WWE Would Be Making a Huge Mistake Moving NXT from the Network to Cable

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2019

Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole at NXT TakeOver: Toronto.
Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole at NXT TakeOver: Toronto.Credit: WWE.com

SmackDown is scheduled to debut on Fox on October 4, but a different story has been making the rounds lately about another possible move for a WWE show.

According to Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer, NXT is set to move to USA Network on September 18 with a two-hour format, putting it head-to-head with All Elite Wrestling's weekly TV show, which starts two weeks later on Oct. 2. 

This story has gained a lot of traction, and multiple people in the industry have reacted to the rumor:

The Young Bucks® @NickJacksonYB

We aren’t scared. https://t.co/7mMS8zC1KQ

Ryan Satin @ryansatin

Working to find out what happened with the NXT to USA announcement. My hunch is that they felt like tonight's show was already packed enough and didn't need it, and/or they decided to give the story to a big publication.

WrestlingINC.com @WrestlingInc

Chris Jericho reacts to NXT heading to the USA Network to become a live, two-hour show on Wednesdays. https://t.co/hVnDXu20k3 https://t.co/Eq2xy4Muzh

The announcement was expected to come on Monday's Raw, but WWE never mentioned it once. Other than a brief commercial for NXT on WWE Network and a cameo from The Street Profits, the yellow brand was absent from the show.

Meltzer posted the following tweet to back up his original report: 

Dave Meltzer @davemeltzerWON

Levesque told the NXT talent this on Thursday. It's coming soon enough. Stock market price already reflects the story. https://t.co/YmARQZQ3UJ

Even if the announcement happens later and this is all true, this could be a huge mistake on WWE's part. The urge to compete with AEW should not overrule what is best for the brand and the Superstars on the NXT roster.

Let's look at a few reasons why the developmental brand should remain on WWE Network.

(Update: WWE.com officially announced NXT will be moving to USA after this article was originally published.) 


Influence From Network Executives

While WWE controls its content, USA Network executives have more say in what happens on their television channel than some people may realize.

If ratings falter, the network can step in and ask WWE to do certain things to correct its course, or in some cases, execs might ask the company to change something to make it more appealing to a mainstream audience.

NXT is Triple H's baby. Vince McMahon still controls WWE, but he has allowed The Game to oversee the developmental system for several years, and many fans feel he has done a great job.

If NXT moves to USA, Triple H and the team of writers working on the show will no longer be the only people with a major say in what happens. In fact, it might lead to McMahon getting more involved with the brand since ratings will actually matter.

NXT is special because it exists outside of the cable television system. WWE can do whatever it wants on its own streaming service, which includes experimenting with ideas it might want to use on the main roster. Once the yellow brand moves to USA, it essentially becomes part of the main roster, which is a completely different issue.


Too Much Pressure on Developmental Talents

The whole point of NXT is to serve as a training ground for talents WWE might want to use on Raw and SmackDown in the future. The Performance Center is where they learn the basics and NXT is where they put everything together.

Wrestlers such as Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Shinsuke Nakamura and Sami Zayn were already veterans and only worked in the developmental system to get acclimated to the WWE style of doing things.

Other talents like Bianca Belair, Kacy Catanzaro and Velveteen Dream are still in the early phase of their careers, and NXT is supposed to be the place where they get to improve and learn before going to the big leagues.

WWE may come up with a new developmental show to replace the yellow brand, but if some of these rookies are expected to carry a weekly program on a major network, they won't be given the proper room to grow.


Too Much Content for Casual Fans

If NXT moves to a two-hour format, WWE will be airing seven hours of television every week in addition to all of the content being made exclusively for WWE Network, such as 205 Live.

Even for hardcore fans, this may be too much. Asking casual fans to devote an additional two hours of their time every week might turn some people off altogether.

Raw going to three hours in 2012 had a negative impact on the show, and it has struggled to find a way to keep fans interested throughout the entire broadcast.

Imagine how hard it would be with another brand to worry about.


Losing What Makes NXT Special

The yellow brand is different from Raw and SmackDown in many ways, and that is the best part about it for some fans.

The shows are held in a small studio at Full Sail University instead of a different arena each week. This gives each episode a more intimate feel than the main roster programs.

NXT almost feels like an indie promotion, especially when you look at the style of wrestling at TakeOver events compared to WWE pay-per-views.

Every TakeOver event has been phenomenal because the men and women of the developmental brand hold nothing back. If they are working a tougher schedule with a two-hour weekly TV show, everything is going to change.

The expanded time would also lead to more talents being overexposed. As stated earlier, network execs are going to want the biggest stars in NXT to appear as often as possible to keep viewers tuning in.

The current format does not rely on ratings because WWE is more concerned about the overall subscriber count for WWE Network than about how many people watch each episode of NXT.

Superstars often go weeks at a time without making an appearance because there is only one hour of time every week, so we never have a chance to get tired of anyone.


Logistical Issues 

Let's say NXT continues to be filmed at Full Sail instead of taking place in a different city each week. How does this affect talent schedules if the show is expected to air live on Wednesdays?

The way WWE does things now is more akin to the way things used to be. A few episodes are filmed at a time and aired over the course of three or four weeks. This way, NXT Superstars only have to film once or twice each month.

This allows WWE to do live event tours with the roster and its stars get more time to work on their craft at the Performance Center.

The NXT fanbase is as dedicated as they come, so filling the studio every week wouldn't be difficult. But if WWE plans on having the roster tour for the new weekly show, it might have trouble filling a bigger arena every week with talent most casual fans don't recognize.

WWE has enough to worry about without changing the way its developmental system works just to compete with AEW. 

What do you think? Should NXT compete with AEW by going to two hours on USA Network?