As a long time wrestling fan, I have always been in love with the characters presented in pro-wrestling, be it WWF, WCW, WCCW, Mid-South, etc… but one thing that those companies always did well, until WWE’s recent history, is introduce wrestlers to their audience. However, this art seems to be lost in the present day.
Firstly, we should note that WWE is the major game in town anymore, and has the vast majority of fan attention. As a grown man with a full-time job, side hustles, and relationships to maintain, I cannot give 5 hours of my attention to the companies weekly programming, nor to the NXT content that is produced weekly. I keep up on it by reading news and results and watching when I can, and one thing that has stuck in my craw is the lack of pumping up new main roster wrestlers or personalities, and I blame this on the way that WWE, and most likely Triple H, view NXT.
NXT is well regarded by hardcore wrestling fans for it’s logical storytelling, fleshed out characters, and great in-ring action, but those same fans often fail to acknowledge that NXT is a niche product, only presented to the less than 2 million subscribers of WWE Network, many of whom, such as myself, don’t view it. This is an issue, as it is the formative, minor league arm of WWE, but many within the company view it as a brand on par with their Raw and Smackdown shows, which is very misguided.
It is this thought process that leads the company to doing no more than having these NXT wrestlers show up on the main roster, expecting most fans to know who they are, know their journey and backstory, and be excited for their arrival. This is lunacy
For years, WWE introduced new personalities through the use of vignettes that would play for weeks or even months, building up anticipation for a wrestler’s debut while also explaining their character and adding depth. Think of the classic vignettes to build up Ted DiBiase, Mr. Perfect, Razor Ramon, Goldust, Val Venis, Kurt Angle, and even Nathan Jones. Before these characters ever stepped foot in the ring, fans knew who they were, what to expect, and even their heel/face alignment.
The current model of having generic music played while a strange individual walks out onto the main roster stage to cheers from neck beards and indifference from everyone else is a far cry from what we used to get. It is not the fault of the wrestlers, but is definitely an issue with management who decide to just throw these performers into the fray without any proper build up or exposure to their wider audience. It can be simply remedied by filming some vignettes and promos at the performance center, but it’s been years or this same issue and nothing has changed.