The feud between WWE Raw and SmackDown is manufactured for the sake of entertainment, but there is real competition between NXT and the main roster, especially during weekends when the company holds a pay-per-view and a TakeOver special.
SummerSlam airs on August 19, but the festivities will kick off the night before, when the developmental system puts on TakeOver: Brooklyn 4.
Whenever this happens, the WWE Universe likes to compare the shows. It might sound strange to the casual fan, but NXT usually ends up putting on the better spectacle.
There are a number of reasons why a TakeOver would get better reviews than a PPV, but the main roster is still capable of proving why its Superstars make the big bucks.
Before we can compare the events, we have to know what the lineup is going to be. Here is a rundown of NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4, according to WWE.com:
- EC3 vs. Velveteen Dream
- Adam Cole vs. Ricochet (NXT North American Championship)
- Undisputed Era vs. Moustache Mountain (NXT Tag Team Championships)
- Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane (NXT Women's Championship)
- Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano (Last Man Standing, NXT Championship)
And here is the card for SummerSlam 2018, according to WWE.com:
- The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan
- Baron Corbin vs. Finn Balor
- Rusev and Lana vs. Andrade "Cien" Almas and Zelina Vega
- The Bludgeon Brothers vs. The New Day (SmackDown Tag Team Championships)
- Cedric Alexander vs. Drew Gulak (Cruiserweight Championship)
- Dolph Ziggler (With Drew McIntyre) vs. Seth Rollins (Intercontinental Championship)
- Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jeff Hardy (United States Championship)
- Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens (Money in the Bank contract is on the line)
- Carmella vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair (SmackDown Women's Championship)
- Alexa Bliss vs. Ronda Rousey (Raw Women's Championship)
- AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe (WWE Championship)
- Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (Universal Championship)
The main-roster show has a whopping 12 matches to the developmental system's five, and SummerSlam may end up with one or two additions before the event kicks off.
The Raw tag titles might end up being defended, and Bobby Lashley's feud with Elias could earn them a spot on the card. It also wouldn't be surprising to see Bayley and Sasha Banks end up working the show.
Advantages for Raw and SmackDown
Bigger is Better
One of the main differences between TakeOver and SummerSlam is the length of the shows. NXT specials typically clock in at just over three hours with a 30-minute pre-show, but one of the Big Four PPVs such as SummerSlam can run over seven hours when you include the two-hour Kickoff.
Seven hours is a lot of wrestling to sit through, but for hardcore fans, it's one of the best days of the year because they get to see just about every big star on the roster compete at the same event.
Most of the B-level PPVs have to skip over some storylines to save time, but SummerSlam gives management enough time to ensure everyone who deserves a spot gets one.
The Biggest Stars Under 1 Roof
NXT has some of the best talents in the wrestling business set to compete Saturday, but it can't compare to the level of star-power SummerSlam is going to feature.
Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey will bring the mainstream media attention WWE craves. ESPN, Fox Sports and programs such as Good Morning America will be talking about SummerSlam on Monday morning because of the former UFC champions.
Then you have the rest of the roster. Roman Reigns, AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, The Miz, Kevin Owens and Jeff Hardy are just a few of the future Hall of Famers who will be competing. Their presence should be enough to get any fan excited for SummerSlam.
The Dream Matches
The SummerSlam card looks good, but a few bouts stand out as the most anticipated for different reasons.
Bryan and The Miz began building toward their grudge match before The Yes Man was cleared to compete again in March, so there has been almost two years of buildup behind this feud. They have fought each other before, but they upped the intensity during their exchanges on Talking Smack.
The WWE Championship match between Styles and Samoa Joe is a contest many never expected to see in a WWE ring, let alone for the most important title in the company.
They have been enemies and allies at different points over the past 15 years, but they have never fought on a stage as big as SummerSlam. Having two matches of this caliber on the same show is sure to leave an impression on the WWE Universe.
Advantages for NXT
Is Bigger Really Better?
TakeOver specials regularly run two-and-a-half hours, so they almost never feature more than five matches. For some fans, this is the perfect amount of wrestling.
With approximately 30 minutes for each bout, the men and women of the developmental system always have what they need to tell a good story in the ring.
Even with a significant amount of extra time, the main roster will likely have a couple of short matches at SummerSlam to make sure everything can fit on the show.
Sitting through seven straight hours of WWE programming on a Sunday night is too much for some people, so a TakeOver special can leave a better impression by not overstaying its welcome.
The Stars of Tomorrow
Main-roster PPVs can start to feel repetitive because we end up seeing the same group of people cycling in and out of different feuds for years at a time. NXT doesn't have this problem thanks to a constantly changing roster.
Whenever someone gets called up to Raw or SmackDown, someone else in the developmental system gets to take their spot in storylines. It has even become a tradition for Superstars who are being called up to pass on their lockers at the Performance Center to rookies.
Billie Kay and Peyton Royce posted tweets on April 12 showing how they had passed on their lockers to Dakota Kai and Candice LeRae, respectively. You can see in the pictures that Kay got her locker from Charlotte Flair and that Royce took over Bayley's.
Peyton Royce @PeytonRoyceWWE
It was so special for me when @itsBayleyWWE left her @WWENXT locker to me. Now its special to me again to be able to pass our locker on to @CandiceLeRae who will put her boots on each morning in the same spot.I can’t wait to see all the big things Candice does with her career❤️ https://t.co/iGBV5fbsTd
It's a lot of fun to watch someone go from being a newbie in NXT to one of its top stars, and it helps give us an idea of which Superstars to keep an eye on in the future.
Velveteen Dream is a great example of a journey we have been able to follow for the past couple of years. He started as a cocky, unlikable upstart on Tough Enough, but he has grown into one of the most intriguing and entertaining wrestlers in the company. You only get to see that kind of progress in NXT.
Hungry Stars Lead to Better Matches
Everyone in NXT is working toward making it to Raw or SmackDown, so naturally they are going to feel like they have to try harder than anyone else so they can stand out.
It's not like you get to rest on your laurels as soon as you get called up, but there is a different mentality when you are trying to get something than there is when you are trying to keep something.
Superstars in NXT may be inclined to take a few more risks to make their matches more memorable, while someone on the main roster will be more focused on longevity.
Some sports fans say college athletes are more exciting to watch because they are hungrier for success, and the same logic can be applied to men and women in the WWE developmental system.
TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 will mark the 22nd live special for the NXT brand since Arrival in 2014. Can you think of a single match from any of those shows that can be classified as bad? Probably not.
Some of the best performances of the past few years happened at NXT specials. Mick Foley called Bayley vs. Banks at the first TakeOver in Brooklyn his match of the year on Facebook. And nobody will ever forget the battle between Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura in Dallas in 2016.
Comparing the Top Storylines
The main roster has two feuds going on for the WWE and Universal Championships, but the storyline surrounding the NXT title blows them out of the water.
Styles and Joe have a storied history together, but their rivalry in WWE only began earlier this summer. For young fans, they are a new feud.
As far as the ongoing war between Reigns and Lesnar is concerned, most of the WWE Universe has grown tired of seeing the same match over and over and are looking forward in the hope that SummerSlam sees their final showdown.
Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano, on the other hand, have been embroiled in the most personal battle we have seen in the developmental system for more than a year. And now they have a belt to fight over.
Every time these two step inside the ring together, the fans in attendance get to witness magic. They never let us down and always leave us wanting more. Those are the hallmarks of a rivalry we will one day look back on as legendary.
The unfortunate timing of Aleister Black's injury forced management to change this from a Triple Threat to a singles match, but the Last Man Standing stipulation should lead to another violent clash between the former members of DIY.
Prediction: TakeOver Wins the Weekend
SummerSlam, like any big event, has the potential to be an amazing PPV, but TakeOver will be the more enjoyable of the two shows.
Between the repetitiveness of some of the matches and the overall length of SummerSlam, some fans may end up tuning out before it's over.
SummerSlam's average from 13 matches was a C+. TakeOver averaged an A- across its five bouts. SummerSlam had four Ds, while NXT didn't receive anything lower than a B.
Saturday's event will showcase a fresh set of matches, with 12 Superstars looking to make their mark on the wrestling industry. SummerSlam, on the other hand, attempts to give at least 30 people their fair share of the spotlight the next night.
Everyone is going to have their opinion, but don't be surprised if you see social media flooded with messages that NXT has outshone the main roster once again on Monday morning.
What do you think? Will TakeOver be better than SummerSlam, or will the main roster put the developmental system in its place?