What makes the difference between NXT and main roster WWE is a common topic of discussion (and argument) among fans and professionals alike. As 411Mania reports, on a recent episode of The Steve Austin Show, Stone Cold and his guest Sean “X-Pac” Waltman talked about this difference in terms of the recent TakeOver Brooklyn 4 and SummerSlam.
Waltman was not reluctant to admit he preferred TakeOver, and he had thoughts as to why:
“I mean, they’re the same company, but, man, [TakeOver and SummerSlam were] night and day to me, personally. It’s like [NXT] know they’re fanbase. It’s a little bit [of a] different fanbase and it’s easier for [NXT] to cater to them because they’re not trying to, I think maybe, cater to everyone and every demographic. Like, I don’t know. I like how they present the storylines they do. It’s nice and simplistic on how they present everything… It doesn’t rack your brain. It’s easy to follow. I like the characters. There are a lot of people on that roster, but you’ve got to fight to be on that show. You’ve got to be one of the best guys to be on that TakeOver show or best girls, yeah. One of the best ones out there.”
Austin agreed, and expanded on the idea that NXT is easier to follow because it’s catering to fewer people:
“The thing I like about the NXT thing is it’s almost like you said, the main roster is almost trying to cover or cater to everybody. And to me, the NXT thing is more… they are both under the same umbrella, it’s WWE, it’s sports entertainment. It ain’t pro wrestling anymore. Now, it’s sports entertainment officially, but in my mind, it’s still pro wrestling. And to me, NXT, yeah, it’s kind of like a throwback. And it’s all modern stuff, great lighting, great production values, everything else, but the storylines are very easy to understand and very simple. And, I mean, the announcers aren’t trying to go overboard trying to explain whatever’s going on. Sometimes when I watch the main roster stuff, it’s like they’re trying to play to so many people that the storylines get kind of convoluted.”
Many, myself included, agree that the NXT storylines are easier to follow. I wonder, however, if it has less to do with how many people they’re trying to cater to and more to do with how many people are in the writer’s room and how many directions they and the performers are trying to follow at once.
On the other hand, these are two guys who obviously know a significant amount about how the wrestling world world, so give each theory appropriate weight. X-Pac went on to talk about the possibility of a new boom-time for wrestling, and the central role of non-WWE product within it.
“I think we’re at the beginning of a wrestling boom. I don’t think it’s going to be comparable to the one we went through, Steve, because I just think the landscape is too different, but I can’t help but feel that because I’m out there and I feel that the excitement that’s being picked up. I honestly think that it’s a lot of the people that are frustrated with the WWE product, the ones that you’re not going to please them no matter what. I don’t know. They just want to be that counterculture, I don’t know, almost like that punk rock mentality. And I think that’s kind of fueling the whole indy pro wrestling resurgence [or] renaissance. I don’t know what you want to call it, but there are a lot of guys doing really well out there right now.”
For indie wrestling fans it’s tempting to object to making it so much about WWE, but when you look at reactions to an event like All In, it’s clear that for a lot of fans part of the appeal is the ways in which that show is different from anything WWE would do. The truth is, if some resentment of WWE is part of what’s building success in the rest of the wrestling business, that still leads to more and better wrestling everywhere.