This week Finn Balor, who I have championed on these pages previously, gave an interview where he said that he was content with his place in NXT. The report can be found here but the quote was as follows “I’m not in any rush to make a move to Raw or SmackDown. I’m very content at NXT and there’s a lot of challenges and a lot of milestones still to be achieved in NXT before I make any move.” He could have just been answering in way that did not disrespect NXT, but if he truly means it then this is a great cause for concern. As good as NXT is at the moment and has been for a while now, everyone's main aim should be to reach the main WWE roster. An NXT show will never get crowds of over 70,000 people and will never reach 13 million homes as WrestleMania did this year.
I appreciate NXT has a higher profile but I don't recall ever hearing a superstar they say they were happy to be in a developmental territory. I can't imagine dedicated athletes like Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Batista and John Cena were ever content at Ohio Valley. So if he truly meant what he said and an ambitious and proud worker such as Balor is not desperate to be put into the main roster then we need to ask why this is? Perhaps Finn Balor simply does not trust WWE creative to get things right at the moment.
He certainly wouldn't be the first superstar to air their concerns in the last six months as I recently documented here. Although Dean Ambrose has been recently shunted into the main event picture he has been badly misused along with Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, Roman Reigns and others. This lack of forward thinking could be enough to put Balor off joining the main roster when he has spent so many years building his reputation round the world.
Or could it be that there are just too many superstars being promoted at once? If WWE creative are struggling to keep established current stars relevant then what hope have the newcomers got? The Ascension were built up for weeks and flopped almost immediately after their win over The New Age Outlaws. And that was without other tag teams being promoted at the same time. If multiple NXT stars are being promoted at once that may again reduce their chances of getting the opportunities they deserve.
In the last few months we have seen Hideo Itami, (Adrian) Neville, Kalisto, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens all appear in WWE programming although Itami and Zayn in one off appearances up to now and both are currently injured. But if they all make the move full-time soon will the impact of their arrival be lost and will they just become "one of the NXT lot"? After a more than promising start for Neville it is concerning that he is now feuding with Bo Dallas, a drop down the pecking order after matches with John Cena and "King" Barrett, while Owens is moved up the card in his place. Neville appears to have caught Ambrose's direction-less bug but I hope it is nothing more than a blip.
Then there is the impact on NXT, as much as its primary objective is to develop talent for WWE they do also need to protect that brand. NXT have recently been on the road again and are looking to expand in order to beat off competition from promotions such as ROH. If they lose their top guys en masse every few months then the tours and shows will stop as people lose interest, unless of course they can maintain the same level of star production and regularly bring in talent such as Samoa Joe.
If it is concerns about how WWE will use him I can understand that given what we have seen in the last year, although I am highly optimistic about the future. Lots of wrongs are being put right at the minute (badly used titles, tag teams and divas getting little time, Ambrose not being pushed) during what is a transitional period and I can see more things getting better. If it is too many people being integrated at once, I can also understand that. With Owens and Neville now fighting for spots with so many hungry established stars I would maybe want to see how things play out before making the jump. Balor is paid a higher wage than the norm in NXT and therefore could bide his time for a while without that being a concern.
What is clear is that to protect WWE and NXT there needs to be some structure in how movement between the two is handled. Hideo Itami was put into the Andre The Giant memorial at WrestleMania and was made to look like a jobber by The Big Show as JBL excitedly shrieked “welcome to the big leagues” as if to say NXT is some sort of carnival show. A thought I've had would be to have an annual PPV event where under the title matches you could have an WWE vs NXT tournament. It would enable WWE to introduce the wider television audience to the talent in NXT that they feel are ready, or almost ready, to step up. Of the four, five or six matches one or two NXT stars go over and their reward a place in the main roster (and a decent push). It would also work as a storyline in NXT and in the build up they could have a tournament to decide who gets the WWE PPV spots. This isn't to say an exceptional talent couldn't be moved at another time, but this would just add some structure and planning, rather than the slapdash approach that WWE seems to live by with everything.
Neville, Zayn, Owens, Itami and Balor are the future of WWE. It would be a tragedy if their careers were not handled correctly and if staying a bit longer in NXT is going to prevent this, then Balor may be right after all.