NXT allegedly moving to USA Network has brought up a lot of questions. With the help of the internet & things in my own mind I think I have a few answers.
Why Do It?
After kicking it around a bit on Twitter, I think we have an answer. Namely, NXT is more valuable as a TV product than a WWE Network offering. The weekly show isn’t among the highest viewed show on the Network now, so contrary to what you may think there isn’t a large contingent of people with network subscriptions who watch NXT weekly but don’t watch Raw or Smackdown. On the other hand an NXT special that was on USA Network a couple of years ago got a million viewers on USA, a number that they would love to have on a Wednesday night. Right now USA has one show in the top 50 on Wednesday night, and that show (Suits) is ending now. And it only has one other show in the Top 150 for Wednesday. So like TNT with AEW’s show, USA is in a position where anything is an improvement over what they’ll have to offer (TNT has zero shows in the Top 150 for Wednesday, by the way) on Wednesday night. And while there will be some potential viewers lost to AEW, that’s going to go both ways, and both shows will be bolstered by DVR viewings (you can expect both companies to tout the Live + 7 numbers when it comes time to discuss viewership numbers).
But what about the Network?
“I mainly have the Network for NXT” is something I’ve seen people say on Twitter, but like I said earlier the viewership numbers for the NXT weekly show do not support that. Yes, the Takeover shows do great but that’s it. And those are still going to be on the Network so the idea that losing weekly NXT TV is a big thing is kinda false. Now those people who don’t have cable will have a problem watching it but it more than likely will be on Hulu so that shouldn’t be an issue. And as far as what could take the place of NXT’s spot on the schedule, there’s Evolve, Progress, WWE affiliated indie shows, or some kind of reworked version of 205 Live should it continue on. So there’s no shortage of content to work with.
And now the million dollar question…….
WHAT ABOUT VINCE???
This has got to be the stupidest take that has been thrown out there since the discussion became a real thing, that somehow Vince McMahon was going to ‘ruin’ NXT if it went to TV because he and Kevin Dunn would reportedly be more involved in the production. Seriously, no I mean really now, come the hell on. I even took to asking just what exactly would Vince do to ‘ruin’ it, and the only answer I got was that he’d make it like Raw and Smackdown. Of course these are the same people who, if you were to ask them just what’s so bad about Raw and Smackdown would just say that it’s sucks and that’s why they haven’t watched it in years.
For one, Vince’s ‘involvement’ would likely be on the TV production side. NXT as it stands right now is not up to the standards of a weekly TV show on broadcast cable. It’s a step above ROH for sure, but it looks pretty low budget compared to Raw and Smackdown. And that matters whether you think so or not. I showed an ROH TV show to someone who’d only watched WWE and the first thing they said was ‘that looks bootleg’. And if we’re gonna keep it 100, it wouldn’t shock me in the least if some people passed on NXT as it is now for that same reason. The other good thing is that having Vince around more would mean him getting more looks at the people there, which can in turn make for an easier transition to the main roster once they get called up. You do want that, don’t you?
But if you’re worried that Vince is going to ‘take over’ NXT (see what I did there?), I have to ask what’s so great about the NXT weekly TV now? Yes, every few weeks there’s a really good match, even a great one. But if you’re going to be totally honest you’ll admit that Raw and Smackdown have those, too. You worried Vince is going to rewrite everyone’s promos at the last minute? That might be an improvement in some instances. I mean yeah, there is some good promo work n NXT from some people but a lot of it is just adequate. The whole ‘scripted promo’ thing is a convenient internet boogeyman that’s been blown way out of proportion and I bet the percentage of bad promos in 2019 isn’t much different than it was back in the day when we thought everyone came up with all their own stuff. The idea that everything on NXT’s TV is so awesome right now and that Vince would just mess it all up is a joke.
So why do you really want it to stay as is?
Other than human nature, or not having cable, what’s your issue? You can disagree but I don’t think the quality of the show is going to be affected. I don’t think Vince is going to force Hunter to put a bunch of 300 pound guys at the top and squash all the smaller guys or run a succession of blondes as the women’s champion. No, I think the hidden problem is that right now NXT has been a cool kids club, and that part of the charm and allure to said cool kids is the myth that Vince has nothing to do with it therefore it’s somehow better. And I think that’s nonsense – first of all, Vince approves everything that gets broadcast and second of all, the TV is not better than Raw and Smackdown no matter what anyone on the internet tells you. No, NXT’s weird existence just allows you to not feel like a square when you’re surrounded by indie wrestling loyalists who ask ‘how does anyone still watch WWE?’ and if Evil Vince gets involved any kind of way that illusion is gone up in smoke.
Well, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this…..ok, who am I kidding, I’m not sorry, but change is good. It will look better, it will allow for more of NXT’s roster to get on TV, and it just might draw a bigger audience. So please save all of your ‘the end is near’ takes until you actually watch the new version, ok?