If there was an overarching lesson or theme I took away from Wednesday's NXT: Takeover special, it was that there's a distinct difference between the "have's" and the "have nots", the "WWE ready" and the "Still Developing". While that's not a major issue in the grand scheme of things, it could potentially cause a problem down the road. . .If it hasn't already.
I'll go ahead and post my first of what will likely be many disclaimers - I didn't see the entire show. I skipped the first women's match (even with Charlotte involved) and missed the second one. And yes, I'll watch it.
Let me say that again. . . YES I WILL WATCH SASHA BANKS VS BECKY LYNCH! I KNOW IT WAS AMAZING - IT MIGHT EVEN HELP ME FIND RELIGION! STOP YELLING AT ME!!!
So I won't be including the female talents in this list - You know who is ready and who isn't.
Tyler Breeze and Finn Balor have it. I enjoyed their entrances more than many of the Wrestlemania ones, and I thought Breeze's was even better than Balor's. For some reason, I was expecting a different paint job, not the Venom-ish teeth. It was good, don't get me wrong, but Breeze owned his entrance. It was magical.
Baron Corbin does NOT have it. Yes, his match with Rhyno was longer, and yes, that's a good thing, but he's still not anywhere near ready for the big-time, unless he's going to be a Luther Reigns or an early Diesel and just stand there.
Dingo and Clap-Clap do NOT have it. I don't think any of us expected them to, really, and while I like the alliance with Alexa Bliss, I still think there's work to be done. I will say, though, that I'm much higher on Wesley Blake (of the Lenny Lane-style pigtails) than I was when this tag team started.
Enzo and Cass ALMOST have it. . .But not yet Don't get me wrong, I enjoy them both, and they are going to be WWE tag champions. It's gonna happen. . . But their ring work still needs a little something in order to get them fully ready for "the show".
Truthfully, I don't know where The Vaudevillains have gone. These guys would have helped Enzo and Cass in a prolonged feud and given them the extra polish they might have needed to be fully ready. Where are you, Simon and Aiden? I need you!
Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe have it. . . In spades As if there was possibly going to be another answer here. Unstoppable was so good because NXT knows what my middle school band teacher taught me - The beginning and ending is what you remember, the middle doesn't matter as much. Takeover began and ended with WWE ready talents, and that's what counts.
But that's also the problem.
Of the 5 guys I mentioned as "having it", only Tyler Breeze is under the age of 30. Samoa Joe, as mentioned multiple times on NAIpod this week, is 36 years old. I'm not saying they're ancient and nearing the decrepit stage of their careers, but as someone who is also in his early 30's, I can say that the body definitely changes a bit as you age.
These guys have a limited window of time where they are going to be at the top of their game, which begs the question.
Truthfully, what possible "developing" does Fergal Devitt, Rami Sebei, Kevin Steen and Nuufolau Seanoa need? Don't give me "They need to learn the WWE way of wrestling" - I don't buy that for a second. As far as I can tell, the WWE form of wrestling is to do safer moves and roll out of the ring every so often so that Michael Cole can awkwardly cut to commercial - these veterans can handle that.
At this point, as exciting as NXT has been and as marvelous as the next few months will be, aren't these guys wasting time in Full Sail? Shouldn't they all (Yes, including Breeze) be on the main roster?
The career of a professional wrestler, specifically in WWE, is very short. It doesn't feel that way because we see many of them multiple times a week, but it is. For all but the tippety top tier of guys, it's what? 4 years? 5? And that's it. Stone Cold set the world on fire from Wrestlemania 13 to 19, and then he was gone.
These guys have a relatively narrow window of making a huge mark in WWE, before injuries, booking or burnout gets in the way. Every Takeover they spend in NXT is time away from their WWE careers.
And that's not the only problem.
Solomon Crowe. Jason Jordan. Marcus Louis. Tye Dillinger. Shoot Nation, if they still exist. Alex Riley. The aforementioned Vaudevillains. . .
BULL F#$*ING DEMPSEY!
These talents were missing from NXT:Takeover, and in many cases, from NXT entirely. Why? Many of you would argue that it's because "they're not ready".
Really? They're not ready for developmental? How is that even possible?
These guys are missing because the spots that would normally be filled by them are being taken up by these talents who are, as I mentioned, WWE ready. That's not only a crime to the guys who should be on RAW and Smackdown right now, but its a crime to the talents who should be the focal point of the NXT product.
Sure, NXT does live events where these guys get a more featured role, but the only thing that's really going to get them ready for WWE TV is NXT "TV". Right now that's not happening.
The easiest answer would be to move the WWE ready guys (including Enzo and Cass, if you wish) to the main roster and let the developmental program be actually about development.
This isn't the best answer, though. WWE is already having a hard enough time making sure their current crop of talents is being featured enough, so adding 5-7 more guys to their roster is just going to complicate matters further.
Alternative options abound for solving this particular problem, but this is the one I like best.
Three tiers of wrestling
WWE, of course, would be the cream of the crop, where stars rise to the top, to paraphrase Mr. Savage. Underneath that, however, would be 2 other "organizations" - Think of it as AA and AAA from baseball.
The lower league, whatever the name would be, is for the guys who truly are developing, whether its ring skills, characters, promo work, whatever. This group does the Florida circuit of touring and still has a WWE Network show, just like the current NXT does now.
Before his unfortunate parking lot injury (kayfabe), I'd be booking Hideo Itami as the champion of this tier. He needs to adapt to the American style of wrestling and he needs to work on his English promos. I'm not saying he's terrible, I'm just saying he needs more work, so don't send me hate mail.
The second tier, the AAA of the group, would be called NXT. This would be where talent get the final polish, the last minute tweaks and additions, before being ready for the main roster. All of these "indie darlings" who have signed with WWE - This is where they would have gone straightaway. A couple months on the "new NXT" roster, maybe one Network special event, and then they are WWE bound.
The "new NXT" roster functions much like the WWE one - more nation-wide tours, a slightly more expensive WWE Network product. Hell, give them Smackdown! It's not like people are actually watching it anyway. Imagine a casual or former wrestling fan accidentally happening upon Owens and Joe facing off on the SyFy or USA network. That would attract some eyeballs!
I like this system because it opens up more opportunities for talents on all levels of WWE. Zack Ryder, Jack Swagger, Heath Slater - All these guys suddenly become bigger stars, albeit on a "lower tier" program. We saw how a year or so in NXT did wonders for Tyson Kidd's career and it could do the same for guys like this.
I also like this system because, in theory, it could scale back the workload for everyone. I've been a longtime proponent of wrestlers having a more part-time schedule, and this could do that. If you have a tiered system in place, you could call up a "AAA" talent to replace a main level guy who takes a couple months off. Dolph Ziggler disappears for a while, but in his "spot" is Sami Zayn... That sort of thing.
I'm not saying that WWE and NXT have it wrong - it'd be lunacy to think so. What I will say, though, is that it can be better. HHH and Steph are becoming famous for thinking outside the box - This seems right up their alley.
What do YOU think? Be Heard.