Chris Hero Explains How NXT’s Early Success ‘Muddies The Water’ In WWE, Why Hierarchy Leads To More Confusion

chris hero

Photo Credit: WWE

Chris Hero can see why wrestlers that are new to the scene might be confused by the training process in NXT and WWE. On the debut episode of AdFreeShows’ Can Chris Hero Save Wrestling? podcast, Hero went over his journey through the wrestling business to get to NXT, and Thompson noted that while Hero has been everywhere, he wondered if the ‘NXT process’ had perhaps complicated the process a bit. Hero agreed, noting that indie-experienced talent have a much easier time working in the company due to being well-versed in a few areas, while talent that just started out and only know the ‘WWE way’ might be startled when presented with change.

“Oh, 110%. There’s just— once they went live week-to-week, they started losing focus of what they wanted to do, or what they wanted from the talent, rather,” because the initial purpose of NXT was to have a television show to get talent ready for the main roster so that they would get those reps in. When I started with FCW, we’d do our monthly tapings for FCW on the Sunshine Network, but then they worked out this deal with Full Sail—they ran a pilot episode right before I started that’s got a cool Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins match and Cesaro’s wearing this beret, it’s one of the things he was working on before he got called up—but they,” Hero explained, “and I don’t want to say ‘stumbled’, but they ended up with this lucrative deal with Full Sail, and they got on Hulu and then the [WWE] Network came, and now they capitalized on that ‘niche’ fan as opposed to the casual fan that loves the main WWE Superstars.”

“Was it 2015 where [NXT] really started gaining steam? They got KENTA, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn was on his way up, Neville was on his way up. Cesaro would come back and do matches here and again, TJ Wilson—Tyson Kidd—would come in and do matches and it just really exploded. I think it was Mania weekend in San Jose where it sold out really quickly,” Hero said, “and they were like, ‘We’ve got something on our hands’, so the success of that, muddies the water, I think, at the Performance Center.”

“Because, when you have people that are learning how to wrestle, are they trying to learn to wrestle so they can be WWE Superstars or so they can wrestle for NXT? While people say they are the same, they’re absolutely not the same because they are run by different people that want different things. I think one of the reasons that the wrestlers that have a background in independent wrestling are so successful is because they are able to adapt to that. When all you know is what you’ve been taught in the Performance Center,” Hero explained, “it’s really hard to throw someone a curveball and go, ‘You’ve been doing it ‘this’ way for two years of your three-year career, now we need you to do it ‘this’ way.’ It’s difficult for the guys and girls there to make certain adjustments.”

Hero said they could go back and forth about what’s good pro wrestling and what’s not, but it all comes down to what the boss wants—and therein lies another part of the confusion.

“They’ve got so many bodies in the Performance Center and so many different classes. And that’s another thing—when new people come to the Performance Center, one bit of advice I would try to give them is, when you’re so new and starting something exciting like that, you have your first match and [you ask around for feedback] and you have 5-6 different opinions for your match, but what happens is, over time, that gets really confusing and convoluted,” Hero said, “and next thing you know, you’re having a match and trying to figure out what to do, but you’ve got these six opinions in your brain, like ‘What do I do?’”

“So when you start, it is of utmost importance to figure out who you’re trying to please, what you’re trying to do, and then you need to pick a peer whose opinion you trust. And then you would have a coach, a head coach, and then you would have Triple H. So that’s the hierarchy of that. So, when you’ve got all these coaches and you’re doing things a certain way and you move to another coach’s class,” Hero said, “you have to learn quick what he wants or what she wants because it may be different. It’s like switching territories, right? You’re like, ‘Well, how am I supposed to know this?’ It gets really overwhelming for the new talent.”

Thompson referenced the WWE roster working for an “audience of one” and that one would be Vince, and asked if Triple H would be that one for NXT. Hero agreed, noting that you also have Shawn Michaels there now, but most of the time those two are on the same page and while there are some slight differences on occasion, they work really well together. Hero was also asked if he could see Shawn transitioning into the “Triple H role” once Hunter and Stephanie hypothetically took over the company for Vince McMahon, and he said he could see it, since Shawn doesn’t like to travel as much anymore and it would give him a stable base of operations.

Check out the full episode on AdFreeShows at this link.

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