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The EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING is back from the Retirement Home for another column exclusively here at LordsofPain.net. I know, “I’m the Brett Favre of Wrestling Columnists”, I have had “more retirements than Terry Funk”. I’m a hypocrite, blah blah blah blah blah. Folks, I’ve been a Pro Wrestling fan since late 1988… It’s been my favorite form of entertainment since I watched Sting vs. Ric Flair on tape at my Uncle’s house for Clash of the Champions #1. On top of that, I have this great megaphone here at LordsofPain.net to express my wrestling opinions to many longtime readers… When you have a 2019 year FULL of wrestling topics… I can’t resist. Sorry.
NOW – Let me get something straight for today’s column. You know, for the usual Comments Section haters who ONLY read my column titles and assume what the column is about without reading it… I WANT NXT TO SUCCEED. I love what Triple H has done with that NXT promotion, particularly when faced with various talent raids to the WWE RAW and Smackdown brands. Triple H has repeatedly replenished the NXT roster with talent that fits his vision and I really believe in the current NXT roster right now. In fact, I just wrote a recent column about NXT where I basically declared them the WINNER of the recent “wars” between WWE/NXT/AEW/NWA/ROH/Impact which you can read by Clicking Here.
Thus, I’m NOT here to bash the NXT promotion.
I’m here to bash Vince McMahon, actually, for his repeat mishandling of talent that isn’t his…
Let me repeat that for you Comments section haters who just read the subject line and then scroll down to the bottom to attack.
I declared NXT as the #1 promotion in my LAST COLUMN.
Let me repeat that one more time… NXT is my favorite promotion. I don’t want it to fail… This column is very specific about how Vince McMahon may ruin the wrestlers or the promotion to satisfy his usual “Big & Tall” tastes and preferences. I’ve been covering Vince for 21+ years here at LordsofPain.net and have been following the WWE closely since late 1988, most of Vince McMahon Jr.’s tenure as the WWE boss.
History often repeats itself and I’m always quoting the George Santayana quote of those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.
Vince McMahon has had multiple “Invasion” angles of promotions and factions that he DID NOT create… And how did they end up again?
Extreme Championship Wrestling invades RAW – Early 1997
The ECW promotion “invaded” RAW one evening and several wrestlers had a few matches afterward with the promotion during early 1997. RAW was at its rock bottom on ratings and when a few ECW wrestlers created a few disturbances at live WWE events before this, Vince tried to invite the promotion to participate on RAW. The 1 show where ECW was heavily involved was very interesting but it did not translate into ratings at the time. Thus, Vince discarded them and just used them as sort of a developmental territories for wrestlers he could not get over (Al Snow, Brackus, etc.). Instead, Vince McMahon and Creative Team member Vince Russo began to swipe the Adult Themed tone. One year later, WWE was challenging to be #1 again.
World Championship Wrestling Invasion – Summer of 2001
Complete disaster. WWE’s initial plan following WCW’s closure was to actually have a WCW show on Monday Nights with former WCW performers and WWE would have Smackdown on the UPN Network (Vince was really high on that Smackdown brand back then, too, on Network television). When Vince McMahon saw the early matches of WCW’s talent roster that he purchased from Time Warner (excluded the very top guys), he wasn’t impressed. After 1 trial night, he completely scrapped plans and had ECW wrestlers on WWE’s roster join WCW for a dual invasion angle led by both Shane and Stephanie McMahon. By November, it was over when Team WWE defeated the ECW/WCW Alliance. With time, many of those WCW talents were quickly gone until the WWE finally decided to pay its top former stars (Hogan, Nash, Hall, Steiner, and Goldberg) during 2003-2004.
New World Order – 2002
Vince McMahon brought the NWO in before Wrestlemania 18 to “poison” the WWE which now had Ric Flair as the part-owner. The original trio of the NWO with Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hulk Hogan were back in the WWE and had their sights set for some dream matches at Wrestlemania 18. We had Hogan vs. the Rock and Scott Hall vs. Steve Austin. NWO lost both matches… Hall was reportedly supposed to steal a win from Austin at Wrestlemania 18 but plans were changed during the weekend. The motivation for Hall was gone and he reverted back to some personal demons thereafter. Hogan would soon leave the WWE and return as a babyface thanks to his Wrestlemania 18 match with the Rock. NWO tried to add other WWE wrestlers as new members but it was already over. WWE tanked the great WCW creation in just 1 month!
Extreme Championship Wrestling, Again – Reformed 2006
During 2005 and 2006, the WWE gave Paul Heyman the chance to have 2 ECW reunion shows and the featured many top ECW guys from the past mixed in with a few WWE names. They were fantastic shows… The hype for One Night Stand 2006 was so big that Vince McMahon wanted to create a 3rd brand, in addition to RAW and Smackdown, as ECW with Paul Heyman in charge. In just 6 months, however, Paul Heyman was OUT. Many of the older ECW talents signed were also out, especially after RVD and Sabu had their incident. The rest of the ECW oldtimers were released with time and it soon became yet another stale WWE brand.
NXT Invasion 2010 – The Nexus
In one of the coolest angles in WWE history, at least for one night, the first class of the rebranded NXT Developmental territory invaded RAW and unleashed holy Hell on the wrestlers in the match (John Cena and CM Punk) while attacking the announcers at ringside too. It was amazing… And then it fell apart quickly. For one, Daniel Bryan choked out the ring announcer with his tie and WWE Corporate was somehow offended. Bryan was released (or suspended) for that incident. The rest of the Nexus basically became John Cena’s punching bags for the rest fo the year. The only good that it served was by introducing 2 new members in Curtis Axel and “Husky” Harris, the latter who became Bray Wyatt, while being taken over by CM Punk as its new leader. WWE blew a major opportunity to put over a new group with new wrestlers to push and present to its fans during 2010.
NXT Call-ups from 2012-2019
Has anybody from Triple H’s NXT promotion ever made it big under Vince McMahon’s rule? The Shield is the ONLY example but I’d argue that Creative has repeatedly messed up Seth Rollins’s pushes and Dean Ambrose was completely disregarded once the Shield broke-up (hence why he is in AEW). Roman Reigns, yes, but Roman was hand picked by Vince McMahon as a talent and handpicked by Vince to join the Shield. Triple H did NOT recruit him, as he signed when John Laurinaitis was still in charge. Triple H took over as the Talent guy during mid 2012… Since then, what do we have to show for it? Every top guy from NXT has joined the WWE roster but became second fiddle to longtime stars already in place (Lesnar, Orton, Cena) or were just punching bags for Vince’s Roman Reigns pushes.
And I’ll go further on this idea…
Territory systems – 1980s
Besides Hulk Hogan, whom the WWE employed previously anyway… Who from the territory system was pushed to be a top star? You could easily argue Roddy Piper but Vince McMahon was constantly trying to have him lose to Hulk Hogan. It was Piper’s refusal that actually kept Roddy alive. Top stars from other promotions like Curt Hennig, Junkyard Dog, and many others were brought in to fill the WWE’s midcard or tag team division. Certainly, it made for a LOADED midcard during the 1980s but the top was very thin with Hulk Hogan feuding with only 1 top guy at a time.
My POINT is that if Vince McMahon did NOT create the gimmick, create the storyline, or make the wrestler a star previously… He struggles to push them as a top guy or to take the “invasion” seriously.
REMEMBER – Vince McMahon was actually hesitant on pushing “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as a top guy during 1996-1997 despite the Austin 3:16 shirt being his top merchandise seller by a significant margin. Because again, Steve Austin came from WCW… Ditto for Mick Foley, though his creative control over revamping the character peaked his interest. He LOVED the Undertaker only because he knew that WCW misused him and Vince to remake him. Thus, the Undertaker seriously has a 29 year career with the WWE as a top guy.
You can tell how much Vince McMahon LOVES his Son-in-Law Triple H because he’s letting him burn through WWE money to operate the NXT promotion in the way that HHH sees fit. Vince was constantly breathing down the necks of Jim Ross and John Laurinaitis by giving forcing them to sign and train big & tall stiffs that Vince wanted to sign. Vince is much more hands-off with Triple H as his EVP of Talent and operator of NXT. Want to spend millions on a training center? Sure… Sign a bunch of Indy wrestlers under 6 feet tall and push them as your top guys? Sure, go ahead!
But don’t expect big pushes for those NXT wrestlers when they join the main WWE roster…
If you just look at the in-ring photo where all of the NXT were in the ring with Triple H, there were only a handful of guys who could come close to looking at Triple H’s 6’4 height eye-to-eye. When Adam Cole wrestled a 6’1″ Seth Rollins, Rollins seriously appeared to have 4-5 inches on the guy.
And that’s the problem, folks… It’s easier to find guys who look like the Undisputed Era than it is to find guys who look like Seth Rollins or Triple H. I don’t mean to single the Undisputed Era out BUT they presently hold all of the NXT Titles. Let’s look at the height of each guy, shall we?
Adam Cole – Billed at 6’0″ (I have my doubts on that)
Bobby Fish – Billed at 5’11”
Kyle O’Reilly – Billed at 6’0″ (more doubts)
Roderick Strong – Billed at 5’10”
And each of the guys should qualify for 205 Live with their weight. I don’t what is suggested on their billed weight (Adam Cole at 210, no way!), they look like Cruiserweights! Each of them…
So if a regular, everyday guy like me and many other fans see their height and weight… What about Vince McMahon, the guy who loves wrestlers tall and thick with muscle mass?
I’m afraid that the WWE is quickly burning through this “NXT Invasion”, too, as seen already by the WWE Survivor Series 2019 card:
– Becky Lynch vs. Bayley vs. Shayna Baszler
– Viking Raiders vs. the New Day vs. Undisputed Era
– Team RAW vs. Team Smackdown vs. Team NXT – Both Women’s and Men’s
Completely over-exposing NXT in such a short time. In my opinion, there should NOT be an “Invasion”. The WWE should have used the “Mechanical Problems” Smackdown as a means to advertise NXT and be done with it. A full blown invasion?
WWE needs to realize that not all of their fans like NXT… When the WWE had their weekly Top 10 lists of viewership on the WWE Network, the weekly NXT show was either at the bottom of the Top 10 or not even on it… Secondly, NXT receives under 900,000 viewers per week with much lower YouTube views. To thus advertise them as your “minor league” for years and then suddenly push them as an equal brand should create confusion among your fans.
So far, here’s how the numbers look on the viewership with the “NXT Invasion”:
– Smackdown 11/1: 2.5 million viewers, up from 2 weeks ago at around 2.4 million.
– Smackdown 11/8: 2.6 million viewers, up again!
That’s good. And the 11/8 Smackdown was taped and had limited exposure to NXT because it was taped in a foreign country.
– RAW 11/4: 2.1 million, just up a mere 3,000 viewers from previous week. That followed up the Crown Jewel event, too.
Ouch, that’s NOT good!
– NXT 11/6: 813,000 viewers, UP from 580,000 the previous week.
That’s an improvement, though the overall viewership number is still weak in my opinion. They did, however, close the gap with AEW though I’d argue that AEW’s viewership numbers are coming down to them.
The RAW number has me concerned, though it was up against a major NFL Monday Night Football match-up between Dallas and New York… BUT, we didn’t see Football as a competitive threat during the Monday Night Wars when viewership for wrestling was seriously pushing above 5-6 million per week.
If you give Vince McMahon an inch, he’ll take a mile… Covering Vince McMahon for 21+ years now as Mr. Tito and over 30 years now as a wrestling fan, I could see him scapegoating NXT for that LOW RAW rating following the WWE Crown Jewel event.
History tells us repeatedly that (a) Vince dislikes anything that HE didn’t create or influence and (b) he dislikes smaller wrestlers.
My prediction: Team WWE will obliterate Team NXT and then he’ll raid the NXT roster through early 2020. And of course, he’ll poorly use each of those NXT call-ups.
History suggests that’s exactly what he’ll do…
And when that happens, All Elite Wrestling (AEW) better be ready fo an influx of free agents.
Because history also suggests that it’s the discarded unappreciated wrestlers from another promotion that causes the big momentum shifts. It wasn’t so much that Dean Ambrose (or Jon Moxley) left the WWE, it was about who else BESIDES Moxley would bolt the WWE and join the AEW promotion with him.
Vince McMahon better be careful about over-exposing NXT on his WWE shows and also treating their “Invasion” like previous ones of entities for which he did not create.
Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.
So just chill… Until the next episode!
Play my Pro Wrestling themed Mario Maker 2 courses on the Nintendo Switch:
Super Wrestling Bros: 0H6-9HT-S5G
WWE Royal Rumble: SDH-JC2-HFG
WWE Elimination Chamber: P3B-5DJ-91G
WCW World War 3: BT4-W1Y-HRG
Extreme Championship Wrestling: 42J-4GT-W3G
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