Happy Thanksgiving everyone in the United States. I hope your hearts are as full as your stomachs today. Before you dig into the turkey and mashed potatoes today, I thought I would give you some food for thought regarding NXT and the main WWE product.

It’s no secret that the conclusion of the WWE World Title tournament left a bad taste in a lot of people mouth. Seeing Sheamus cash in on Roman Reigns left a lot of fans throwing up their hands wanting to quit watching the WWE product. Even WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley voiced his displeasure on the treatment of the fans and the up-and-coming Reigns, who was finally starting to win people over. Ratings seem to be down across the board and fan enthusiasm is at an all-time low for the main storyline. Many online pointed out the similarities between this and the 2013 angle with Daniel Bryan at Summerslam making them question the creative direction trying to make the prototype Roman Reigns sympathetic underdog.

Many people reference NXT as the only thing on WWE programming that they watch each week. So I wonder how many will feel given the storyline with Bailey and Eva Marie being about “corporate WWE”? I imagine some may be angry thinking that WWE storyline are now infiltrating the crown jewel of the WWE Network. And I can understand the concern as many feel NXT is the anti-WWE. Although, I don’t think they have anything to worry about.

The framing of this week’s NXT main event had referee Charles Robinson and Michael Cole stack the deck against unconventional the Women’s Champion against the Total Diva Eva Marie. Interviews made clear that Eva Marie was the WWE’s choice to represent the brand over the wrestler Bayley. They did a lot in this episode that was smart. First, if you had been paying attention to the TV for the last few weeks they’ve been planting the seeds for this. Eva Marie has been complementing referees for their assistance and saying that she was next Champion.

I think this was great in a lot of ways. Many feared that the Total Divas Star did not belong in the strong women’s division. However I think it’s a smart strategy as it further establishes NXT as the alternative and give you a great heel for Bayley to play off of. The NXT Women’s Champion is the ultimate underdog and in order to keep people invested in her you have to put her against insurmountable odds. This was perfect. The use of Nia Jax was great as the new heavy for the redhead. Where this shines over its main roster doppelgänger is that Roman Reigns is not seen as unconventional. Unfortunately for him, he is the carbon copy of a WWE baby face. Whereas Daniel Bryan and Bayley are seen as unconventional stars that WWE would not make unless fans got behind them.

The most interesting thing is it shows that WWE , particularly the NXT booking staff knows, how to make this angle work on a much smaller scale. Particularly, that the baby face overcame the odds and showed she could persevere over “corporate” WWE’s wishes. It’s obvious of course. But it works at the rudimentary level. It establishes three personalities very strongly going forward and brings a new challenge for Bayley to overcome. I like that they use the term “corporate” WWE as Triple H is the flag waver for the brand. It’s almost like the positioning of WWE (Vince) versus NXT (Triple H) is starting to happen on screen. And I have no problem with it. Why not use the Internet smart fan prejudice to invest fans into the fledgling brand. ECW did it and it works rather well.

About The Author

Dan is host of Shooting from the Hip which you can hear every Sunday at 8pm EST, 7pm CST right here on PWpop.com.