Hello everyone. I wanted to write another column this week and so here I am. This is going to be more stream of consciousness than my normal writings. I have a few topics that I want to touch on. Truth be told It’s been a slow news week. But next weekend is going to be a little bit nuts as SummerSlam, NXT ROH, Jim Ross are all going to descend on Brooklyn. WWE has sold out the Barclays Center three nights in a row. The most interesting of the three dates is the WWE Network Takeover special for NXT.

There’s no denying that WWE’s alternative brand has grown in leaps and bounds in the last few months. The fact that they sold out a 13,000 seat building for what was originally a developmental territory is kind of amazing. This feat is even more amazing considering it’s humble beginnings as a faux reality program on SYFY.

February 23, 2010 was an interesting day as WWE folded their ECW relaunch to begin the journey to find “their next breakout star”. It’s really amazing going back just five years and seeing the cast compete in challenges knowing what they would become. You had of course a clean-shaven Daniel Bryan, Darren Young, Wade Barrett, Ryback a.k.a. Skip Sheffield, Michael Tarver, David Otunga and Justin Gabriel a.k.a. PJ Black. WWE would try to blur the lines between fantasy and reality on what was actually known by the talent and the hosts. I’m currently reading Daniel Bryan’s book and he tells the tale of the opening night promo with the Miz being off-the-cuff. Looking back now, the format is very similar to how Tough Enough is presented this season. Contestants would do challenges and get coaches critiques as well as fan vote to stay in the competition with matches interspersed in between.

The first season when obviously lead to the Nexus angle in June 2010 and lead to be brief hiatus of Daniel Bryan on WWE TV. Later seasons would attempt the same format with different talents but It didn’t have the same appeal as the first season.

I should note that all seasons of NXT are still available on Hulu Plus in the US if you want to go back and watch old episodes. Unfortunately they’re not on WWE Network yet and I hope WWE rectify that soon.

In 2012 WWE decided to rebrand the developmental territory with the NXT brand name. The format of the show would change from my never-ending reality like competition series to a television show taped in WWE arenas to an old-school presentation at Full Sail University. WWE would use the minds of Dusty Rhodes, Triple H and others to really cultivate a separate brand an alternative to normal WWE programming. Slowly but surely WWE NXT became an Internet darling and started gaining steam.

When the WWE Network launched, NXT was the first live broadcast. February 27, 2014 saw the first NXT Takeover with amazing matches getting the fledgling streaming network much-needed momentum going forward. As the months went on the quarterly specials have taken on a life of their own and are a crown jewel of WWE’s streaming catalog. Now, the alternative brand has branched out of its from its Florida roots to touring all over the country. What’s next for the brand? I don’t know. But it’s always interesting to see the progression of something that started with such meager beginnings. It’s gone far beyond any thing that WWE or most critics thought it would.

Ironically, WWE has used the strategy originally intended for their relaunch of ECW in 2006 running smaller arenas and garnering the disenfranchised WWE fan for NXT. It makes you wonder how different the company would be these days if they would’ve left the third brand alone. Would WWE be in a strong position if Vince would’ve let those in charge run the brand as they saw fit. Many talents got wasted by the former developmental system.

One NXT alumni that found success outside of the WWE umbrella is the current TNA champion Ethan Carter. As Derrick Bateman he was a strange guy that was in purgatory on the fourth / fifth season of NXT, now he is without a doubt one of the biggest stars to come out of the later Impact Wrestling era. In the company’s turmoil he’s definitely proving he can hold his own and carry the weight of the promotion on his shoulders. The Carter character is the 21st century heel. And really is one of the very few sparks on that program right now. I honestly think that he and Rockstar Spud, who has really grown into his own in recent months as the underdog character could be left out in the cold if TNA were to close.

Global Force Wrestling and TNA have started to cross over this past week on television. And while I thought the episode was okay, it wasn’t as revolutionary as presented. Being a fan for as long as I have it feels like the last gasp of a company barely keeping their head above the water. Hopefully I’m wrong. Because as many fans want TNA to go into business for some of the bad decision they made over the years, that means some guys may not get work anywhere else. Not everybody can be part of NXT. I’m not really sure how many lives Impact Wrestling has left. But I hope they have a few more as the more wrestling and the more promotions the better it is for fans and workers alike.

That’s all I have for now. I will see you soon.

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.