Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Another look at: NXT (2012-present)

After 2-plus years as a pseudo-reality competition series, WWE went back to the drawing board with NXT, rebooting and rebranding it as the new name of their developmental program in Florida, retiring the Florida Championship Wrestling brand, once and for all, in 2012.

A large part of the current WWE "main roster" (Raw & Smackdown) "graduated" from NXT over the course of the last 8 years, including current Smackdown women's champion Bayley (Pamela Martinez), Raw tag team champions The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins), & Raw women's champion Asuka. Current Universal champion Roman Reigns (Joseph Anoia) was part of the FCW era, under the name, Leakee (pronounced Lee-ah-kee), before adopting his current name in 2012, promoted from NXT in the fall.

The current series adopted its 2 hour format last fall upon shifting first run broadcasts from WWE Network to USA Network (the former gets reruns the next day), where it normally airs on Wednesdays, except the last two episodes, including last night, were aired on Tuesdays due to USA helping sister networks NBC and NBC Sports Network with the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.

Last night's show saw Finn Balor regain the NXT title, which was vacated by Kevin "Karrion" Kross due to injury, four days after dethroning Keith Lee (now on Raw). At the end of the night, Australia's Rhea Ripley defeated former Shimmer champion Mercedes Martinez in a steel cage, and that led to Martinez's "agent", Robert Stone (Rob Eckos), cutting ties with the New York native, but, as is usual with this refugee from a Robert Downey, Jr. acting seminar, he's going about it the wrong way....

Stone's whole look includes a throwback to the casual, no-socks look that went out when Miami Vice was cancelled. He's a clown as a heel manager, and, trust me, he's not long for NXT. Martinez reportedly isn't, either. She tore up the restraining order, and is rumored to be one of the masked members of Retribution, a faction that formed earlier this summer as WWE's way of riffing on the real life protests over racial injustice.

NXT will be back on Wednesdays next week, opposite AEW's Dynamite on TNT.

Rating: A-.

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