The future WWE talent marching toward the spotlight will be waving a variety of flags.
The diversity of NXT, WWE's developmental system, sets up the company for a future where it can better market to Europe, Australia and beyond. A number of international fans will see their countrymen and women onscreen, elevating interest in the product.
Count global expansion as one of WWE's biggest accomplishments. In the '50s, the company began as a regional territory in the Northeast. There were no tours to Saudi Arabia or live events in Mexico City as there are today.
That was the way of the wrestling world back then. Promotions didn't often stretch across numerous states, much less time zones.
WWE has since become a different species entirely.
Fans tune in to Raw and SmackDown from South Korea, Jordan, Chile and a long list of other countries. WWE, of course, doesn't have to feature Superstars from all those places to attract an audience, but it's natural for fans to root for their own.
Despite being a villain, Englishman Bad News Barrett always receives a hearty welcome when WWE travels to the U.K.
WWE can expect similar reactions when it heads to other parts of the globe. Its roster is becoming increasingly international, especially with the latest call-ups from NXT.
Paige, from Norwich, England, won the Divas title in her first appearance on the main roster. She joins a division that had recently added Australian talent Emma. The year has also seen Alexander Rusev (now just Rusev) from Bulgaria and Adam Rose of South Africa step onto WWE's bigger stages.
Rusev and company have just made their way from the evolving and improving WWE developmental system, one that boasts a number of prospects from outside of the U.S.:
- Adrian Neville-England
- Sami Zayn-Canada
- Sylvester Lefort-France
- Buddy Murphy-Australia
- Pierre Marceau-France
- Stuart Tomlinson-England
- Becky Lynch-Ireland
- Yoshi Tatsu-Japan
- Tye Dillinger-Canada
While that list is certainly European-heavy, WWE developmental has some ways to attract other demographics.
The masked Kalisto (formerly Samuray Del Sol) has lived and wrestled in Mexico. As a Mexican-American who brings the Lucha Libre style to WWE, he can have tremendous value in attracting Latinos, much the way Rey Mysterio has done before him.
Zayn, who once played a mock luchador who spoke broken Spanish, is a Montreal native and of Syrian descent. As a fluent Arabic speaker, he can provide a bridge to a growing market in the Middle East.
It's the European market, though, that WWE will tap into the most in the near future.
Neville, the current NXT champ, hails from Newcastle, England. His "Geordie" accent is not what fans are used to hearing from WWE's titleholders.
That's going to have to change because Neville is destined to acquire gold once he reaches the main roster. His otherworldly athleticism will see to that.
Even before Neville gets called up, or Tomlinson, a former goalkeeper, and Lynch advance from NXT, there is already a heavy European tint on the company's list of champions.
Irishman Sheamus just won the United States title, Barrett seized the Intercontinental Championship at Extreme Rules. and Paige is now the Divas champ. That trio will be mighty popular as WWE embarks on its European tour, which begins in Glasgow, Scotland, on May 14.
NXT's international flair will allow WWE to highlight its Canadian, Australian and European stars when traveling to those countries in the future. Having folks on TV from those places will surely entice more fans to tune in.
The company's constant search for the next batch of Superstars has led to continual scouring of the globe.
PWInsider's Dave Scherer recently reported that William Regal was recruiting in Brazil, eyeing prospects in both the Federacao Internacional de Luta Livre and Brazil Wrestling Federation.
It was Regal who first brought Irish star Prince Devitt to WWE's attention, per PWInsider (h/t Wrestle Zone). According to F4WOnline, via Wrestle Zone, Devitt "still has a standing offer" from the sports entertainment giant.
He could be joined in NXT by KENTA, a Japanese star famous for kicking foes in the head. The above report says that the Pro Wrestling Noah standout "is indeed heading to WWE."
His reported arrival would only add to the international presence at NXT. WWE has struggled to turn Japanese wrestlers into stars, but it appears the company is willing to try again.
Should officials succeed with KENTA where they failed with Ultimo Dragon, WWE's tours in Japan will have the attraction of a star who built his career in that country.
WWE, which already has wrestlers from Ghana, Switzerland and India, is adding to the list of countries whose fans will have warriors of their own to root for. That can only be good news for WWE's bottom line.
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