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Back in February, WWE's black and gold brand celebrated its 11th birthday, but the product fans tune into every week looks very different from the show that debuted on Syfy back in 2010. 

Since its inception, NXT has been an ever-evolving show with the channel, format, and especially the talent constantly shifting. Change is the name of the game for WWE's third brand, but right now, NXT is in the middle of reinventing itself yet again, and moving to Tuesday is only one part of that. 

The Evolution of NXT

NXT season 2

The early days of NXT are unrecognizable with the show that Triple H and Co put on each week live on USA.  The first five seasons of NXT were a mix of reality television and pro wrestling with more in common with Tough Enough than it did with the current show. That isn't to say that early NXT was no good at all, the first season lead to the creation of the Nexus and gave us our first taste of Daniel Bryan in WWE in an angle that started his long-running feud with The Miz, but most would agree that the show today is more consistently entertaining. 

Following the fifth season of NXT, the show shifted tone and format into what is more or less the same format as a standard wrestling show. While the original NXT already featured talent from Florida Championship Wrestling, the new NXT began to feature even more talent from the developmental territory and sporadic appearances from main roster talents. NXT would quickly absorb FCW and become the main developmental brand for WWE, with the weekly show being used to feature the biggest up-and-coming talents in the developmental system. This era gave us huge main roster names like Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Kevin Owens and the foundational members of the WWE women's roster, such as the four horsewomen and Alexa Bliss. But after only a few years, NXT began to shift in subtle ways.

NXT stopped being the home to developmental talents and started to feature some of the best matches that WWE had to offer. This era gave way to the black and gold brand's major pillars, such as Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Shayna Baszler, and The Undisputed Era. During this time, NXT began to feature talents that had cut their teeth in promotions like PWG, NJPW, and ROH (or the world of MMA in the case of Baszler) training in the style of wrestling that had become popular with the hardcore fans of wrestling. This style and sports-based presentation carried NXT from the mid-2010s into the early days of the "Wednesday Night War," but it was the direct competition that started to force NXT to begin to evolve again. 

The NXT of the Future

The Way NXT

The biggest issue that people had with the way NXT had been throughout the mid-2010s and into early 2020 was that NXT didn't develop characters. This was an issue that not only turned away potential fans who were accustomed to the over-the-top narratives of Raw and SmackDown, but it led to a good number of lackluster call-ups. So often, a wrestler who had put on five-star matches at TakeOver events would show up on SmackDown only to fall down to the lower mid-card because they couldn't distinguish themselves from every other "badass fighter" that had come from NXT. 

Over the last 18 months, NXT has really begun to focus on the stories that they are telling in and out of the ring and develop characters that could stand out on any wrestling show. Guys like Cameron Grimes and Dexter Lumis have created characters that make them stand out, while others like Xia Li, Johnny Gargano, and Candice LeRae have embraced the new direction that the brand is taking. NXT tells a story throughout their show in a way that compliments the still excellent in-ring work. 

In the same way that the mid-2010s built on the developmental years of NXT, this new era is taking the best things bout later NXT and building on it. 

What To Expect From NXT Going Forward

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I want to start off by saying the future of NXT looks bright, even with their so-called loss in the Wednesday Night War. Moving to Tuesday allows NXT to be seen on its own and moves it away from being compared directly to a show that it shouldn't be compared to. Changing the night that NXT airs won't get rid of the show's massive strides it has taken recently. 

I imagine that this new era of NXT will continue to focus on telling compelling stories that compliment the in-ring work as well as elevating the rising stars of WWE. This era isn't the final stage of development for NXT either. In a few years, we will likely be looking back on 2021 as a bygone time totally different from the NXT that we know in that day, and that is the wonderful thing about wrestling. 

What do you think? How would you like to see NXT grow? Let me know by tweeting at me @robbydeshazer!

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