Develop-Mentally Challenged: Why WWE's Developmental System Is in Need of Reform
This past week, Johnny Curtis won the fourth season of WWE NXT.
However, due to programming being confined to WWE.com, not all of you may know this.
But regardless of whether you saw the finale or not, many of you probably don’t care.
“Why?” I hear you ask.
“Do you care to explain such a sweeping generalization?” The voices in my head inquire.
WWE NXT not only illustrates WWE PG at its worst, but it also emphasizes the severe failures of the WWE’s current developmental system.
Instead of recruiting the best wrestling talents from across globe and having them—get this—wrestle, we have a combination of footballers and actors, as well as underdeveloped wrestlers, competing in obscure and irrelevant challenges.
If you wished to argue that Vince McMahon had lost touch with the wrestling audience, all you have to do is compile a WWE NXT show reel.
I know, this is not entirely fair.
Many spectacular talents have come out of WWE developmental. Aside from the guys who were established before WWE, guys like Wade Barrett show that developmental is not all bad. However, for every Wade Barrett there is a Titus O’Neil or an Eli Cottonwood.
By large, WWE developmental needs reform.
In the past several weeks the dirt sheets have speculated that the heir to the throne is similarly disillusioned with the current developmental system. Keep in mind that these are merely rumors, but it has been reported that Triple H wishes to change the current system into a global scouting system.
You can certainly see the benefits of this and it is something the WWE have already dabbled in.
Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio are two standouts to come from FCW, and these two were established upon their arrival in the WWE. Furthermore, the recent signings of Seth Rollin’s (formerly ROH’s Tyler Black) and Sin Cara (CMLL’s Mistico) suggest WWE is already aware of the pitfalls of their current recruitment system.
However, this point has to be countered.
Not all established wrestlers will be willing to pay their dues in the WWE. Keep in mind that Del Rio was on the verge of quitting before he joined the main roster. Additionally, Kaval, the winner of NXT Season 2, asked for his release because WWE creative had nothing for him at that time.
Leaving the developmental system in its current state may have a substantial impact on the future of the company.
Does the Developmental System Need Reform?
If the feeder system works as it should, in five years time the lower- to mid-card should largely consist of former FCW talent.
This is a potential disaster.
After watching NXT, one of the primary concerns is that so many of these guys look and act the same and merely fit the "cookie-cutter" wrestler description.
The Internet wrestling community already protests that too many guys currently on the roster are effectively the same, devoid of any individuality. Adding to the roster with a lot of the guys from FCW would merely exacerbate this situation.
This is arguably an overly pessimistic view on my behalf.
But compared to 15 years ago, talent is not recruited and developed the same as it was. Chris Jericho often says in interviews that he is the last of a dying breed, a breed of wrestler that plied his trade globally, developing his skill set and persona until the big leagues came calling.
Now we have reality stars cashing in on their 15 minutes of fame (that ended an hour ago), trying to play wrestler.
Time will tell if this is an overly cynical view. One thing is for sure, the WWE will have to be aware of this issue. If they act when it is too late, the future of WWE may potentially be very bleak.
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