It’s been a buzzing rumor for a while that WWE has been planning to put NXT on television, largely speculated to be with FS1 as part of their new deal with FOX. The reason for this was always thought to be pretty clear: to counterprogram AEW. Well… this is looking less like a rumor these days. According to Fightful.com, the intent was for them to put NXT opposite AEW, no matter what day they ended up on. That is a dedicated attack plan if ever I’ve seen one. Of course, AEW’s show ended up on the same timeslot that NXT currently premiers on anyway.
Now of course nothing’s been announced yet. But Fightful is a trusted source. If they claim WWE has confirmed this to their employees, I see no reason to doubt it. So it’s all but announced at this stage. Obviously we still don’t have many details, such as how this effects taping schedules, whether or not this would involve going live or expanding to 2 hours, ect.
A general thought is they’ll be sending main roster stars to NXT for guest appearances to try and drum up ratings. This is actually in line with the old days where they used familiar names to help sell tickets.
For me personally, this brings about a lot of mixed feelings.
I’ve always loved NXT. I’ve always wanted to see it make a jump to television and expand further. But… I have to support AEW, it’s success is so invaluable to the wrestling industry. If it comes down to watching one or the other live, it’s not really a choice as far as I’m concerned. I have to stick with AEW.
And that’d be a shame to have to make that choice. Because I assume this move would mean that NXT wouldn’t be on the WWE Network every week anymore. My guess is that they’d move to the same system Raw and SmackDown have, where the shows pop up on the Network a month later. This would make watching NXT significantly harder for me and others that share my stance. I’d love nothing more than to watch every bit of both each week, but it doesn’t seem WWE wants this to be an option.
And this is particularly scary for another reason…
How long until NXT becomes just another Vince McMahon show?
NXT’s appeal has always been that it’s so different from WWE’s main roster shows. It’s much more wrestling focused, with a big emphasis on simple, oldschool storytelling combined with exciting modern ring styles. It’s a lovely product that, despite constant talent raids in the form of callups, has always managed to build to huge Takeover events with awesome payoffs to longform angles.
NXT is where it is today because of the awesome product it’s developed under Triple H. But if this thing is going up against AEW, if it’s Vince McMahon’s answer to competition… how much power is Haitch gonna have going forward? I’m sure he’ll still mostly be in charge by episode one of this new trek. But history shows Vinnie doesn’t let other people run major shows for long. I’m almost positive he’ll have his hands in this more and more by the week, especially if they end up losing out in ratings to AEW.
This would undoubtedly lead to NXT becoming just another WWE show, like Raw or SmackDown. And while the current plan is for main roster appearances to be sporadic and not a huge focus, that would probably also change if they start losing out in this war they’re going for. If we end up straight Wildcard Ruling this and NXT is filled with main roster talent with Vince producing it then… oof. That’s dark days, for certain.
Hopefully the spirit of competition will instead drive them to do something new.
If NXT goes up, as it is now, head-to-head in a major battle, I think it has a solid shot. It’s built a steady loyal base and is easily a strong enough product to gain more fans. And I’ve always felt Triple H was prepared to run a show of this magnitude. So I hope to God that Vince lets it happen that way if they have to go forward with this.
Unfortunately, I feel like I know him better than that… only time will tell.