Over the past few years, one of the hottest topics in sports entertainment, has been WWE’s “developmental brand,” known as WWE NXT. Before we get to this game-changing announcement, let’s give a little background on the NXT brand.
In 2010, WWE introduced the world to a brand new seasonal TV show known as NXT. When it originally debuted, it was intended to be a competition in search of WWE’s next big “breakout star.” Over the course of its many seasons spanning from 2010-2011, the show featured superstars such as Byron Saxton, Bray Wyatt, Titus O’Neil, Ryback, Wade Barrett, Darren Young, Daniel Bryan, Alex Riley, Curtis Axel, and more. Many of whom are still a part of the WWE to this day.
The program had a bit of a game show type vibe to it. The whole premise of the show was that “the rookies” would be paired up with “the pros” from the main roster with the pros serving as mentors as seen in the image above. The Rookies would compete in a series of matches and ridiculous competitions to try and determine who the next big breakout star would be in WWE. Throughout the season, competitors would get eliminated until there was only one superstar left standing. After about five seasons, WWE NXT had eventually phased out of WWE TV Programming and was not seen or heard of in quite some time.
In May of 2012, The WWE announced that it would be creating a brand new partnership with Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. Spearheaded by HHH, This new partnership with Full Sail allowed students of the university’s entertainment-focused degree programs, including Film, Show Production, Digital Arts and Design, Internet Marketing and Entertainment Business, to have the opportunity to gain real-world experience working with WWE to produce NXT. At the same time, WWE used NXT as a way to train new talent and develop their crafts to prepare them for the main roster and live television. WWE planted a flag for their NXT tapings on campus at the university’s live event venue known as “Full Sail Live.” The NXT tapings became open to Full Sail University students, staff, faculty and the general public. All proceeds from ticket and merchandise sales went to a scholarship fund for students enrolled at or planning to attend Full Sail University.
Following the announcement made by Full Sail and WWE, events began to sell out. One taping after another, Full Sail Live was packed from front to back. People from all over the community came to attend these tapings and be a part of the electricity that was NXT. When they first started, each taping would feature a special guest appearance from a main roster superstar. To name a few, NXT welcomed the likes of John Cena, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Ryback, Sheamus, Cody Rhodes, Kane and more. The brand was managed by WWE Hall of Famer “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. The NXT roster featured some major prospect superstars like Seth Rollins, Big E Langston, Roman Reigns, Bo Dallas, The Wyatt Family, Paige, Emma, Adrian Neville, The Ascension and more. They built a foundation that would later pole-vault them into a much bigger position.
With the success of the Full Sail partnership, NXT began to grow. Sold-out crowd after sold-out crowd, the brand continued to develop. As time progressed, the production quality of the show increased seeing new electronics added, visuals becoming better and better, merchandise for the brand, and more. In July of 2013, WWE announced that they would be building a groundbreaking new facility for developmental purposes known as “The WWE Performance Center” not far from Full Sail University. This facility allowed WWE to expand their developmental ability by providing state of the art training outside of the NXT brand itself.
In January of 2014, WWE announced the launch of the WWE Network. The WWE Network is a 24/7 streaming service with exclusive LIVE content and an on-demand library that fans can access anywhere at any time as well as on any device. Following this announcement, it did not take long for NXT to jump on board. Shortly after the launch of the WWE Network was officially announced, WWE announced that NXT would be hosting their first-ever PPV event in the brand’s history known as “NXT: ArRival” in February of 2014. NXT: ArRival was set to take place at Full Sail Live and was broadcasted LIVE on the WWE Network.
Following the success and momentum of NXT: ArRival, WWE did not stop there. Months later, NXT hosted it’s second LIVE PPV event known as “NXT: Takeover.” It did not take long for the NXT brand to soar in popularity. Attendance for the event had surpassed the last so much so that they had people watching outside of Full Sail Live from a jumbo TV screen. From that point on, NXT continued to have great success as they expanded their brand. Since the original Takeover event, WWE has hosted over 25 different NXT: Takeover PPV events.
WWE NXT has risen to become WWE’s third global brand alongside Raw and SmackDown, hosting nearly 200 live events around the world each year. As well as becoming a well known and world-renowned part of WWE programming, NXT has been the birthplace of many successful WWE Superstars such as Seth Rollins, Becky Lynch, Roman Reigns, Xavier Woods, Big E Langston, Bray Wyatt, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Charlotte Flair, Bayley, Sasha Banks AND MORE. General Manager William Regal manages the brand. NXT has expanded with the addition of another branch in the UK known as NXT UK which features a variety of talent from the country. NXT currently airs on Wednesday nights at 8/7 C and is also rated as the WWE Network’s number 1 rated weekly series.
The Big Announcement
On Tuesday, August 20th, 2019, WWE and USA Network broke the news that NXT would be moving from being broadcasted on the WWE Network to being broadcasted LIVE on the USA Network starting on Wednesday, September 18th, 2019. Not only will the show now be broadcasted LIVE, but it will also become a 2-hour program. Following the live airing of NXT, episodes will be available to stream on-demand on the WWE Network. NXT PPV events will continue to be broadcasted LIVE exclusively on the WWE Network. This announcement has come as a little bit of a shock to the WWE Universe as there was talk of NXT joining Smackdown LIVE on the move to Fox with NXT being broadcasted on FS1. To the surprise of the WWE Universe, that is not the case.
As someone who has been able to witness the growth and evolution of the NXT brand, it brings me great joy to see that the product has come so far. From the first NXT taping at Full Sail, to the first NXT PPV event, all the way down to the announcement of NXT moving to LIVE Television. The brand truly has evolved and become one of the most talked-about and most exciting things to watch in pro wrestling today.
How do you feel about WWE and USA Network announcing the NXT move to LIVE television? Were you upset that it has been moved to USA Network rather than FS1?
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