NXT is basically the WWE’s junior varsity, if you’re unfamiliar, but anybody who watches it would tell you that its storytelling and characters are infinitely more compelling than what Raw and Smackdown are peddling out these days. In fact, it’s become something of a bummer when NXT stars get “called up” to the main roster, as they more often than not languish on the fringes. For the last several years, the hourlong show’s aired on the WWE Network app and replayed on Hulu. That changes next month, as it will now air as a two-hour event on WWE’s longtime home of USA.
Though brevity has long been one of NXT’s strengths—there’s no creative reason why Raw and Smackdown need to run three hours—the two-hour runtime should suit it nicely, what with the federation both brimming with exciting new talent and acquiring fresh new faces on a regular basis. It already feels like it’s bursting at the seams.
The worry, of course, is just how involved WWE CEO Vince McMahon will get with NXT. While we all loved the McMahon of the Attitude Era, it’s long been speculated that his non-involvement with NXT is what’s allowed it to creatively flourish as it has. Now, he’s saying in a statement that he wants to “develop a following that can be monetized to the same level as our flagship programs, Raw and SmackDown.” That means he’ll likely want to get his fingers in the dough of the product, which, considering his recent work with the main roster, is worrisome. Don’t be surprised when a 50-something Goldberg or whoever the fuck shows up to bury Johnny Gargano and the Velveteen Dream. Also, Chrisley Knows Best commercials!
The good news is that NXT will continue to film the bulk of its episodes from Florida’s Full Sail University, an intimate venue that gives it the scrappy feel of Raw’s earliest episodes. It’ll also keep the same time slot, airing at 8 p.m. ET when it makes the move to USA beginning on September 18.