Over the weekend the WWE put on two events. On Saturday night we were privileged with NXT Takeover: Chicago. On Sunday we were given the Money in the Bank WWE Network special. Both events were recapped by the Laracuente Ledger. Check them out here NXT Takeover: Chicago Recap, Money in the Bank Recap. In watching both events to recap what happened on the two WWE Network specials were very different.
Money in the Bank had some worthwhile moments, but also had moments that lacked. While NXT Takeover: Chicago felt special from start to finish. For me, the issue was a separation of value in the two network events. What made Takeover: Chicago feel different from MITB (Money in the Bank) was the stories. The action on the WWE Network “PPV” events is usually more focused in-ring than your typical Monday Night RAW or Tuesday’s Smackdown Live episodes. Yet somehow the stories told in-ring by the NXT event felt different.
Same Company Why So Different?
What many fans of pro wrestling have been witness to when watching NXT events in comparison to the regular WWE is the focus. The focus of NXT is built and told in the ring. The wrestlers are allowed to tell their stories in the most compelling way possible. Stories are told by the physical exchange inside the squared circle. NXT gives their Superstars a chance to grow and develop. Yes, I know what is going to be said. Well, they are the WWE’s developmental system they should. However, the evidence of the difference is vastly visible.
NXT Finn vs. Main Roster Finn
In NXT Finn Balor, formerly known as Prince Devitt, had the NXT Universe in the palm of his hand at every turn. He was able to grow as a person and competitor and thus creating the legion known as Balor Club. So when Finn was “promoted” to the main roster everyone who watched him on the indy’s and in NXT knew the true star power that he and his alter-ego “The Demon King” possessed. Yet, one man (out of date with society, in my opinion) felt that he was “OVER.” Mr. McMahon deemed Finn not over with the fans, yet every Monday night when his music hits all fans stand in unison. All fans follow Finn as the leader of the Balor Club in his entrance motion. Yet, he was deemed not over?
NXT KO vs. Main Roster KO
Kevin Owens another man who dominated down in NXT. Who even as a heel attacking his “Best Friend” Sami Zayn leading to one of the most epic NXT Rivalries in history, has not been showcased properly. Yes, both Finn and KO have held the WWE Universal Championship. Yet through injury (Balor, at the hands of Rollins), or through mishandling (Owens, defeated by Goldberg, really?) have been given the proper presentation. These are just two examples of many who have not been booked correctly on the main roster.
Quality Over Quantity
Circling back to this past weekend, the Takeover event featured five matches in a three-hour event. While the MITB event featured nine matches in a four-hour event, not including the match on the pre-show. When there are more matches on the card, each match gets less time to shine. Taking away matches that are merely placeholder feuds will allow the more meaningful matches the opportunity to really tell an in-ring story of quality. Because let’s face it Bobby Lashley vs. Sami Zayn was a joke of a contest and it made Sami Zayn look like a fool. Sami Zayn is one of the most underutilized talents currently in the WWE and they are wasting him. With that said, however, I have loved his work as a heel alongside best friend Kevin Owens.
Stop the Madness
Another match that was an absolute joke was Roman Reigns vs. Jinder Mahal. This match was a feeble attempt at one thing that was sadly very apparent Mr. McMahon. The thing about this feud was it was an attempt to get Roman over as a face with the fans, out of the disdain for Jinder. Goal attempted, goal failed. While many fans dislike Jinder Mahal, that is because he plays the obnoxious heel very well, and honestly, in the ring, he isn’t really talented either so it makes it easy to dislike him. However, Roman Reigns isn’t too much better than Jinder in that category either.
Reigns is essentially John Cena 2.0 with his five moves of doom. The Superman Punch, the apron dropkick, the powerbomb, the repeated corner clotheslines and the spear. The other thing that separates Mahal from Reigns is that while bland Mahal still has some semblance of charisma, while Reigns is like a duck trying to swim up a river of lava in Hawaii. Eliminating just these two matches would have allowed WWE MITB more time to tell better in-ring stories in feuds that mattered.
Listen to the People
For a long time WWE management claims to listen to the people, yet on RAW and Smackdown Live there is no such evidence. While on NXT it is the show of the people. In my ratings of this past weekends events, the MITB WWE Network special received three and a half stars. While the NXT Takeover: Chicago event received a full five stars. The feuds and matches were built up correctly and given time to breathe and gain momentum. The main roster has a supremely talented roster of worth stars. And they have the talent to outshine NXT, yet month after month and event after event they do not impress. There is a simple solution to curing the ails of lackluster specials on the main roster.
Solving the Complex Equation
The simple solution is to let go of the overwhelming maniacal necessity to have everything so scripted. Allow the WWE Superstars to be engaging, allow them to show a little personality. Give them the freedom to be themselves, for that is how they can best help the product on tv each and every week. If everything gets scripted down to the minute we lose those moments of special spontaneity that makes wrestling memorable. If everything continues being scripted the way it is, we will never have the next Austin 3:16 moment.
The WWE has everything they need to create the next big superstar but they must listen to the people. Because the WWE and their “Universe” must go hand in hand for there to be a WWE to watch in the future. It may not be Finn Balor or Sami Zayn or Kevin Owens and probably won’t be Roman Reigns (although talented we covered him in The Fall of the Empire: The Roman Reigns Tale“) there will be a superstar that can change the business like Stone Cold did. But if you continue to block further development after NXT we will never know.