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Opinion

Why Does WWE NXT Work?

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WWE NXT is the apple of many an internet fan’s eye, but there’s  more than one reason why. Abe has a look at the reasons!




Most of us know some of the obvious reasons why NXT consistently cranks out a great product. It’s a shorter weekly program so we’re not overexposed to talent. Only five pay-per-views per year means each feud has time to flourish. Those are the big ones. I’ve tried to dive deeper recently to find more. Let’s see if we can make sense of why NXT stands out from the rest.

It’s TV-PG Programming For Adults

If you’re a wrestling fan, you’ve probably heard at least one other wrestling fan say that they wish things went back to the way they were in the Attitude Era. You might have even said this yourself. I’m here to say that isn’t necessary. Although I can still find things to enjoy about Monday Night Raw, I understand why some fans have stopped tuning in. Raw may be stale to some fans but NXT is already producing the show you’re looking for. And it’s doing it without the blood or lingerie pillow fights of the past. Not promoting such things also means you can still enjoy it with your children.

NXT truly has its own personality. Even though I’m not familiar with the artists, the #NXTLoud soundtracks for TakeOver events aid in storytelling just as much as everything else. The live band performances at TakeOvers and NXT live events at music festivals form the identity of the brand more than I previously realized. It’s during the tapings at Full Sail as well. Those fans watch every aspiring wrestler grow into a star and you call tell they care. It’s a family. The more intimate setting also creates a different energy for each match. The events at Full Sail studios are essentially indy wrestling shows with world-class production crews.

It’s all of the little things that go into creating the show. If you ask me, I think Raw is a tad overproduced. That probably sounds weird. It’s the flagship for wrestling programming so it should look like it, right? Well, I’ve always been a fan of the NXT setup. As soon as the match starts, the crowd lights are turned down and all spotlights are on the ring. That’s what the fans paid to see, after all: the wrestlers. Maybe that’s just a me thing but I don’t think any of us were a fan of those big, colorful letters that used to appear on screen during promos. Those are just a couple examples. Sometimes less is more.



We’re Invested

During every episode of NXT, the writers make sure we care about each story. No segment is wasted and everything has a purpose. There are no “This is Your Life” skits or endless segments of Sami Zayn going through Bobby Lashley’s Instagram page. The hour restriction of material helps cut to the chase but I can’t even remember a time where social media bashed an NXT segment because it was dumb or boring. It’s not just the segments but NXT is billed as the future of the company for a reason.

We’ve seen numerous talents from NXT thrown to the wayside on the main roster but we’ve also seen Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt and Kevin Owens become world champions. And that’s just the men’s side. Pretty much the entire women’s roster on both Raw and Smackdown are NXT grads. Any person that walks through the curtain at Full Sail could be a future star. Dakota Kai actually debuted as Evie back in 2015 when she was the opponent in Nia Jax’s first match. Jason Jordan was being presented as just another great athlete until he struck gold with American Alpha. Roman Reigns wrestled his first NXT match under the name Leakee. Becky Lynch, Bayley, and Sasha Banks originally came off as average wrestlers before we watched them find their stride. We’ve seen the visible results of the formula working. This is why I’m equally concerned for 205 Live and NXT UK.

Before 205 Live, Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio were cruiserweight standouts that rose all the way to the main event picture. Paul London and Brian Kendrick were among WWE’s longest reigning tag team champions ever. However, it’s been over two years since the revival of the cruiserweight division and we haven’t seen a single 205 Live superstar make the jump to the main roster. Fans wanted to see Mustafa Ali answer Seth Rollins’ open challenge. I know I’d want to see Buddy Murphy rub elbows with the main roster. So I really don’t understand the strict separation. Guys like AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan are one missed meal away from being cruiserweights. In fact, Finn Balor is already under 205 pounds. I understand that they’re bigger stars but why can’t the 205 Live guys get a chance to expand their audience? Imagine if 205 Live resembled the prestige of NJPW’s junior heavyweight division. Finn Balor, Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Ricochet, Marty Scurll, Jyushin Thunder Liger, and many others were products of that very division.

Regarding the UK division, Pete Dunne is one of the company’s longest-reigning champions of all time. Fans want him to fight Brock Lesnar but the only time we’ve seen him with the main roster was when he was losing to Enzo Amore. So this is why I’m worried about NXT UK. I don’t want it to turn into another sideshow act where the talent never get to appear on television. Zack Gibson draws nuclear heat any time he even breathes on the microphone. Rhea Ripley and Toni Storm are the future of women’s wrestling. Don’t get me wrong. These shows are great opportunities to be presented in front of bigger audiences. But if they’re stuck there forever, then what’s the end goal?




We Have Other Wrestling To Watch

If you think about it, NXT needs Raw and Smackdown. Would you feel that one hour of NXT a week is enough if we didn’t have five hours of wrestling to watch every Monday and Tuesday? I know that many fans watch wrestling from other promotions there may be even more that are strictly WWE. Think about NXT as the dessert to your main roster meal. It’s sweeter, smaller, and easier to consume. By the time we’ve watched Raw, Smackdown, and NXT, we’ve found things we like from each show and are satisfied as a result. That’s what also allows NXT to have fewer TakeOver events. We may actually lose track of wrestling if there were only five NXT pay-per-views a year with nothing else in between.

I know Raw is an easy target. I get that their booking decisions are mind-boggling sometimes but writing three hours of television every week is an insane thought to me. The writers have to think about future feuds and shows while the entire locker room are performing in live events during the second half of the week. I write fantasy booking articles for this website where I try to book certain stories and events. It’s pretty challenging. Every booking article is its own puzzle. I can’t imagine what the WWE writer’s room is like. NXT, on the other hand, has the luxury of a little more breathing room.

The main roster and NXT are not the only beneficially mutual relationship in wrestling. Every promotion has their own style. Where Lucha Underground lacks in technical wrestling, it makes up for in violence and cinematic storytelling. New Japan Pro Wrestling doesn’t have the giant LED ramps of WWE but is basically a Match of the Year factory. If I’m watching other promotions for an extended period, I start to miss WWE. When Raw and Smackdown finish, I look forward to the change of pace that NXT brings. The promotions not only compete and work with each other but the wrestlers continue to learn and grow by wrestling all of over the world. I guess what I’m trying to say is that all wrestling is good wrestling.




What do you think?
Let us know on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!


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Opinion

King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!

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I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.


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Opinion

DeMarco’s Things I Learned From WWE Smackdown On FOX (June 17, 2022)

Greg DeMarco presents what he learned watching WWE Smackdown On FOX for June 17, 2022, featuring Matt Riddle, Vince McMahon, Pat McAfee, and more!

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Greg DeMarco presents what he learned watching WWE Smackdown On FOX for June 17, 2022, featuring Matt Riddle, Vince McMahon, Pat McAfee, and more!

WWE presented Smackdown on Friday night, June 17, 2022, from “Moneyapolis” featuring the “big fight feel” main event between Roman Reigns and Matt Riddle, with The Tribal Chief’s Undisputed WWE Universal Championship on the line. We also continued down the road to Money In The Bank in Vegas.

RK-Bro Is Effectively Done

The video package and all of Matt Riddle’s tributes to Randy Orton are just a little bit too much. Riddle does “too much” very well–in fact, it’s his character. But the amount of tribute being played to Randy Orton seems to be a set-up for Orton’s eventual return (whenever that might be) OPPOSITE Riddle. Maybe it’s in the Royal Rumble, maybe after.

Regardless of how it happens (and much of that has to do with his surgery and rehabilitation process), I think we are closer than ever to a heel Randy Orton opposing the babyface Matt Riddle.

Madcap Moss Is Undeniably Over

“Madcap just might be a guy.” – Pat McAfee

Pat McAfee knows what he’s talking about on this one–Madcap is indeed a guy. Riddick Moss always had the tools, just had injury issues. Since making his return to competition as Baron “Happy” Corbin’s sidekick, all Moss has done is prove his worth to WWE. He’s got a good look. He can cut a good promo. He’s vastly a underrated in-ring storyteller. And above all else, he has “it.”

WWE is always looking to add to the main event rotation, but it seems harder to crack that right now. But Madcap Moss has what it takes to do just that.

Montez Ford Is Gonna Be A (Solo) Star

The Street Profits are a fantastic act, and are insanely over. But Montez is a guy–a guy who the company can build around. While I feel bad for Angelo Dawkins, I (along with so many others) see Ford being a solo star.

We’re Getting Baron Corbin vs. Pat McAfee At SummerSlam

It’s the perfect set-up:

  • Baron Corbin is highly regarded within the organization as one of the safest workers around, a point that has been made by Randy Orton himself.
  • Pat McAfee is a big-moment superstar, and SummerSlam is the moment for him.

And for the record, I love it. While I an a big time purveyor of “Baron Corbin Sucks,” I know what he can do in the ring. And him vs. Pat McAfee would have Nashville rocking–and that is what McAfee in the ring is all about.

Vince McMahon Is Literally A Man Of Steel

If you have listened to any of Bruce Prichard’s podcasts, you know Vince McMahon believes you “don’t sell.” Not in the ring, but whenever the world has turned against you in any way–including lawsuits and investigations–you don’t sell it. You hold your head high, and live above it all.

That’s exactly what the boss did when opening up WWE Smackdown On FOX. It’s entirely possible that the plan changed along the way, and we were going to get “Mr. McMahon” at some point–but what happened is trademark Vince. Not the character, but the man. And if we expected anything else, we haven’t been paying attention.

Matt Riddle Is Now A Made Man

Matt Riddle and Roman Reigns delivered a pay per view (or premium live event…pick your poison) quality main event on WWE Smackdown on FOX, on a night where the world was likely watching. Tonight was his moment, and even in a loss, he delivered.

With a singular world champion–and one who likely isn’t losing anytime soon–it’s hard to say when Riddle could become a world champ. But the stipulation added to tonight’s match (which wasn’t discussed enough on air) means that Matt Riddle now cannot challenge Roman Reigns again (that’s how the graphic showed it). That screams a Money In The Bank or Royal Rumble win to me.

It’s also highly possible that a Seth Rollins wins the Money In The Bank briefcase, and his cash in splits the titles back up, opening the door for Riddle come next spring.

Either way–one fact remains true: Matt Riddle is now a made man, and doing it on his own.


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