How realistic is Triple H's vision of NXT becoming like WCW? Would a potential superstar be willing to sign with NXT if they thought they had no reasonable chance of being called up no matter how hard they worked? How does the pay for a top NXT guy, like Sami Zayn for example, compare to a low end WWE guy, like Heath Slater?
Triple H comparing NXT to ECW of old and saying he hopes to see it become like WCW, minus the whole going out of business part isn't necessarily a new idea. This is the reason for the brand extension and why WWE worked so hard to create Raw vs. Smackdown for years. The idea was because they didn't have any competition, they would create their own. It got to the point where their talent roster was too thin to sustain two distinct brands and they reverted back to Smackdown being secondary to Raw, as opposed to treating them both as equals.
I believe making NXT its own brand isn't a bad idea and could actually work better than Raw vs. Smackdown because there is a clear distinction from NXT to main roster programming. The product is geared towards older and "smarter" fans and focuses on well worked athletic matches, as opposed to the storylines. The IWC loves NXT because it's what many of us want to see more of on Raw and Smackdown; athletic pro wrestling matches that are entertaining, rather than lame contrived storylines (think Jerry Springer and The Bella Twins).
As for stars signing for the sole purpose of being utilized on NXT, I don't see why they wouldn't. There is no other option to work in the mainstream and while they would have to sign a developmental deal with a downside around $30,000/year, the upside is enormous. I don't know how much money Heath Slater makes but traditionally, lower-card workers don't have downsides much more than a developmental worker. However, they still collect their $500 when booked on shows.
WWE obviously does a lot of good work with Susan G Komen, Make-A-Wish, Be a STAR, etc. How do you feel about Triple H's public support of a controversial figure like Floyd Mayweather?
WWE is a publicly traded company and they do things for charity and public awareness that reflect their corporate values. While we can all point to areas where they hypocritical, WWE should be commended for what they do with the efforts you mentioned. Not only that but there are others. As for Triple H embracing a controversial name like Mayweather, I don't have a problem with it. While I obviously don't condone domestic abuse (a charge Mayweather was jailed on), Triple H has the right to be friends with who he wants. WWE has made a killing off bringing in controversial figures, remember Mike Tyson? Let's also remember there are plenty of controversial workers within WWE. Steve Austin pled no contest to domestic abuse charges in 2002 that were brought on by his ex-wife Debra Marshall.
Usually when a top name in WWE leaves the company for personal reasons (Kurt Angle, Bobby Lashley, Hulk Hogan, Jeff Hardy, etc), we see them go to TNA Wrestling and become "their star". I hope this don't happen but do you see CM Punk possibly going to TNA in the near future because of his personal issue with WWE?
Many workers that defected from WWE to TNA Wrestling did so in order to cash in on their name value while working a lighter schedule. There were different circumstances regarding each name that you mentioned but TNA had the help of Spike TV to bring in big names in hopes of challenging WWE. The experiment didn't work and TNA has been scaling back for over a year. Yes, they still employ Lashley, Hardy and Angle but TNA is no longer a viable option for most people that leave WWE unless they're willing to take significantly less to do so. Remember, some of these bigger names were actually paid by Spike TV, who is now looking to move on from TNA. I'm always baffled at the sharp criticism Spike gets from TNA fans. While Spike could have done more in terms of promotion, they could have done a heck of a lot less too. In addition to paying the company a reasonable sum for their rights, they also paid big talent contracts.
The CM Punk to TNA stuff is ridiculous. Punk is "over" the wrestling business and is looking to move on with his life. Even if he wanted to wrestle, which by all indications he doesn't, he would be much better suited in making WWE pony up 7 figures to bring him back or going the international route like AJ Styles did.
From the Ask WNW vault…
November 2012 With Ryback basically losing again where does WWE go from here? - WWE is in a world of trouble with Ryback following what was essentially a loss at Survivor Series. Let me be clear. I’m excited to see Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins get called up to the main WWE roster but I hate how Ryback was booked at both Hell in a Cell and Survivor Series. The premise for Ryback’s character is that he is the “unstoppable monster” that needs to be “fed more.” As soon as he’s “fed,” he can’t handle it. Some people are taking this as me being high up on Ryback over the IWC darlings, which is unfounded. I’d be fine with guys like Punk, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro, etc. running the company without guys like Ryback being in the main event picture. However, now that Ryback has been chosen for a push they have to push him. The blatant lack of confidence in putting him over compounded with the holding pattern they are in with Punk for Royal Rumble is making for intolerable booking. Either push him or don’t book him in the main event. At this point Ryback means nothing more than a mid-card talent and he’s lost a significant amount of steam.
Questions that are legible stand the best chance of getting answered. The next installment of Ask WNW is scheduled to run on Tuesday, September 16, 2014.