Why you should watch WWE NXT

In 2014, you subscribed to the WWE Network because WWE announced that the old competition show NXT had become an actual wrestling show. Even though NXT had been around since 2012 as a wrestling show, the first NXT Takeover took place on February 27, 2014, with the appropriately named event NXT: Arrival. The first match of this “new era” of NXT was a thrilling match between Sami Zayn and Cesaro (now Claudio Castagnoli), which saw Cesaro get the win over Zayn. After this show, it was off to the races for NXT.

Throughout the years that followed, what fans call NXT Black and Gold became must-see viewing. There was an influx of fan-favorite independent wrestlers who were cycled in and out of NXT since its inception. This influx of talent brought many eyes to the product and NXT took full advantage of the new viewership. During the first couple of years (2014-2018), NXT brought in talent such as; PAC, Finn Balor (Prince Devitt), Mercedes Moné (Sasha Banks), Bayley (Davina Rose), Adam Cole, Asuka (Kana), Johnny Gargano, and many more. Between all the wrestlers that were brought in and the wrestling style, NXT Black and Gold became the fan-favorite brand of weekly wrestling.

In 2019, the USA network began airing NXT weekly on Wednesday nights. It was widely seen that NXT airing on Wednesday night was a way to give AEW television competition. After having low viewership on Wednesday, USA Network moved NXT to Tuesday nights starting in April of 2021. The change from Tuesday nights also came with another change, NXT Black and Gold was over and NXT would become NXT 2.0. NXT 2.0 began with Vince McMahon and Bruce Pritchard as the head creative when Paul Levesque (Triple H) was sidelined with a heart condition.

With the introduction of NXT 2.0, the roster shifted from highlighting fan-favorite independent wrestlers to focusing more on developing talent taken from college sports. Some wrestlers still began their careers on the independent scene but a majority of NXT 2.0 talent were hired and participated in the newly formed Next In Line program, or NIL program. When this move was made, a portion of wrestling fans decided that it was not something they wanted to watch. Whether it was the integration of newer talent, the lack of independent wrestlers, or the fact that it was no longer Black and Gold, fans decided that the programming was no longer for them. Some fans have noted that the changes made were harmful to the product but even newer changes took place a year later.

In September of 2022, Shawn Michaels was appointed as the Senior Vice President of Talent Development Creative and became the new head of creative in NXT. It was not long after Shawn Michaels took over in the creative capacity that fans began to see a big change in NXT. The first big change that took place was NXT 2.0 dropped the 2.0 from its name and became NXT once again. Secondly, NXT began to focus more on developing characters and storylines rather than only having independent wrestling-style matches. There has also been an integration of veteran independent talent with rookie NIL talent.

Among some of the best changes Shawn Michaels has implicated since taking over, NXT has been allowing more air time for female talent than any other promotion in North America. This has been tremendous for wrestling fans that have been looking for women’s wrestling and it is allowing the showcase of the female talent NXT has to offer. Another outstanding move that Michaels has implemented during his time as head of creative is the interweaving of main roster talent into NXT programming. This has not only helped elevate the younger talent involved in the NIL program but it is also giving opportunities to some main roster talent that have needed a revamp in their character or with their in-ring work. Ever since these changes have been made in NXT, fans have been slowly returning to see what has become of NXT.

Success in wrestling contains many different variables depending on who is reporting it. Some view success as stemming from “first watch” viewership numbers, the numbers that networks use to determine how well a television show is doing. If that is the metric, since Shawn Michaels has taken over in NXT the viewership has seen an increase, especially in the 18-49 years old demographic that advertisers look at. But what about ticket sales? One of the issues that NXT has is they run their weekly show in one location with a small audience but there are ticket sales that can be looked at for their pay-per-views attendance numbers. During the Shawn Michaels era of NXT, the pay-per-view attendance (credit to WrestleTix on Twitter) has averaged almost 5,000 live.

Regardless of what metric is used, NXT has been showing signs of success ever since Shawn Michaels took over. Whether it be the attendance numbers for pay-per-views or the weekly viewership averaging about 650,000 same-day (credit to Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics), NXT is no doubt succeeding in the wrestling world. From a viewer’s standpoint, there is something on every week for everyone. If you like high flyers, NXT has Dragon Lee, Axiom, and Nathan Frazer to name a few. If you are looking for fun stories then look no further because NXT has multiple stories running with various talents. NXT is the home of some of the best up-and-coming talent, fantastic wrestling matches, fun storylines, and captivating moments. If you needed any more reasons to watch NXT, hopefully, this article helped sway you.