The NXT big thing? Wrestling Royalty’s king of the ring Andy Spoors focuses on the conveyor belt of fresh talent forcing its way into the main events.
“Call me up Vince”. The now immortal words brazenly painted on the backside of the charismatic Velveteen Dream’s tights at NXT Takeover Brooklyn IV.
Anyone who has ever dreamed of stepping between the ropes and into the squared circle can relate to those four words. But some in the industry are closer than others to making them a reality.
Ever since its inception, NXT has fed the main roster shows, Raw and Smackdown, with fresh new talent. TV trained. Cult followings acquired. The conveyer belt churns out ready-made Superstar after ready-made Superstar.
There are many positives to this method but with the yellow and black brand attracting older, more hard-core fans, a new set of lofty expectations accompany tomorrow’s stars from the very beginning. This albatross doesn’t sit squarely on the shoulders of the talent, but the burden is shared with WWE’s creative and management teams.
Such is the powerful nature of social media, previously unreachable and unknown members of WWE staff are now subjected to demands for favourite Superstars to receive a push for titles.
One common complaint from fans is that talent called up from NXT to the main roster will be ruined by micro management and changes to characters or names. Is there any substance to these claims?
It is a completely subjective topic of course. How can you fully measure if someone has been pushed the way each fan wants? Sure, Andrade Cien Almas is now simply Andrade, Otis Dozovic and Tucker Knight became Otis and Tucker, Apollo Crews has been just Apollo and back to Apollo Crews again.
Call ups compared to championships could be one route to gauge how likely talent are to ‘succeed’ on the big stage.
So far there have been 23 ‘Takeover’ (NXT’s PPV equivalent) events in the NXT history books that have featured 108 competitors in (dark or main card) matches. To start, not everyone that has performed on a Takeover event has moved to the main roster for a match.
In fact, a huge 74% (80 Superstars) of talent have made the leap from featuring on a Takeover to having a match on Raw, Smackdown or a WWE PPV.
Moving from the small NXT arena at Orlando’s Full Sail University campus to the bright lights and cameras of weekly worldwide television is one thing. Capturing gold in the most famous wrestling company in the world is a whole different universe. Twenty-six – or 32.5% – of those making the leap have held at least one title or more (Raw, Smackdown or Cruiserweight).
Those statistics, interestingly, include four of NXT’s current crop and four of the biggest names for that matter. Aleister Black, Ricochet, Tomasso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano all made their Raw and Smackdown debuts last week and look set to continue for the foreseeable future. It was something of a shock to see these four, in particular, make their bow – the conveyer belt seemingly speeding up to help a beleaguered main roster.
In response to the aforementioned plea from Velveteen Dream, Triple H quipped: “There are a couple different phone calls you could get from Vince McMahon. One you want to get, one you really don’t want to get. So, you have to be careful when you say, ‘Vince give me a call.’ Because you never know what kind of call you’re going to get.”
With nearly a third of Takeover featured stars receiving at least one title run so far, at least one of the four recent call ups will taste gold.
As for the others? It’s up to them to decide if they want to be a deleted number or a speed dial in the McMahon list of contacts…