Among the flurry of news coming out of the official announcement of plans for the WWE Network, the presence of well-loved developmental show NXT on the Network has been a continued talking point.
Now, an official announcement by Triple H on an as-yet-unaired episode of NXT seems to confirm what many have speculated—NXT will indeed have an enlarged presence once the WWE Network is in full swing.
The next few weeks of NXT programming will build to two high-profile matches for a huge debut on the WWE Network; Sami Zayn will face Antonio Cesaro in the follow-up to their highly praised 2-out-of-3 Falls match from last year, and Bo Dallas will defend his NXT Championship against Adrian Neville in a ladder match.
Kick-starting NXT's presence on the WWE Network with two huge matches like this is a clear sign that WWE are intent on building up interest in their developmental promotion, but is that what's best for the function of NXT?
Rebooting NXT as a brand that mimicked the independent scene in a bid to prepare younger wrestlers for the main roster has proved to be a decision that has benefited both the performers and audiences. NXT is some of the best television that the WWE produces on a weekly basis, but part of that is because it exists in its own corner of the WWE Universe.
Increasing the profile of NXT too much could undermine the purpose of the show as a smaller broadcast to prepare talent for Raw and Smackdown—fans on various outlets across the Internet were dismayed that the WWE's bad habit of piped-in crowd noise has seemingly spread to NXT as of this past week.
However, it's also very possible that, with careful execution, an expanded NXT presence could be a huge success. Fans with access to NXT have reacted very favourably to the wide-ranging talent and refreshingly straightforward booking that have made the show such a joy to watch up until this point.
With the occasional "supershow" in lieu of a pay-per-view—which, in reality, looks to be the way that the WWE as a whole is heading with the announcement of the Network—NXT could prove to be a test bed for the very structure of WWE programming as well as individual wrestlers.
NXT—specially once it's airing on the WWE Network—has the potential to reap huge dividends as a space for WWE to try new things within the safety net of it being a developmental tier of their programming. Trying to make NXT a third pillar alongside Raw and Smackdown would be a bad move in light of what they set out to accomplish with it. But using it as a tool to try new things in every aspect of what a wrestling broadcast is would perhaps be a move worthy of the sort of company that the Network suggests the WWE is: resolutely forward-facing.