One year ago, Vince McMahon announced the arrival of a brand-new WWE television program: WWE NXT.
Called the next evolution of both WWE and TV history by the Chairman himself, the show was to replace WWE ECW on Tuesday nights.
As a supposed hybrid of wrestling and reality TV, NXT was met with high expectations from both management and the WWE Universe before the first episode even aired.
The concept of NXT was simple; a group of wrestlers from Florida Championship Wrestling (WWE's developmental promotion) are called up to be NXT rookies.
These rookies would all compete against each other in a series of matches and challenges for a period of weeks in an attempt to become the "WWE's next breakout star."
Each rookie would be paired with an already-established WWE Superstar, who is known as an NXT pro. These pro's would not only serve as mentors to their rookies, but also judge the rookies based on their performance.
Every few weeks, the NXT rookie with the lowest ranking would be eliminated from the competition, until only one remained.
That rookie would be declared the winner of their season, and they would not only earn a WWE contract for whatever brand they wanted to appear on, but a future title shot of their choosing as well.
That, of course, is the kayfabe version.
The real point of the show is for WWE management to sort out which FCW talent were ready to make it to the main roster and who needed more training.
Instead of the old school route of simply calling up a developmental wrestler to Raw or SmackDown, NXT is sort of like a three-month trial period that tests how well a rookie could handle being in front of the WWE Universe, and whether the fans would accept them.
WWE NXT is currently nearing the end its fourth (and possibly last) season, so I feel like it's safe to judge whether the show has accomplished what it initially set out to do.
In my opinion, the show started off a success, but quickly became a failure.
Most of NXT's success came from Season One (aka NXT 1). That season is not only responsible for launching the careers of Wade Barrett and Daniel Bryan, but inadvertently creating the stable known as the Nexus as well.
Since the end of Season 1, Daniel Bryan is the current United States Champion, and Wade Barrett has been a top contender for the World Championships. David Otunga, Justin Gabriel, and Heath Slater have also all been former WWE Tag Team Champions.
What started off as the Nexus eventually split into two separate factions: The Corre on SmackDown, and the New Nexus on Raw. The Corre is led by Wade Barrett, who is currently contending for the World Heavyweight Championship, while the New Nexus follows CM Punk, who is currently contending for the WWE Championship.
Daniel Bryan beat The Miz for the United States Championship back in September 2010, and has become successful enough in the eyes of the WWE to become a Pro on Season 4; he is currently mentoring Derrick Bateman.
As I stated earlier, most of NXT's success came from its debut season. I say this because the second season onwards has been, for the most part, a failure.
Season 2 (aka NXT 2) itself was almost as successful its predecessor, and remains my personal favorite season to this day because it featured my favorite former Rookie, Alex Riley.
Not only did it introduce online voting by the fans, but the fans came into the show knowing what to expect. While Season 1 had a rocky start because WWE was testing out new things, by Season 2 the show had become much more organized.
Like it's predecessor, Season 2 featured the heel rookie with the full package (Wade Barrett / Alex Riley), the babyface rookie who was an indy fan favorite (Daniel Bryan / Kaval), the rookie who had a problem with everyone (Michael Tarver / Husky Harris), and the talented rookie that couldn't cut a promo (Justin Gabriel / Michael McGillicutty).
But the problem for Season 2 was that the previous season had featured the cream of the crop from FCW, and all eight of Rookies were deemed talented enough by WWE management to make it to the main roster.
To this day, all eight former Season 1 Rookies are on one of the main brands in some form or fashion.
This left NXT 2 with not only a cast of "leftovers," but far fewer main roster spots to fill once the season was over.
The actual winner of Season 2, Kaval, was treated like a jobber on SmackDown. He lost his title shot for the Intercontinental Championship against Dolph Ziggler, and was released from the company a few months ago.
Husky Harris and Michael McGillicutty eventually joined Nexus, but have never amounted to anything other than background characters that attack a superstar in the ring whenever their leader orders them to. Harris was also sent back to FCW this past week.
Alex Riley has experienced the most success since his run on NXT 2, but even that is an overstatement. He is currently being used as the sidekick of current WWE Champion The Miz, and while he gets plenty of airtime, his actual wrestling role is limited.
When he does occasionally wrestle a match, he's usually losing to an opponent The Miz himself doesn't want to face.
In other words, only half of the NXT 2 cast made it to the main roster, and none of them are half as successful as the eight that came from NXT 1.
NXT 3 was the season when both the fans and WWE management stopped taking the show seriously, but it was such an trainwreck to watch, that I myself couldn't help but enjoy it.
As an all-Divas season that rarely focused on actual matches but more on ridiculous challenges, NXT 3 was like a bad comedy that produced so many facepalm moments that even Captain Picard would get up and walk away.
But nevertheless, I did enjoy the marriage storyline between Goldust and Aksana, partially because I'm a fan of Goldust, but mainly because I thought Aksana was hot.
The eventual winner turned out to the least talented Rookie on the show, Kaitlyn. Congratulations fans of TNA, the Knockouts division wins again.
As we near the end of Season 4, which has been completely uninteresting, you have to wonder how much longer World Wrestling Entertainment is going to keep WWE NXT around.
After a very successful first season that saw all eight Rookies become WWE Superstars, the show's quality has degraded to the point that it is nothing more than an online joke.
Perhaps the point of NXT was to create the Nexus storylines for Raw and SmackDown. Maybe it was created to fill in ECW's blank slot on SyFy until the blue brand arrived that October, which would explain the transition to WWE.com mid-way through Season 3.
And perhaps, the reason that it's still being kept as an online show is because Tough Enough dosen't return until April.
Whatever the reason, WWE NXT was an initial success, but in the long run, it hasn't stood the test of time.