NXT (is not) Overrated


I have another tentative plan for this blog. In this tentative plan, I take a discussion point that I have heard or read online and debate against that point. It does not have to be an overarching talking point. In fact most times, it is just going to be something I read or heard a few people say. Sometimes it will be what one person says, but it will be a person who I respect (but simply disagree with).

Today’s Topic: NXT is Overrated:

Problem#1: People can’t be wrong for liking (or disliking) something

This may be an argument of semantics, but I do believe in many cases (not all) that words matter. I have heard people (including Dave Meltzer and Bruce Mitchell) say that NXT is “overrated.” The terminology is wrong because if someone enjoys something in entertainment, then it’s good because entertainment is subjective. What people who say that NXT is overrated are saying is that people are wrong for enjoying the show. It’s okay if there isn’t a great match on every show or even most of the shows if people enjoy the shows.

If people like NXT for whatever reason, then that is a good thing. I will admit that I am a huge fan of NXT (which is why I am writing this article). I don’t think I am wrong for enjoying the show. It doesn’t seem like people realize this, but in entertainment what’s good and what’s bad is up to the person watching. Meltzer, Mitchell and anyone else who thinks that NXT is overrated are imposing their beliefs on others in terms of what makes a good wrestling show. I think the best way to put it is that we should not need permission to like NXT.

What someone who doesn’t understand the volume of praise that NXT gets could say is “I am glad that people like it, but it’s missing things that I value from a wrestling show” (it could be said better, but I made my point). A person can say that NXT is not as good as Lucha Underground from his or her perspective for whatever reason, but the idea that NXT is overrated is wrong because all people who like NXT are saying…is that they like NXT.

Problem#2: The praise is not overdone.

For the most part, all I read and hear people say about NXT is that they enjoy the show because they like the squash matches, the character development, the good matches (when they happen) and the atmosphere. I’ve never seen someone say that it is the greatest show of all-time or even close to it. I read people say that Raw should be more like NXT in terms of connecting characters to fans (and having squash matches to establish people for that matter). No one is comparing it in terms of quality to Watts’ Mid-South or Crockett’s Saturday Night show or World Class Championship Wrestling at its best. People are saying that “I like this show, why can’t Raw be more like this?” To me, that is a fair thought process to have. Certainly the idea that NXT is the best weekly wrestling show right now is not an outrageous statement.

Problem#3: It is a hot brand.

Despite what I said above about quality being subjective, I do believe that wrestling’s effectiveness is objective. In other words, people can like whatever they want, but the numbers and the crowd reaction speaks to the effectiveness of the promotion. NXT is successful in terms of getting people invested in the characters and the brand as a whole. While for the most part, NXT sellouts are in relatively small arenas, it was also very successful in bigger arenas in Brooklyn last summer and in the U.K a short while ago. The characters are over, the brand is over and there are objective metrics to prove it. There is no bigger evidence that the “NXT is overrated camp” is looking at things the wrong way than the success of the brand.

Problem#4: The criticism is wrong.

If someone wants to say that NXT is overrated, there are two arguments that can be made. The first is that what NXT does is designed for a niche audience and would not work on a grander scale. I agree with that argument. I’m not sure how well NXT would do on a cable network with the format that it has. It would not do as well as Raw or Smackdown, but I don’t see anyone saying that it would. If someone wants to say that NXT would be doing between 1 and 1.5 million viewers if it was on cable television, I would agree with that. At the same time, I don’t see anyone saying that NXT would be getting Raw numbers if it replaced Raw on USA-people are saying that they enjoy the show and the main brand could take things from NXT to incorporate into Raw and Smackdown.

The second legitimate criticism could be that NXT is overrated as a developmental territory. WWE has been ravaged by injuries and they have not gone to NXT to find wrestlers that can help them on the road to Wrestlemania. If NXT is legitimately a developmental territory, one can argue that they should have people ready to come up in times where the roster depth is shallow. There are several counterarguments to that. First and foremost, a wrestler only being called up to fill a gap may suffer in the long-term if the company was not ready to call the person up and only did so because of injuries. Secondly, the main NXT roster (the ones who do house shows outside of Florida) is for all intents and purposes a hybrid. Indeed, it’s developmental and many wrestlers that we see on NXT television now will end up on the main roster, but it has also become a show designed to draw interest in terms of attendance and network subscriptions. Should NXT be its own brand? That is an interesting question, but the fact is that NXT is its own brand. With all of that said, if someone wants to say that NXT is overrated because its purpose has been lost and it is a HHH vanity project, at least it is a better argument than NXT is overrated because people are wrong for liking it. For the last time (in this column)….

(pretend I used exclamation points and all caps)

People can like whatever they want when it comes to entertainment.




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