WWE: NXT

NXT began transmission in early 2010 on Tuesday nights. It replaced ECW in that spot. The program covers WWE’s developmental roster.

Formation and initial structure
In the beginning NXT was a different program to the others in that it was a mixture of a regular wrestling program and aspects of Tough Enough and the generic talent show a la American Idol. It involved wrestlers already under a WWE Developmental contract being given the chance to show what they could do in front of a WWE audience with an established WWE superstar as their mentor.

There were five competitions in all with the fifth unfinished. The first involved eight male wrestlers, and the decisions were made solely by the superstars as to who would be eliminated. This competition was won by Wade Barrett. The second was the same except the audience could now also vote – with a 50 percent influence. The winner this time was Kaval. The third was for the women and the number dropped back to six. Kaitlyn was the winner of this competition. The fourth season reverted to the men once again with the same number of entrants, and was won by Johnny Curtis. The fifth season saw the return of some of the losers from previous seasons, looking for “redemption”.

On television in the US, NXT started on SciFi, but at the end of September 2010 it moved to WWE.com due to being unable to secure a TV contract elsewhere – the move being forced by the WWE space at the channel being taken by Smackdown upon their move from the CW Network.

Of the 22 male wrestlers and 6 female wrestlers, only six are still with the company and of the six only four of them are active in the ring – Daniel Bryan, Husky Harris/Bray Wyatt, Naomi Knight/Naomi and Johnny Curtis/Fandango. Byron Saxton is a commentator and David Otunga is a part time panellist. In 2020 Wade Barrett returned to the promotion as a commentator after departing in 2016.

The Developmental expansion
In June 2012 WWE moved the NXT tapings away from the main taping block and in with their developmental promotion Florida Championship Wrestling. They used Full Sail University for this purpose and have remained there since, except for Takeover events – until COVID-19 hit in 2020 whereupon the show moved to the WWE Performance Centre.

As the show developed initially, titles were established starting with the main championship which was first held by Seth Rollins in August 2012. This was followed by a tag team championship in February 2013, first held by the team of Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey AKA British Ambition (although this name was never used on NXT TV). Finally in July 2013 the women’s championship was added, first held by Paige.

Upon the creation of the WWE Network, the NXT TV show moved to there from WWE.com and debuted with NXT Arrival on Thursday February 27, 2015 – and remained on Thursdays until January 2015 when it moved to Wednesdays the same week Smackdown went back to Thursdays.

Consequent to Arrival, special events had the name of Takeover. The first five of these took place at Full Sail University before it started being held at bigger venues starting with the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn in August 2015 the day before Summerslam.

More recent times
At the end of 2016 the NXT umbrella was extended to the United Kingdom with the establishment of an NXT UK championship, won by Tyler Bate in early 2017. There was no TV show however until 2018 by which time Pete Dunne had won the title. Soon other UK titles were established – the women’s championship won by Rhea Ripley in November 2018 and the tag team championship won by the team of James Drake and Zack Gibson AKA The Grizzled Young Veterans in January 2019.

Meanwhile the US show was gaining popularity and then arrived on the USA Network in October 2019 also on Wednesdays primarily.

During the COVID-19 situation Takeover events were presented from Full Sail University again and later at the Performance Centre. In April 2021 the show moved to Tuesday nights.

Australian history
In Australia the show was shown from the beginning in 2010 on Fox8 on Thursday afternoons, and after Arrival (which Australia never saw) the situation with Smackdown began to repeat itself with Australia seeing NXT before the United States before the US move to Wednesday. Takeover in all it’s forms could only have been seen here if you were signed up to the WWE Network and as of August 2016 that included NXT itself as it dropped off Australian screens – until January 2020 when it returned live on Thursdays, moving to Wednesdays in April 2021.

Australia has a proud history with NXT – Melbourne’s Buddy Murphy became the first Australian champion when he and Wesley Blake won the NXT tag team titles. Melbourne’s Emma contested the final of the Women’s title tournament losing to Paige. Adelaide’s Rhea Ripley as mentioned was the inaugural NXT UK women’s champion and also won the the main NXT women’s title defending it against Charlotte at Wrestlemania 36, before winning the Raw women’s title at Wrestlemania 37. Brisbane’s Toni Storm also won the UK women’s title as well as winning the Mae Young Classic in 2018. Sydney’s Billie Kay and Peyton Royce established themselves as a team with NXT. Perth’s Nick Miller and Shane Thorne AKA TM-61 made the final of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic in 2016 and while Miller has subsequently left, Thorne is now known as Slapjack on the main roster as part of Retribution. Adelaide’s Bronson Reed and Duke Hudson and Melbourne’s Indi Hartwell are also on the NXT roster. Brisbane’s Daniel Vidot is in the development group.

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