The Katz Files
The Kingfish Arnie Katz explores the concept and its ramifications of WWE’s new weekly show on SyFy.
The idea behind NXT certainly has a lot going for it. II is, in fact, a much better concept than either “Tough Enough” or the Diva Searches. While each of those efforts did produce a few useful performers, misses vastly outnumbered the hits – and the winners often fared worse than the also-rans. The company is probably not too interested in a season-long series that yields someone with the low potential of Maven.
Most of the stories written about NXT seem to relate it to “Tough Enough.” That’s only natural, but it may also be a bad comparison. NEXT is more like UFC’s “The Ultimate Fighter” than anything WWE has done previously.
Instead of casting its net for untrained wannabes, NXT has chosen guys who are already training to be wrestlers, but who haven’t yet hit the big time.
That change could well make all the difference. The students on NXT are close to being ready for WWE, whereas the ”Tough Enough” students, at best, were better-suited to going on to the development promotion for more comprehensive training.
Most of the students on NXT/I> will be fully ready for WWE by the time the first season runs its course. That means WWE is likely to get a significant infusion of talent at the end of the NXT season. And as anyone who watches RAW and Smackdown knows all too well, a fresh infusion of talent is something those shows desperately need. (Too bad they don’t have a show for aspiring writers and bookers…)
Not starting with completely untrained people should make the show a lot more interesting. You can only watch guys learning to fall or get off the canvas or run the ropes so many times before it gets repetitious and boring.
Watching someone struggle to learn the fundamentals of wrestling is interesting, but it also undercuts the show. Most WWE fans will probably be happier to see the students on NXT, because these eight guys won’t get bogged down trying to master the basics right in front of the audience.
The NXT students already know that stuff and will, instead, get a finishing polish. That will prevent fans from things about the wrestler’s early struggles every time he steps into the ring. Fans will see only finished product, not the rehearsals.
Professional wrestling, like all forms of entertainment, depends on the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief. It’s much harder for fans to make that necessary leap when they have seen an entire season of the same wrestler learning mechanics that should be hidden in the actual show.
Another huge plus, from WWE’s point of view, is that fans will already know the newcomers when they advance to RAW and Smackdown. Even better, we will know them as up-and-coming future stars, not unknowns getting a longshot chance at ring stardom.
I’ll be back on the weekend with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising pro wrestling column. I hope you’ll join me then and, please, bring your friends.
– Arnie Katz