Despite its victory over WCW, WWE has indeed failed big time. The waning interest of fans is an attestment to that failure, Fans had slowly but surely getting vexed with the underwhelming product. But, what keeps WWE going is its past days. Whenever the interest wanes to intolerable levels, WWE brings in their big guns like Stone Cold, Rock, Shawn Michaels and others such legends to bring back the audience.
This trick will bore the audience in due time. WWE needs to change their methods. That being said, what we all would love to see WWE do is to drop the PG and get back to more edgier content. And with how things stand now, WWE will not do that. The content may get slightly edgier, but WWE would never dare to drop PG.
So, what other option exists?
NXT has been a paradise for fans who are disappointed with WWE for a long time. The product has revitalized the brand in no small amount and fans who aren’t happy with the product are almost nil (except for Vince maybe). Maybe, WWE can learn a few things here and there from NXT and use it to strengthen the product.
Here are five such things NXT has and WWE lacks, which they can learn from their smaller child.
#5 Three hours is just too much
One of the main drawbacks of Raw is the three hours of programming. A typical Raw has two to three good segments and two to three good matches. This too is on paper. Since the programming is for three hours, sometimes a ten-minute segment gets dragged to thirteen to fifteen minutes. That makes the segment a little wearing on the viewer and the impact of the segment is also lessened due to it.
Even with this, there is just too much air time for WWE to fill. And WWE comes up with some really bad ways to fill it. If in case the show was reduced to two hours, WWE will have five to six impact segments and the rest can be filled in. This also leaves a lot to be told on SmackDown and thus increases the product value. With the brand split coming up, this is going to be even more hard on WWE Creative.
Take NXT, the show is two hours, clean and crisp, straight to the point and above all, not taxing at all. A Raw that is tailored much like NXT will leave more fans happy and WWE will never need to do fillers that irritate people.
#4 You need to give time for a character to grow
The two great revelations of NXT is Sasha Banks and Bayley. What really set them apart from others is their character growth. Both of their characters were crafted over more than a year in a slow methodical manner. And now WWE is reaping the rewards for it.
Both Bayley and Sasha has been off-air for a while, but their popularity has not waned an inch. In fact, fans are eager to have them back. That is what a character that is built over time can accomplish. Much like them, Zayn, Neville, Balor, Enzo have built their characters over time in NXT and the result is their unwavering popularity.
But WWE has been trying to cut straight through the journey and serve people with results in the main roster. Roman Reigns is a Superstar who suffered because of that. He was grooming his character in mid-card and suddenly out of nowhere, WWE pushes him to the main event. The result, as we can all see with our own eyes, is disastrous for both WWE and Roman.
If Roman had spent more time in midcard and earned the fans’ recognition, fans might have gravitated towards him and supported him when the push came. In my estimate, Roman’s push to the main event is six months early and that is what hurt Roman more than anything. Roman’s character didn’t grow to a level the fans wanted and in the end, he is suffering for it.
WWE is trying to make amends for it now, but it might take upto six months before WWE can hear a good pop for Roman or fans may never cheer for Roman at all. Let’s face it, the damage has been done. WWE needs to do some really unexpected, big changes and Roman might have to jump through hoops to repair the damage. But, is WWE willing to do it?
#3 You don’t need gimmick matches to capture a fan’s heart
One of the greatest revelations that NXT has brought forth is that you don’t need gimmick matches to capture a fan’s heart. The major portion of complaints about WWE we are hearing now are – the product has gone soft, there is no edge to the product anymore, WWE should bring back blood and various stuffs along this line.
But NXT has proved it wrong. There have been two or three ladder matches, on cage match (that too recently) and few other gimmick matches in the whole history of NXT. But, has it hurt the product? No.
NXT is also governed by the same rules and restrictions that tie the hands of WWE, but how can it not have such complaints? The answer is simple.
There is no substitute for a good wrestling match for a fan. Let’s face it, we all are at the most basic level a wrestling fan. That is why we watch the product. If WWE can deliver matches like Nakamura vs Zayn, Joe vs Balor, Bayley vs Sasha, we wouldn’t miss blood that much, will we? (Given that there is always a primal part of us that would like to watch bloody matches when they occur)
#2 Sometimes, all you need is some sensible booking
This is where NXT truly stands out from rest of the product. Triple H even got the best booker award for some really great booking decisions.
Pro-wrestling is scripted. When something is scripted, the script has as much responsibility as the execution does. You can’t just blame the performers for something. If something is scripted properly and it is executed to perfection, we will get something magical out of it. And frankly, WWE has been missing that magic of late.
Sometimes, all it takes is some sensible booking to happen and people would surely accept the outcome even if they are really not happy with it. Reigns vs Styles match at Payback was one such thing. We all knew Reigns will win and a portion of the fanbase was not happy with it. But, we all loved the way the match was played out. Reigns and Styles carried their part to perfection and fans cheered for them.
NXT’s booking decisions are the most sensible decisions that have been done by WWE in recent times. Take Balor-Joe or Banks-Bayley rivalry for example. The booking decisions made the story to unfold slowly and progressively. At some point or other, we had wanted our favorite Superstar to win the match, but he/she ended up losing it. But, the way it was booked, made us happy.
There is always something to take away for both fanbase in each and every match. Sometimes, it is the fact that the match was great, or the superstar we supported has won. or the Superstar we are supporting is growing in character despite the loss. So a sensible booking helps to keep the fans happier and more satisfied than anything else.
#1 Women are no slouches
Well, if there is something WWE needs to learn immediately from NXT it is this. They say that the Women’s Revolution is in progress, but is it?
Still there is only one storyline developing (that too pathetically), still there are tag matches booked for PPV matches involving the champion, still there is only one star being built and above all, still there are very few talents getting air time. How can we say the Women’s Revolution is taking place? They are still playing second fiddle to men’s division.
The women’s division is really below par and whoever is booking the women’s division after WrestleMania should be dragged out of their lazy couch. The division has been dropping back to lazy booking bit by bit and it needs to be taken care of as soon as possible.
Take NXT, Sasha Banks, Charlotte, Bayley, Becky Lynch and countless others were given enough air time and it helped the product to establish itself as a pioneer in women’s division booking. I honestly think the decision to book Sasha and Bayley for a 30 minute Iron Women match is what gave Triple H the edge over other bookers.
Women are no slouches, only that they are not given enough opportunities. NXT has even number of fans who come to the show to watch the females wrestle as much as the number of fans that are there for men’s division. The reason is that NXT has invested as much time they invest in male performes in female performers too. This is comething WWE needs to look into it immediately.
To borrow a few of Paul Heyman’s words – “When is the last time Women’s Division did something impactful?”