Wednesday nights are my favorite night of the workweek, and that is because two of the best wrestling shows in the business are on. NXT and AEW are consistently putting out stellar content week after week, but that doesn't mean that they are totally infallible. This week I will be looking at both NXT and AEW and being brutally honest. It is time for me to remove my rose-colored glasses and talk about the worst parts of the Wednesday Night War, but don't worry, next week, we will be talking about what they are doing right.
We'll start with WWE's mid-week offering, NXT; the black and yellow brand has been running in more or less its current format for nearly 10 years and shows no signs of stopping. That being said, just because there WWE hasn't changed much, it doesn't mean that the show can't be improved. Let's dive into the 5 things that NXT is doing wrong and how I think they can be fixed.
5. NXT Tag Team Division
It is no secret that WWE doesn't have the strongest tag team division overall, and NXT is no exception to that rule. What the brand does have going for it is the annual Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Once a year, it seems like tag teams might have a renaissance on NXT, only for the tag team championships and the division to fall by the wayside just a few weeks after the conclusion of the tournament.
Wrestling fans love tag team wrestling, and it is a fantastic way to showcase the vast amount of talent on the NXT roster, but for some reason, it just isn't a priority for the brand. The simple solution is just to elevate the tag titles and have them be defended more often. The current champions, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch, have only defended the titles twice since gaining them in October of last year. Let's hope that the tag team division gets a little more love after the Dusty Classic this year.
4. Women's Title Scene
I want to be clear about this, the NXT women's division is stellar, and Io Shirai is a fantastic champion. That being said, it does not seem like there is anyone on NXT who is at the point where they could reasonably challenge Io for the title. As of writing this article, Io is set to defend her title in a triple threat match against Toni Storm and Mercedes Martinez at the upcoming TakeOver, and while Toni and Mercedes are both fantastic wrestlers, this really does feel like another place holder match until NXT can build up the true successor to the title.
In the second half of 2020, Io had an excellent feud with Candice LeRae over the belt, but even though they gave us some stellar matches, most fans knew that Candice would not be going home with the gold in any of their bouts. Io Shirai is one of the most untouchable champions in WWE right now, but NXT needs to build a new women's star to take her place.
3. NXT Still Feels Developmental
Despite being told that NXT is the true third brand of WWE for almost two years now, it is really impossible to see it as anything other than the developmental brand. There is no denying that most new WWE signings will make appearances on NXT before going to either Raw or SmackDown. And while a few acts such as Finn Balor, Breezango, and Ember Moon have gone back to NXT after having runs on the main roster, it has not done much to shift the perception of NXT as a developmental brand.
NXT is already working toward fixing this perception by keeping huge names like Tommaso Ciampa, The Undisputed Era, and Johnny Gargano on the brand longer than talent typically stays on NXT. Still, it will take more than just a few stars to really establish NXT as a standalone brand. WWE's recent purchase of EVOLVE could also lead to that brand being established as the official developmental brand of WWE and allow NXT to move on.
It is important to note that this perception has little to no effect on the actual content or the quality of the wrestling; it just seems to be holding NXT back from achieving their full potential.
2. Karrion Kross
I don't think that it is Kross's fault that the injury that took him out of commission for a few months took away the mystique of the character. The issue is that NXT wants to continue to book him as an unstoppable force. When Kross first appeared in NXT last year, he was a monster, and he felt inevitable, but after being put on the sidelines by Keith Lee following their title match at TakeOver XXX, it really felt like he wasn't a threat anymore.
Once again, none of that is Kross's fault, but it's an unfortunate truth. Sometimes these things happen, and the best thing that NXT can do is to acknowledge it and find a solution. Pushing forward as though nothing happened is not the right answer in this situation, and I can only see this ending with the fans turning on Kross and calling him overrated. NXT just needs to make some adjustments to the character and go from there, but I suspect they will just continue to push forward as planned.
1. Not Enough Cross Brand Content
Ok, so NXT has an opportunity to get to work on this issue. 2021 Royal Rumble winner and WWE Hall of Famer Edge will be appearing on this week's NXT, and that is a step in the right direction. If NXT is the third brand of WWE, it needs to be treated like that. The women's tag titles need to make more appearances on Wednesday nights, and legends should make surprise appearances to give the rub to new talent, etc.
The quarterly brand to brand invitation should apply to NXT as well. How awesome would it be to tune into NXT and find out that Becky Lynch or Rey Mysterio are just stopping by to have a one-off match with someone like Dakota Kai or Santos Escobar? What if Johnny Gargano challenged Big E for the Intercontinental Title on SmackDown just because he could? There are so many possibilities for WWE to embrace here, but it seems like they still treat the brand as a separate entity, even internally.
Edge and Lucha House Party are two recent examples of steps in the right direction, but if WWE wants to go all-in on NXT (which they should), it is time to open the flood gates for the crossovers and dream matches.
So there we have 5 things that NXT is doing wrong. If you're worried that I am too negative this week, please come back and see what WWE's black and gold brand is doing right. In the meantime, feel free to follow me on Twitter and talk to me about wrestling there @robbydeshazer
While you're here at Wrestling News World, why not become one of our Premium Members for exclusive backstage news? You can even start off with a 30 day free trial!