What started as an ill-advised wrestling reality show featuring some of the wrestling industry’s most promising talents eventually combined with WWE’s struggling developmental system that lead for the reformation into one of the hottest brands in wrestling/sports entertainment today. Now you can read all about this transformation in ECW’s latest official WWE book NXT: The Future Is Now by sports writer and WWE expert Jon Robinson.
So I just got back from Orlando about two weeks ago for Wrestlemania week. Being a big fan as a child and always having some fondness for this sport/spectacle/athletic display/live action soap opera/whatever you want to call wrestling, it was more than a little crazy to attend what is widely considered the epicentre of wrestling events. I was literally going to events every day from Axxess to meet and greets to the WWE Hall of Fame to Wrestlemania to Raw and Smackdown. For any WWE/wrestling fan in general, you should experience it at least once. But to bring it back to the book, NXT’s fingerprints can be seen all over the majority of the week’s festivities. Whether it be a constantly active NXT ring at Axxess, the latest in NXT Takeover live special, getting to visit the WWE Performance Center (one of the main highlights of the trip) or the presence up and down the Wrestlemania card of former NXT talent including Raw Women’s Champion Bayley, United States Champion Kevin Owens, Cruiserweight Champion Neville, Austin Ares, Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair, Enzo Amore, Big Cass, Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, Seth Rollins and many more – it is undeniable the of the impact NXT has had on WWE and wrestling in general today.
This current iteration of NXT is the baby of Paul “Triple H” Leveque who, as the Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative for WWE, has made it his business to make sure WWE has a stream of top new talent including those built from scratch and those who already have a reputation on the independent wrestling scene. What started as WWE’s developmental system has become a brand in its own right and in some ways built in competition. NXT was this awesome show where some of the top talents in wrestling were having amazing matches seen only on the WWE Network (the WWE’s online streaming service). And it was because of this show that we saw talent such as top independent stars such as Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe alongside international stars such as Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura make their long awaited WWE debuts. We have been treated to some unbelievable wrestling including Balor vs Joe, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens long rivalry of the independent scene making the jump to WWE television and dream matches like Nakamura’s WWE debut against Sami Zayn in 2016. NXT has also brought us some of the most epic entrances in wrestling including Finn Balor decked out in his demon paint, Shinsuke Nakamura’s live action violin accompaniment or Bobby Roode’s too glorious to describe journeys to the ring. In addition, tag team wrestling has thrived in NXT with strong teams such as American Alpha and DIY coming to the forefront with their matches with The Revival (arguably the greatest tag team working in wrestling today).
It was also NXT that was directly responsible for the change in how women wrestlers were portrayed in WWE. Gone are the days when “Divas” were being hired primarily for their looks fighting in 3 minute matches for a belt that resembled a piece of jewellery instead of a prestigious championship belt. Now, this group of talent are fighting over the NXT Women’s Championship in competitive matches that are stealing the show. The division saw the emergence of many stars including current Raw Women’s Champion – and heart and soul of NXT – Bayley, Charlotte, the daughter of Ric Flair (who has become a huge star in her own right), Sasha Banks (The Boss), Becky Lynch, Paige and many more. Bayley, Sasha, Charlotte and Becky (collectively nicknamed the Four Horsewomen) were particularly instrumental in this division’s success, delivering consistently exciting matches which included the epic Bayley vs Sasha feud which lead to a match of the year candidate at NXT Takeover Brooklyn, and the first ever women’s iron man match at NXT Takeover Respect, which was also the first time a women’s match main evented a WWE live special. These changes permeated to the main roster where the Divas title and name were phased out and replaced with the Women’s Championship. The division is still going strong with the current champ Japanese sensation Asuka currently dominating the competition.
So there’s a lot to love about NXT and, if you are a fan or just someone curious how it became such a hit, then this book is perfect for you. It tells the entire story of the brand’s beginning from its replacement of FCW to the present day, which encompasses a lot of twists and turns. Also included are in depth interviews with Triple H, the Performance Center staff including Matt Bloom, British Wrestling royalty William Regal, Robbie Brookside, Sara Amato and many others. Lots of topics are covered, which lets you know how talent is trained, what they are looking for when scouting and what it takes in general to be a performer today amongst others. It gives you an in-depth look at the Performance Center facilities (which trust me having visited there is something to behold) and how it came about. But perhaps most interesting are the stories from the talent themselves: whether it be adjusting to WWE style after years on the independents, someone like Finn Balor (who was a huge star in Japan) having to present himself to a new audience, talent being built from scratch like Charlotte, female talent like Bayley discussing how NXT changed their careers and allowed them to evolve women’s wrestling in the US, or the great memories of the late American Dream Dusty Rhodes who prior to his death served as a producer and trainer at the Performance Center. All packed with some great behind the scenes and in ring action photos.
If you have any desire to get into working for the WWE specifically, this book is a great guide for what they are looking for today. For fans, it provides a great insight to how a developmental program became one of the hottest things in wrestling today. Regardless, it’s well worth checking out.
NXT: The Future Is Now is out now from ECW Press (£19.99, h/b, 9781770413252)
Check out the trailer below:
Find out more about the history of women’s wrestling in Sisterhood Of The Squared Circle also from ECW Press.
Also check out the autobiography of WWE legend Pat Patterson Accepted also from ECW Press.
Post by Leo