WWE NXT and Tough Enough are both designed to uncover the next big stars of sports entertainment. But does WWE have room for all this new talent?
NXT is nearing the end of its fifth season, and even some of the winners have struggled to gain a spot on the Raw or SmackDown rosters.
Let’s take a look at the history of NXT:
NXT Season 1
WWE was solidly behind this concept, with a TV spot on Syfy and big-name trainers like CM Punk, Chris Jericho and The Miz.
Wade Barrett won the NXT season and a WWE title shot in a six-way match on pay-per-view. However, everyone else joined the WWE roster as members of the Nexus group last year.
Daniel Bryan was fired for getting too violent in the initial Nexus beatdown, but he got his job back in time to face the other Nexus members in the 14-man main event of SummerSlam.
Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater have held the WWE tag team title three times, and David Otunga has won two tag titles. Michael Tarver and Skip Sheffield have been out for a long time with injuries, but they are still employed.
Poor Darren Young got sent back to NXT for Season 5.
NXT Season 2
Here’s where the logjam begins. Kaval won the season and an Intercontinental title shot, but he was released after a couple of months on the SmackDown roster. He is back to wrestling on the independent scene as Low-Ki.
Alex Riley found a spot as The Miz’ lackey and recently began feuding with him. Michael McGillicutty holds the WWE tag team title with Otunga.
Husky Harris was on the Raw roster for a while, but now he’s back down in Florida waiting for a roster opening with Eli Cottonwood, Lucky Cannon, Percy Watson and Titus “Make It a Win!” O’Neil.
NXT Season 3
The Divas took over for Season 3. A giant woman named Aloisha was dropped just before the season began, and her replacement, Kaitlyn, won the whole thing.
A.J. and Kaitlyn recently teamed up on SmackDown after a long absence from TV. Aksana, Maxine and Naomi are all still employed, but there’s no room for them on Raw or SmackDown.
Only Jamie Keyes is out of the company from the Season 3 contestants.
NXT Season 4
Here's where it starts to get ridiculous as far as having no room for these guys to advance to the big-league rosters. Johnny Curtis won the season, but he has not appeared on TV except for one time on Superstars.
Curtis was supposed to get a tag team title match with his mentor, R-Truth, but it looks like that’s not going to happen.
Brodus Clay made it to the SmackDown roster as Alberto Del Rio’s muscle, but he has disappeared since Del Rio was drafted to Raw.
Derrick Bateman is out with an injury, and Byron Saxton, Conor O’Brian and Jacob Novak came right back for the next season of NXT.
NXT Season 5 – “Redemption”
The subtitle should be “Holding Pattern.” Young recently pointed out how absurd it is for him to be on NXT since he wrestled in the main event of the previous SummerSlam.
Saxton and Novak have been eliminated again. Cannon, O’Neil and O’Brian are still alive.
The funny thing is that the prize is a spot in Season 6 of NXT. Now that’s what I call a holding pattern.
Not only that, but there’s also Tough Enough. The winner of that show (either Andy Leavine or Luke Robinson) is ostensibly going to have a job in WWE, somewhere. Maybe he’ll be on NXT as well.
So what’s the solution? Wouldn’t it be nice for all of these guys and girls to have a place to wrestle (I mean, “sports entertain”)?
It would be great if they had their own little promotion to work in…something like…ECW?
No, they can’t bring those three letters back again. How about changing NXT from a competition show to a C-brand promotion where they all can wrestle every week?
That way, new characters can come in one at a time, instead of six at a time. When spots on Raw and SmackDown open up, the top performers on NXT can fill them.
What do you think of this idea?
@JeffDGorman is the only announcer ever to call play-by-play for one of the Big 3 pro wrestling groups (Ring of Honor) and for a live, global MMA pay-per-view (Moosin: God of Martial Arts). Check out his writing and announcing at http://www.jeffdgorman.com.