This Thursday, May 29th, on the WWE Network, WWE will be airing its second live NXT special, NXT Takeover, at 8:00 p.m. ET with a pre-show starting at 7:30. The advertised card for the show is:
- Adrian Neville (c) vs. Tyson Kidd for the NXT Championship
- Charlotte (w/ her father Ric Flair) vs. Natalya (w/ her uncle Bret Hart) for the vacant NXT Women's Championship
- Sami Zayn vs. Tyler Breeze in a title eliminator to determine who will face the Neville-Kidd winner.
- The Ascension (c) vs. El Local and Kalisto for the NXT Tag Team Championship
- Adam Rose vs. Camacho
As he did before NXT Arrival three months ago, Paul "Triple H" Levesque held a conference call today to discuss NXT, the Performance Center and the WWE developmental system in general in his capacity as WWE's executive vice president, talent, live events & creative. You can hear the whole thing here.
Unlike last time, he didn't open with an overview of the card itself, but the call jumped right into the media questions. During my time on the call, I asked Levesque if this card, with Kidd and Natalya in the top two matches, was indicative of how main roster talent could be used in the future. Levesque said:
I think that when I can use a main roster star that is maybe not involved in something to help the storyline...there are two different components to this. In the case of a Tyson Kidd, a guy that has had some success on the roster, and then he's had some setback on the roster, and then he had an injury, he's still visible because of Total Divas. [...] In coming up with the concept for this, it's like, 'OK, I'd like to give him that opportunity to go out there that, let's face it, right now he's not gonna get on Raw or SmackDown, he's not gonna get 20 minutes to show what he can do, and I can give him that here, and maybe that sparks another level for him.'
Someone like Cesaro, on the other hand, has grown past the point where it doesn't make sense to use him regularly in NXT anymore:
He'll be here, he's here today, I just got done training, he's in the gym. Y'know, he loves it here, and if he could, he'd work every single time we ran here, and I just said, 'Hey, the position you're in now on the main roster, I'm not gonna use you for a while in NXT, and I can't have you in the ring there all the time and I can't be running programs with you there. I want you to succeed on the main roster and keep doing that and moving up.'
Lately, especially in light of how slowly most WWE crowds are getting into Adam Rose, one of the concerns that's been cropping up online about NXT is how certain characters may play at NXT tapings at Full Sail University compared to large crowds across the country, especially the more comedic characters. When I asked Levesque about this topic, he made it clear that he does't see it as an issue.
So there's two sides to the coin: I'm trying to determine what will work on the main roster; I'm also trying to determine what works down here because I've got to keep people coming back here. NXT has to succeed on its own in order to be able to work to get people up to the roster. I've got to serve a couple of masters on this, so it's riding the line and finding what works. [...] There are some times where we say, 'You know what? I'm not sure this is gonna work, but let's try it. Let's see where it goes.'
He went on to explain that it's also a matter of increasing the amount of variety on Raw:
Not everybody's gonna come in and be the Wyatts and be scary. And not everybody's gonna come in like The Shield and be destructive. And not everybody's gonna come in and be Rusev. You've gotta have fun, you've gotta have exciting, you've gotta have a gamut of all of these different characters and personalities. Are they all gonna work? Absolutely not. If they did, holy cow, I have a crystal ball or a fortune teller that's giving me some good insight. It's all guts and feel and you're trying to see what works and what doesn't.