There is a “WWE style” and an “indy style.”
This separation of the two is relevant, especially for WWE right now. The NXT Performance Center is a world-class facility, and the relationship with Full Sail University is a great opportunity for students. As a brand, NXT is entertaining to watch.
There have been weeks where NXT programming is the best WWE is offering from start to finish.
NXT is basically an independent wrestling show with a six-figure budget. It's got a wide range of characters and skill levels, just as you would commonly find on a typical independent wrestling show. It also has the intimacy of an indy show, possessing a small crowd and many repeat customers.
A certain energy comes with this setting, a familiarity between audience and performer. This is great for the NXT brand. However, it's a reasonable concern for some characters.
What works in NXT won't always work in WWE. The best example of this is Adam Rose.
The intimate, familiar NXT setting features a few hundred fans who love to become Rosebuds when he comes out. When he walks into 10,000-person arenas, there are more crickets than roses.
The younger audience doesn't even know what the Exotic Express is meant to symbolize. The older crowd seems split in caring.
Many of the fans at NXT are the most loyal of fans. They're like the fans of a baseball franchise who travel to watch the organization's minor league team in order to see the prospects. The NXT fans are some of the easiest fans to get over with, relatively speaking. They will ride the talent hard if they mess up, but they will pop just as easily.
I think Tyson Kidd is another example. We found this out in reverse order. For years on the main roster, he just didn't connect. A lot of it was bad decision-making by WWE, but the fact still remains. In NXT, everyone can sit close and engage with Kidd in his matches, which are nothing short of beautiful art from bell to bell.
I enjoy the work of Mojo Rawley. He clearly shows a solid work ethic and respect for wrestling. The former Maryland Terp was a football player before finding his way to NXT. The good news is that it doesn't seem he takes the business or opportunity for granted.
All of this being said, it's easy for the intimate, repeat-business crowd of NXT to follow the “Get Hyped, Stay Hyped” slogan. I wonder if the larger, diverse audiences of Raw or SmackDown will share the same enthusiasm.
Time will tell with guys like Rawley and Rose (assuming improvements are made to the latter's character). The good news is we have viable talent and characters to debate if they will work out.
I would love to see WWE do an episode of Raw at Full Sail University every now and again. It would bring back the intimate feeling of energy the original Raw episodes had at the Manhattan Center.
The NXT intimacy and characters make it a very enjoyable program. Also, Kevin Dunn doesn't have his hand in it. That's gotta count for something as well.
Justin LaBar is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the creator of the "Chair Shot Reality" video talk show and "Wrestling Reality" radio show.
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