no, however I do think that NXT can do a better job in developing newer talent from the Performance Center. I have loved watching the breakout tournament as this has helped create new stars, rather than just bringing in some stars that are already established. Personally, I love seeing guys like Finn Balor, Adam Cole, and Johnny Gargano on the NXT roster, and honestly wish there were more main roster talents on NXT. Whilst I don’t want the same talent or main roster talent stealing television time and opportunities of rising stars, established names can do a great job in elevating NXT and putting over new talent. Gargano is a perfect example of this. He could have easily gone off to the main roster by now, but he has stayed in NXT and helped push several stars.

MORGAN: Having NXT operate like an OVW or FCW would seem like a major step backwards for the brand. NXT has been successfully operating on a similar formula for years, which has allowed them to grow as a brand. NXT has always had established talent like Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, and others. These well seasoned wrestlers were able to wrestle lesser known talents, and in turn helped those talents grow as performers. Having talented individuals like Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano around on NXT can really help the younger wrestlers grow as performers.

In addition to the talent, I biasedly believe that NXT does a wonderful job of producing weekly television and TakeOver events. There’s a big fight feel with TakeOver matches in particular, which I thoroughly enjoy, especially since they are not happening every month or twice a month like main roster pay-per-views. There’s been so much work that has gone into making NXT a notable brand, and a true alternative to Raw and SmackDown over the last seven years, therefore I would hate to see that work go to waste.

ALLSOPP: I have no confidence that NXT can survive as a true developmental brand, as most fans watch the show for names such as Adam Cole, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. Yes, there is real talent from top to bottom, but fans generally won’t watch green and unproven wrestlers unless there is something of real quality on offer. If they want to truly develop the next stage of fully homegrown talent, then NXT needs to be comfortable with the poor television ratings they will receive.

Question 3: Do you think that NXT being consistently beaten in the ratings by AEW has directly resulted in this wave of releases, or is there something larger afoot within NXT?

MORGAN: I don’t believe that NXT’s lack of success against AEW in the ratings was the reason for the recent releases. In general, I don’t believe ratings are the best indicator of one show beating the other like it was 20 years ago. People have many different ways to watch shows now rather than watching it live as it airs. I think the main reason for the recent releases is the fact that the WWE developmental system has had a bottleneck issue of sorts for years. There are so many people who are signed to NXT, more than anyone can keep track of. As much as I hate to say it, I feel like the developmental system became too congested for the WWE to keep track of. This means their recent releases are a case of the company sizing down their developmental roster (even though the developmental roster is still gigantic).

ALLSOPP: I’m yet to fully understand Nick Khan and the way he operates in WWE, but I do believe he is quite the brutal man when it comes to keeping a company in the black. He appears to have no need for sentiment for existing wrestlers, or appreciation for what they may have achieved previously. This reeks of a refresh as a result of the ‘defeat’ to AEW in the Wednesday Night War. Whilst comparing the shows for my Wednesday Night War articles, I lost count of the times AEW comfortably beat NXT. Change was clearly needed, but I didn’t think it needed to be this rapid.

GREEN: Whilst AEW has beaten NXT in the ratings war, I personally don’t think this was NXT’s fault for a number of reasons. These include the fact that NXT is on the WWE Network a day after it airs on television, in addition to the fact that there’s already five hours of Raw and SmackDown, as well as some other factors that have led to declining ratings, whilst AEW have used legends such as Sting to boost their ratings. There are a lot of rumours circulating around that WWE want to change NXT’s production as well as what it wants for talent, but it is strange that WWE would release a bunch of people for budget cuts whilst they are apparently making great profit. I do think change is heading for the black and yellow brand in the future, and NXT may never be the same again.

Those are our thoughts on the issue, but where do you stand?

Let us know your answers to these questions in the comments below!

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Dallas Allsopp is a writer with two main interests, Pokemon and wrestling. He has been writing for a few years for his own personal blogs and is now taking his passion for wrestling and putting it into his writing. You can follow him on Facebook.


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