What “went wrong” with NXT? Vince McMahon is what went wrong with NXT.
Let me rephrase that, Vince McMahon caring about what other wrestling companies were doing is what went wrong with NXT.
Let me expand on that for a minute. Vince McMahon is on the record as saying the WWE’s competition is everywhere and anywhere. God damn pal, WWE is an entrainment company not a rasslin’ company! But that’s not true at all. They’re a wrestling company masquerading as an entertainment company. They always were, always will be.
So back to the original premise, Vince McMahon caring about other WRESTLING promotions and not his own brands is what went wrong for NXT.
When the WWF was at its best, arguably the Hulkamania and the Attitude era’s, they didn’t care what anyone else was doing. McMahon and company were so laser focused on their own brand that they didn’t care or even acknowledge what the AWA, WCCW, NWA, WCW, or whomever else was doing. Seriously, you could watch WWF TV and not know other promotions were out there.
But what about when WWF acknowledged WCW and the nWo?!?
Well, they lost for 83-weeks is what happened and then McMahon stopped caring about WCW and focused on WWF. Veterans of the business, Steve Austin, Jim Ross, etc., talk about how the brass stopped having a separate monitor in the gorilla position with WCW Monday Nitro on it. They no longer cared what the competition was doing and only what the WWF was doing.
What was the result? The WWF won the war in a landslide.
Back to present day, AEW emerged and immediately it went to DEFCON 1 in Titan Towers. McMahon was smart enough to realize that the diehard wrestling fans were tuning into NXT and not Raw so it made sense to focus on the one-time developmental brand and make it into something more. That something more was more than it needed to be.
WWE decided to horde talent from the independent and international scene to prevent them from going to the new guys. Provide a small but vocal fan base with the pro wrestling they remember from the 80’s and 90’s and it will help squash the “other guys.” Create stars that will help the WWE grow…until they no longer knew what to do them when they reached Raw and SmackDown!
McMahon’s focus on NXT was misguided. The focus needed to be on developing these performers and keeping the momentum when they ascended to the main roster and not focusing on AEW and the “war.” Forget what airs on TNT and take a long look at the products that air on USA Network and FOX Sports. Why are viewers, looking at you Monday Night Raw, dropping like lead balloon.
Why is the small but vocal fanbase not paying attention anymore? Why are their eyes wandering elsewhere? All answers point back to the McMahon, the writers, and the overall boring product on the main roster (mostly RAW). McMahon’s lack of focus on his “main” products forced NXT into this lose-lose situation it’s currently in.
Good news, it’s fixable and it doesn’t involve firing anyone! I get to that in part III!