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On the NXT level - Debut Column (June 17th, 2020)

Posted By: Daniel A.J Barker on Jun 16, 2020

On the NXT level - Debut Column (June 17th, 2020)

WNS, I'd like to give a sincere thank you for the responses from yesterday's article. Covering All Elite Wrestling on a weekly basis is going to be a blast, what's even better is offering a second column to cover NXT. I received no objection to that suggestion and I am running with it. Wednesdays are 'the' best day of the week to be a wrestling fan, at least for me. Down the line, I may do a crossover to provide a narrative in comparing the show's strengths and weaknesses against one another. Although, admittedly, that element may spill over subconsciously.

Please consider this a taster, covering a couple of major points. I'm getting geared up to provide a more thorough summary following this coming Wednesday's edition of NXT. Without further adieu, let's get this started.

Adam Cole's Future

We saw last week that Scarlett presented Adam Cole with an hourglass, representing the end to his illustrious title reign. An ominous message, especially when you consider the tenaciousness of Karrion Kross. This monster and manager combination is really cool to see. The absence of a live audience doesn't really deter the impact. It is imposing to watch.

Where does Adam Cole go from here? We know his contract is up in a matter of months. I think he'd be foolish to consider jumping ship to the competition, where is fiance, Britt Baker is. I'm also skeptical that sticking with the company and getting drafted off the show may be problematic. I will say this, out of the entire roster, I'd give Cole the best chance in becoming a star on RAW and Smackdown faster and with less resistance.

The reason I say problematic comes from a negative stigma I've had ever since NXT became introduced and gathered momentum. I despite instances, which were frequent in the early years, where a star was made on the yellow brand and then got treat like a nobody when called up. Main WWE creative had a habit of needing to repackage a wrestler, stripping the qualities that brought them to the fold in the first place.

An added notion, I watch NXT pretending it isn't associated with RAW or Smackdown. It grinds me to see one hell of a performance by outstanding wrestlers be perceived at the bottom of the pecking order when the main event of a WWE PPV can be an abomination. Those feelings come from a naive place deep inside where I think the top stars in promotion should justifiably put on competitive performance. Nine times out of ten, the development brand is the one that shines the most in this respect.

I won't continue to put a downer on things, as there's hope. There are a number of technically gifted workers on the main roster. Adam Cole could work complimentary by keeping his run fixated on these particular opponents. If he is to lose the NXT championship and get called up, I'd inject him straight into the Intercontinental picture, challenging A J Styles.

Imagine keeping A.J Styles and Cole on a tight leash. Feature these pair trading arguments. Allow Cole to establish a few solid outings, gaining contendership, and establishing the claim that he’s arrived to make history. He already has on NXT, his list of accomplishments speak for itself. And a big match for the Intercontinental title with Styles would put him in good stead; win, lose or draw.

I’m imagining Triple H may be nervous about the prospect of his longest reigning NXT champion going elsewhere. A substantial investment in time has been pumped into creating a future main eventer on the main brands. I’ve listened to many stories about Triple H giving reassurances to talents wanting to leave that creatively, everything will improve someday. We kind of gather what that is implying, don’t we?
Under no circumstances can I imagine ‘The Game’ taking the mismanagement of Cole lying down. Following developments in WWE around Backlash, a change in their core creative probably needs to demonstrate what significant impact is surfacing, before a logical decision can be established. It may range between good and hideously awful. If it looks like a gamble, I cannot fault Triple H for protecting one of his own from starting off on the wrong foot.

The ideal solution, in my opinion, is to sign Cole to a deal where he’s making better money. Put that offer on par with either RAW or Smackdown money. It would be utterly foolish to allow him to slip away and that wouldn’t be the wisest choice on his part to do that. That being said, the high expectations need to translate into action. A better deal similar to the other brands and no rush in terms of placing him on one without a solid game plan.

The Backtrack Trend and the Future Outlook

Isn't it ironic that wrestlers in the world's largest promotion are dreaded going up the ladder and those already there wishing they were on the lower levels? Quite a fascinating dynamic, really. The tale of two contrasting approaches to a wrestling show.

As competition arrived on Wednesday nights, we saw previous NXT wrestlers join the fray. Bigger names to provide a jump in ratings. In practice that seems a good practice. I’d argue for a development brand, they didn’t need to resort to it. To feature returning performers on a special edition ahead of time sounds like a solid idea. By going head to head against another promotion, they already have the tools available to be competitive, with the advantages of higher production values.

When you look at RAW, the flagship show, it has been stuck in a rut for years. Ratings declining to record lows. Vince McMahon is caught in a comfort zone complex. Sure, money can fill fix problems, resolve small leaks. This should ideally be followed shortly by resolving the actual issue.

NXT displays the booking needed to draw consistent interest. Stories are told and carry over, rarely losing steam or significance along the way. Anyone on the roster here is used to having input, a sense of control, and a vision in mind to an end result.

Throw one of these individuals to the bigger leagues and those principles are absent. Decisions can turn on a dime, plans drop with hardly enough time to make good on an attempt and you cannot perform long enough to get over. You’re given a bite-size opportunity in comparison to connecting with the fans.

Often driven by a direction that is conjured by a horde of writers, too many cooks in the kitchen comes to mind here.

There’s a trend which seems nigh on impossible to breakthrough. A top spot earned can be swiped away in view of a returning legend who garners a better reaction, squashing the momentum you tried utilizing to strive for such a success.

Getting to this point places hard-working performers in a state of mind where fame or better said the pursuit of it, cannot bring them happiness. They want to wrestle and have a greater sense of freedom. It is a saving grace we have NXT. A real alternative, the lowest in the pecking order but upstages the rest of the company.

An era will dawn in the near future where the trend is going to switch. Wrestlers are happily demoting themselves because they can sense the show is working as a benefit to their careers. When Triple H inherits more control and influence, those values are going to shift over to the red and blue brands. His track record running NXT is highly regarded. All he needs is the popular television times to showcase the better formula both he and the talent has contributed towards.

Ultimately, needing to backtrack is a sign that someone requires refinement. There’s no shame in that. At present, this ‘development brand’ is the pivotal piece to secure WWE’s future for years to come. Nothing around under this umbrella speaks longevity or future potential, at least not close to what is displayed here. It isn’t just building stars, it is an effective preparation of a creative takeover.

This debut is drawing long into the night, I do hope you have enjoyed this and or willing to offer your input. Better yet, why not share your take on this?

You can contact me at dbarker89@hotmail.co.uk, find my new Twitter profile @danielajbarker1, or track my Facebook page @danielajbarker.

Until we meet again next week, take care.


Tags: #nxt #adam cole #wwe

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