Oh, what a difference a week can make to the NXT/WWE Universe.
Since fully taking over as the EVP of Global Talent Strategy and Development/chief creative mind of the WWE Universe ahead of the penultimate edition of smackdown before summer slam, Paul “Triple H” Levesque has brought wrestling back to television, nixed the 24/7 Championship from weekly television, and… oh yeah, re-debuted two former NXT Champions on WWE television to take part in the main event picture alongside the likes of Bianca Belair, Drew McIntyre, and Roman Reigns. Factor in the elevation of Tommaso Ciampa from The Miz’s mizion to a legit challenger for Bobby Lashley’s United States Championship, and the NXT pipeline has been better than ever, with black and gold alumni suddenly in high demand.
Folks called Levesque the Booker of the Year, theorized about how Johnny Gargano would debut next, and most importantly of all, tuned in to NXT to see how the next crop of WWE talents look like, especially now that there’s a very real chance they actually get elevated to the main roster on either the red or blue brand to become an important part of the “Premium Live Event” picture.
Friends, for the first time since NXT went to weekly television, there is synergy between its booking and the raw/SmackDown booking, which is very good news for all parties involved.
NXT: 649,000 and 0.15
– Bryan Alvarez (@bryanalvarez) August 4, 2022
Fans are tuning in to see what happens next on NXT.
Once upon a time, fans waited with bated breath on every Thursday afternoon to see which show, NXT or AEW Dynamite, would win the rating battle both in overall viewership and within the 18-49 demo. Fans of each promotion had their memes ready to celebrate if their preferred company won, their excuses ready if their preferred company lost, and watched as Bryan Alvarez got the numbers in, tossed them onto Twitter like a raw New York Strip into the ocean, and then quickly turned off his phone to avoid the absolute wave of out-for-blood social media sharks coming his way. It was semi-fun, semi-stressful, but ultimately, it was shortlived, as Vince McMahon pulled the plug on the Wednesday Night Wars at the behest of USA Network and officially moved the show to Tuesdays in order to generate more viewers than they were getting when going head-to-head with Tony Khan’s company.
And yet, as the WWE started/continued to purge their roster of talent for the sake of “budget cuts,” fans sort of stopped watching NXT with the same passion they had in the past. Call it a combination of performers like The Undisputed Era – minus Roderick Strong – leaving town and the promotion doing NXT talents like Keith Lee, Hit Row, and Karrion Kross dirty when they were elevated to the main roster, but NXT viewership dipped down into the half a million range pretty consistently, with few even hardcore WWE fans viewing it as must-watch weekly television due to its disconnect with what was happening on raw or SmackDown.
Fast forward to the first NXT following summer slamand 2.0‘s viewership hit a pretty darn good number, with 649,000 people tuning into the USA Network to see what would happen next, up 8.2 percent from the week prior, according to The Wrestling Observer. But why? Were fans excited to see Carmelo Hayes wrestle Nathan Frazer for the North American Title? Or how about The D’Angelo Family taking a shot at The Creed Brothers’ NXT Tag Team Championship match? Did they want to watch Solo Siakoa take on Von Wagner in a Falls Count Anywhere match? Or maybe the main event, where Katana Chance and Kayden Carter beat Ivy Nile and Taum Paxley, Valentina Feroz and Yulisa Leon, and Toxic Attraction for the vacant NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship?
In a way, it wasn’t any of those matches specifically, but it might just have been all of them combined, as who knows, maybe Hayes will be challenging for the United States Championship in the not-too-distant future. Maybe Toxic Attraction will be taking part in the forthcoming tournament for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships. Maybe they know that Siakoa is basically the “Uso in Waiting” and want to scout out how he will fit in as part of The Bloodline down the line.
why? Because all of those options are now very much possible for the future, whether that comes in the next few weeks, months, or even years. NXT is truly a developmental territory for WWE proper, and fans can watch the show knowing that the performers they come to love will remain more or less the same characters when they get the call-up, all thanks to Triple H.