WWE is debuting their NXT Rookies differently…and they’re doing it wrong


Source: wrestlinginc.com

Jacob Chaimovitch, Editor

I’ve been a WWE fan since around late 2013 and actively watching since Wrestlemania 32. I may not be a WWE History buff but I can still be a fan. As a fan, one of the most exciting things about WWE has been the debuts of NXT superstars being called up to either Raw or Smackdown, the excitement and debate of where they will land, and the huge pop (or cheer, for those who don’t know what that is) that they get when their music hits and they finally arrive. However, recently the call-ups have been uneventful and have sucked the energy that it had out of the moment. WWE is doing it wrong. Here are a few reasons why.

  • The call-ups are announced publicly before they actually happen

Take the 02/18/2019 episode of Raw for example. The COO of the WWE, Paul Levesque a.k.a Triple H, kicked off the show and talked about the elimination chamber, the first inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame for 2019, and ended by announcing that 4 new NXT stars would debut that night: Aleister Black, Ricochet, Tommaso Ciampa, and Johnny Gargano. Back in the day, there was something called speculation. Fans didn’t actually know when NXT superstars would debut, and to what brand. The fact that they are being announced beforehand kills the energy and surprise of them showing up in the first place.

  • The superstars wrestle on both brands before settling on one brand

This is another thing in particular that I don’t enjoy. The point of the second brand split (in effect July 19th, 2016) was to have certain WWE wrestlers exclusive to Raw and certain WWE wrestlers exclusive to Smackdown. When the NXT call-ups used to be called up, they were sent right to the brand they were supposed to go to. Now, they are wrestling for both brands and getting exposure to both before picking one. Why do we need to see the call-ups on both brands? Let’s take Nikki Cross, for example. She was one of the first call-ups under this new format. She first appeared on Smackdown as part of SAniTy and lost to Becky Lynch. Since then, she hasn’t made another appearance on Smackdown but has made three appearances as part of Raw as well as plenty of appearances on NXT (but we’ll get to that soon). It’s much easier to keep track of all the superstars if they just stay on one brand as the other superstars do.

  • Some superstars have done very little or nothing at all since being called up

A perfect example of this being Lacey Evans. Gimmicked as the “Lady of WWE”, all she has done since her call-up on December 17th, 2018 are dark matches (matches that aren’t shown on TV) and the Women’s Royal Rumble. Everything else she has done on WWE TV has literally been walking around. I’m serious. She isn’t even doing promos. She’s just walking around and walking back. Lacey Evans has shown real talent both in the ring and on the mic of NXT, so why isn’t that being utilized? Hopefully, there is a plan. She isn’t the only one being underused. Heavy Machinery and EC3 have also been underused since their debuts in the main roster.

  • The call-ups are still spending most of their time in NXT

They’ve officially been called up. They finally made it to the big leagues. So, why are they still being shown in NXT? In the history of call-ups in the WWE, I can only think of a few instances where an NXT call-up was sent back down to NXT: Kevin Owens as NXT champion feuding with John Cena and superstars like Sami Zayn and Antonio Cesaro who answered John Cena’s U.S. Title Open Challenge. That was temporary (except for Kevin Owens) and they went right back down when they were through. Now, the call-ups are getting some exposure to the red and blue brands, but are spending most of their time down in NXT. If you’re going to call them up, keep them up.

While there have been plenty of NXT call-ups so far (8 to be exact, 9 if you count Heavy Machinery as Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic) and there likely won’t be another wave of call-ups until after Fastlane on March 10, 2019, there still are some big names in NXT that have not gotten WWE exposure like The Velveteen Dream, Adam Cole, Kassius Ohno, Kairi Sane, and Shayna Baszler. So far, the recent wave of call-ups has been uneventful. Ben Waldo, a sophomore at SWHS, agrees. He goes on to mention that some NXT talent has been wasted, some have been depressing since their call-up, and “the debuts of Aleister Black, Ricochet, [Tommaso] Ciampa, and [Johnny] Gargano this week were pathetic and boring,”. WWE needs to change this. Otherwise, nothing will change and the excitement of a call-up will be lost for good.