It's been reported that WWE is seeking partners to nationally broadcast its developmental product, NXT, to U.S. television audiences. The product would be used as a "transitional" program that moves up-and-coming wrestlers into the WWE Universe's consciousness before ultimately arriving on either Raw or SmackDown.
The program could potentially earn WWE approximately $100,000 a year in rights fees for a weekly one-hour show.
Michael Bluth of Rajah.com (h/t f4wonline.com) reports on the potential project in his article "WWE Planning To Bring NXT Back To US Television This Fall."
In the last two years, Triple H has axed the brand Florida Championship Wrestling, replaced it with NXT and moved the filming of the company's shows to Full Sail University. The shows are broadcast locally and on Hulu Plus. He recently announced plans to build a state-of-the-art training facility in Orlando which will include space for filming the shows.
In the Rajah.com story, it references the WWE's intentions on treating the show as they did the new ECW program that aired on SyFy years ago. I don't know if this is speculation or a reference made by the reporter's source, but this would be a terrible move by the company from a creative perspective.
The general anonymity of the NXT shows is a strength, not a weakness. Rather than looking to cash in on the product, they should savor the chance to utilize greater creative opportunities.
For example, on Friday night, we witnessed The Shield decimate Undertaker. These three men, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, debuted in November when they attacked Ryback in the main event of Survivor Series. They've been unstoppable since, even winning their WrestleMania debut in the show's opening match.
The Shield would not have been possible if NXT broadcast weekly. Ambrose was a lone wolf. Rollins was a spunky babyface. Reigns was an up-and-coming, green powerhouse learning the ropes. The impact they made at Survivor Series resonated so strongly because 98 percent of the viewing audience was clueless as to who any of them were.
Wrestling nerds such as myself—and likely many who read Bleacher Report—were somewhat familiar with at least Ambrose and Rollins. Both were big names on the independent scene for years. Reigns was a WWE project and relatively unknown beyond a few matches sprinkled throughout YouTube where he worked as Leakee.
If these three totally different characters had been working against one another on a weekly television broadcast, as they had been in NXT prior to their debut, the attack wouldn't have made sense. It would have confused audiences more rather than leaving them wanting more.
The anonymity of NXT allows young, less-xperienced talents try new characters and tactics. The evolution of Wyndham Rotundo is an ideal example. At probably too young an age and experience level, he debuted on the first season of NXT as Husky Harris. He was green and generally without a character. After being written off the Nexus storyline, he went back to developmental.
While in Florida, he developed a Steve Austin-type character that opened as a heel and developed into a hell-raising redneck. Soon, though, he disappeared briefly and resurfaced as a completely different person. Now he's Bray Wyatt, leader of the Wyatt family. He's a charismatic southern preacher with evil in his heart. This transition wouldn't have been able to take place on a weekly show.
WWE already has three weekly prime-time shows in the U.S.: Raw (Monday), Main Event (Wednesday), SmackDown (Friday). Saturday Morning Slam is generally ignored by the general audience, but serves to introduce the company to children. SuperStars is taped and broadcast internationally.
The company should put greater emphasis in making their current shows must-see, which will increase ratings and rights fees contracts, rather than damage the value of NXT as a place for talent development.