Pros and Cons of NXT Stars Being Heavily Involved in WWE Survivor Series Build
For the first time ever, this year's WWE Survivor Series pay-per-view will pit Raw, SmackDown and NXT against each other, and so far, the build has benefited from having the black-and-gold brand involved.
As played out as the Raw vs. SmackDown storyline is, NXT brings a fresh feel to it. Never before have fans seen an NXT invasion play out on the main roster, and not only is it finally happening after all these years, it has been beautifully executed so far.
Two weeks remain until the anticipated event, and already the main matches have been set in stone for the card. In addition to the women's and tag team champions from each show colliding in Triple Threats, NXT's finest will face off with Raw and SmackDown Superstars in a three-way traditional tag team elimination match.
While the winning brand won't earn anything but bragging rights, it will be special to see the three brands interacting on as grand of a stage as Survivor Series. The annual event has needed an extra spark for some time now, and NXT could prove to be exactly what was needed.
However, there are drawbacks to the unprecedented angle, especially when it comes to how it will be blown off. Whether NXT will emerge from Survivor Series unscathed remains to be seen, but the weeks preceding the pay-per-view should continue to be exciting, if nothing else.
As Survivor Series quickly approaches, let's look at the pros and cons of NXT having a strong presence at the November classic and how it could pave the way for the brand being a staple at the show every year going forward.
Pro: Fresh Matches Make for Exciting Lineup
It almost feels like WWE wants fans to forget that the Wild Card Rule was a thing for five months before it was done away with in favor of the brand split being brought back.
Viewers are so accustomed to seeing Superstars from SmackDown or Raw wage war that it would have meant nothing for them to go at it alone at Survivor Series this year. Combine that with how there's nothing at stake for either show and it would have been considered a pointless pay-per-view.
Thankfully, the inclusion of NXT has led to a number of fresh matches being booked for the November classic, including Becky Lynch vs. Bayley vs. Shayna Baszler in a Triple Threat. It should be both an excellent match and an effective way of planting the seeds for a future feud between Baszler and Lynch.
The Viking Raiders vs. The New Day vs. Undisputed Era has also been confirmed for the card and is bound to be a barn burner in its own right. It will likely be fans' only chance to see these teams share the ring and potentially steal the show.
Most matches WWE has booked for their pay-per-views this year have been done to death and therefore have hindered fans' anticipation level for the events. That won't be the case with Survivor Series, which will provide multiple first-ever-encounters that weren't expected to come to fruition for a while.
On paper, Survivor Series is a show you can't help but look forward to given everything on tap.
Con: Burning Through Money Matches That Should Be Saved
By the same token, WWE is doing itself a disservice by blowing through money matches that could be saved for when the stars of NXT eventually make it to the main roster.
With plans for the Nov. 1 edition of SmackDown being changed on the fly due to talent having issues returning from Saudi Arabia, WWE went with an NXT Championship main event between Adam Cole and Daniel Bryan for the show. It was an exceptional encounter that put Cole over in a major way, but it was also given away on free television with no prior hype.
The same can be said for Raw's main event three days later, which saw Cole battle Seth Rollins for the first time ever. That clash could have meant more had WWE waited to deliver it when Cole inevitably arrives on Raw and not used it as an excuse to do a big brawl between NXT and the Raw roster at the end of the show.
The aforementioned Becky Lynch vs. Bayley vs. Shayna Baszler match isn't an egregious example due to being a Triple Threat. Lynch vs. Baszler, on the other hand, is WrestleMania worthy and shouldn't happen until Baszler is promoted to Raw full-time.
Again, everything slated for Survivor Series is largely fine because of the immense amount of talent involved, but WWE should avoid giving away too many marquee matchups before then. If not, there won't be anything exciting about seeing these stars wrestling on Raw and SmackDown in the future.
Pro: Getting Fans Familiar with NXT Talent
Before NXT invaded SmackDown earlier this month, there's a good chance a majority of the main roster viewers weren't previously familiar with Rhea Ripley, Tegan Nox or Keith Lee.
Sure, Adam Cole and Tommaso Ciampa have been positioned as the faces of NXT for the past two years, and fans in the arena that night may have known who they were, but that's about it. Even with them, they were perceived as the top talent on a developmental brand before picking a fight with the SmackDown Superstars and winning.
That episode of SmackDown did an outstanding job of not only introducing many fresh faces from NXT to the WWE Universe but also establishing them as credible competitors. It was a clean sweep for NXT that evening, and they continued to look dominant on the subsequent Raw.
NXT boasts an absolutely incredible roster, so in addition to the show now airing weekly on USA Network, they're getting extra exposure from being prominently featured on Raw and SmackDown heading into Survivor Series. They're finally being given the opportunity to showcase their skills on a grander stage and are making the most of it.
Far too often do up-and-comers from NXT move up to the main roster and don't elicit a strong reaction from fans in attendance because their reach was limited to solely the black-and-gold brand. The Survivor Series build has (hopefully) changed that for the better, meaning these stars should feel a lot more special when they hit Raw and SmackDown permanently one day.
Con: What If NXT Is Ultimately Made to Look Inferior?
By and large, WWE has handled NXT exceptionally well up to this point. Their SmackDown invasion on Nov. 1 kicked off the Survivor Series build with a bang, and the follow-up on Raw also saw the stars from NXT emerge looking strong.
In the end, however, it's unlikely WWE will give NXT the definitive win over the main roster at Survivor Series the same way Raw swept SmackDown at last year's installment.
While still technically a developmental territory for WWE, NXT has become far more than that in recent years and especially since premiering on USA Network. The tremendous TakeOver specials have almost always been better than the pay-per-views WWE produces those same weekends, not to mention that there are more characters worth caring about and investing in on their roster.
That isn't to say it's imperative NXT goes over in dominant fashion at Survivor Series, but they must win at least a few matches at the event to avoid looking like the superior brand. WWE is notorious for spotlighting their biggest brands at the expense of everybody else, but NXT must be the exception.
Undisputed Era were run off last week on Raw by Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins and other undercard competitors, which was difficult to take seriously. If WWE intends on making NXT a permanent part of Survivor Series going forward, their stars need to be protected at all costs.
Pro: Raw, SmackDown and NXT Are Must-See TV
Aside from a brief period prior to the 2019 WWE Draft, Raw and SmackDown have largely been lifeless for the better part of the year. Additionally, although NXT has been a blast to watch weekly since going live on USA Network in September, the ratings haven't reflected that for the most part.
Thus, it's no coincidence that ratings for Raw, SmackDown and NXT have improved considerably since the start of Survivor Series season. More importantly, Raw and SmackDown feel more must-see than they have in some time thanks to the recent involvement from NXT.
NXT's invasion on SmackDown earlier this month sent the message that anything can happen on the road to the November classic. The trend continuing on Raw the following Monday led to the show being better than it has in months.
Between the aforementioned fresh matches, unprecedented encounters and effective advancement of the brand supremacy storyline, there's a lot to like about Raw and SmackDown at the moment. Even NXT, which delivers quality programming more often than not, has been more compelling lately due to the main roster stars showing up at Full Sail University.
It's possible Raw and SmackDown will go back to being as dull as they were previously once Survivor Series has come and gone, but NXT's presence on both programs has been a breath of fresh so far. Fans now have an actual incentive to tune in to all three shows and look forward to the excitement in store.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.