NXT has grown incredibly over the last 7 years since it turned from a game show to the developmental brand. Under Triple H‘s vision, he used the yellow brand as a test for himself before he eventually takes over the main role in the company. And to say that he has succeeded at it would be an understatement. He took it from its infancy and helped expand the brand like never before.
It was in 2015 when NXT began to expand to bigger arenas. It was all with NXT Takeover: Brooklyn I that really saw NXT announce itself to the world. Ever since then, it’s been nothing but an upward trajectory for the yellow brand. They became the hottest wrestling show on the planet and their formula itself made them stand out as a very different product within WWE.
As a result, fans who were frustrated watching RAW and SmackDown opted to start viewing NXT as an alternative in itself and the viewers unanimously seemed to agree that the product was way better than anything the main roster put out – atleast from a quality perspective. Moreover, the fact that it was just a one-hour show meant that there was always going to have a sustainable level of quality.
However, after many years, things may change big time for NXT. As you know, WWE is starting with SmackDown Live on FOX Sports this coming October and after discussing with executives, it seems as though NXT won’t just be on FS1 – but it will be a two-hour live show. Here is what the Wrestling Observer Newsletter had to say about it.
The NXT on FS 1 is tentatively set for 8-10 p.m. on Wednesday nights. The working idea is for a live two-hour show with the feeling that a taped show will not work to head-off AEW. Where WWE feels they have the edge is they have an endless supply of main roster talent they can shuffle in whenever they want them.
Whether this goes from Full Sail, which may get tough with shows weekly to keep crowd enthusiasm up int the same venue (although they’ll be using more main roster guys and the Full Sail crowd pops big for those every time out) or they tape it and tour with it is unknown. But we were told this was largely agreed to in late June. or early July. One would think WWE and FOX will heavily promote this on Smackdown each week and possibly on Raw, and FS 1 will see that they are in a war with TNT on Wednesdays which means FOX will be out there promoting it. The other psychology over who gets off stronger and how WWE reacts if they lose early or AEW reacts if they lose early will be very interesting. TNT is in more homes, is a much higher rated station, but WWE is the name brand to the masses and NXT would be promoted on the two most-watched shows.
This is going to be a big game-changer for NXT. The programming in itself will take a massive turn and there are many questions as to how it will affect the product. Ultimately, the charm in NXT lied in the circumstances around it – a one-hour pre-taped show and an intimate environment.
While it is nice to see a few underutilized main roster stars occasionally appear on the roster, having multiple superstars do so may affect the charm that NXT has. And this “charm” is something that we simply can’t emphasize on enough. It’s the charm that made NXT special and it’s what made it stand out as a product.
While we also understand the sentiment of wanting NXT to compete with AEW, will it really benefit NXT on the long run? Fans who follow NXT often overestimate it’s outreach to the casual audience. While the hardcore audience will undoubtedly prefer AEW at first, it seems like an unnecessary move on WWE’s part to put NXT on FS1.
Moreover, they have their Network and NXT for a long time used to be one of the biggest selling factors. While the Network is still a bang for your buck, it’s still removing a very important part of it. But that itself isn’t the biggest issue. The issue is as to how FOX Executives will end up dealing with NXT and its presentation.
Since NXT is purely and 100% WWE produced, they have the freedom to run it the way they want to. Is it really worth the sacrifice at the end to try and compete with All Elite Wrestling? From a fan perspective, it would probably be better to continue NXT the way it is on another night, but from the look of things, we may be seeing a very different version of the yellow brand from 2019 onwards.