With NXT catching on so well over the last year it’s not out of the ordinary to see people on social media proclaiming it’s superiority over the main WWE product. I’m not here to ‘well actually’ that sentiment, but comparing the two are like apples and oranges. I like NXT, and when it’s at it’s best the matches are as good as anything I’ve ever seen from any company. The Women’s division this year has been the best collection of female competitors stateside in probably ever. And the overall feel takes me back to the days of the old Saturday evening Jim Crockett-run NWA shows on TBS. It’s a great mix of old school feel with new school talent. But is it better than the main product? I don’t think so. Here’s why it’s wrong to make that assertion:
My best vs your worst isn’t fair
Comparing NXT Takeover’s Sasha Banks-Bayley match from last night to a Diva’s match on RAW between Summer Rae and Eva Marie or a two minute match between members of two tag teams sounds like an asinine comparison. But it isn’t far off from some of the analogies I’ve seen. ‘NXT is better than WWE’ can often be translated to mean ‘NXT Takeover is better than RAW’. And it should be. One is a pay-per-view style show with matches that are fought to conclusive finishes between the best people on the roster and the other is a three hour TV show used to set up monthly pay per view events. The former should be better. It’s like comparing a movie to a trailer. This doesn’t apply to the women’s division. NXT’s product on that side is better and there’s no argument to be made there.
Revolving rosters vs a static roster
NXT works like one of the old territories in that wrestlers stick around for a little while, get over, hit the main event, and then move on. Last night’s show was a send off of sorts for Kevin Owens, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte. As a result Banks and Owens were able to put their opponents, Bayley and Fin Balor, over clean while Lynch and Charlotte were able to put Bayley over in the weeks leading up and set her up to beat Banks. There’s no concern over what to do with any of them tomorrow, because they’re gone. On the other hand, when Owens beat John Cena a few months ago there had to be an immediate plan in place to keep the main breadwinner (Cena) strong afterward. If someone gets over enough in NXT you can guarantee they’ll get a run at or with the title, whereas fans of a guy like Dolph Ziggler may never see their hope realized because the company may never clear out enough guys in front of him to put the belt on him. A guy ahead of Dolph like Seth Rollins isn’t going to be retiring for at least a decade and a half. And even a veteran like Randy Orton has a good ten years left. That’s a much different reality than when Kevin Owens showed up in NXT in November of 2014 and was wearing the title two months later then was off to WWE six months after that to make room for Fin Balor.
Baggage vs No Baggage
Face it, a lot of you haven’t gotten over some things. Some of you still think John Cena wins every match he’s in and haven’t forgotten that Triple H didn’t put over CM Punk. When you watch a Ziggler match and he loses you forget how many times he’s won. I understand, trust me (I haven’t forgotten Hulk Hogan no-selling all of Ric Flair’s offense for 15 minutes and then squashing him back in 1994). NXT doesn’t have any of that. Remember that guy who got over but was kept out of the NXT title picture because of backstage drama? Of course you don’t because that guy doesn’t exist. Neither does the guy who refuses to job to certain members of the roster, or the guy who wrestles while being on the booking committee and somehow manages to find his way into the main event all the time.
NXT is as close to a meritocracy as you’ll find in wrestling; if you get over you get your shot, and after that you move on before anything really bad can happen to you. That brings a certain romanticism and warm, fuzzy feeling that the main roster does not. The main roster is about juggling 40 workers around who aren’t going anywhere for five years so that people get chances and no one gets stale. There are politics, there are men and women who never get the opportunity you as a fan think they deserve, and there are men and women (like Big Show) who, much to your consternation, constantly get prominent roles because they are reliable. It’s like any other workplace. And that can drag down your opinion of it.
So yeah, I don’t think NXT is better than the WWE. It’s just different. I enjoy both, and so can you.