At this point, I am merely a casual WWE fan. I will fast forward through Raw, but only after 11 PM to get through the unwatchable sections. I can't be bothered to watch Superstars. Smackdown is on at an inconvenient time for me, though I try to go back and rewatch things that sounded good on Hulu. Ironically, the one show I watched on a weekly basis was ECW, which was just cancelled. The weekly 10-15 minute Goldust, William Regal, and Christian matches and the lack of BS made it worth watching.
Unfortunately, I guess people watch WWE these days for the BS, as ECW was not performing in the ratings for SyFy. Their last show was last night, and as of next week, ECW will be replaced on SyFy with a "new" concept called WWE NXT.
So why am I interested when NXT cancelled the one WWE show I made an effort to watch?
For one thing, NXT represents a real opportunity for WWE to improve in an area where they have been lacking for much of the past decade: introducing new faces to the shows. NXT will be devoted to eight "rookies" working towards earning spots on the main roster. They will be focused on much more than if they had debuted on Smackdown or ECW out of the blue with no fanfare. This is even better than the old 2-3 minute vignettes they used to use to debut guys like Razor Ramon back in the day; this is an hour's worth of programming devoted to introducing eight guys to the main rosters. By the time they debut on Raw or Smackdown, the audience will have a reason to care about these guys.
Another thing that will work to the advantage of the show is having established WWE guys on the show like Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Miz, and Christian. ECW failed in the ratings because of a lack of star power. With legit upper midcard wrestlers on the show, that won't be as big of an issue for NXT. This will also give the younger guys a chance to interact with stars from the main roster to help establish themselves when they do debut down the road. NXT viewers will remember how well (or how poorly) Miz and Daniel Bryan got along, or the issues that flared up between CM Punk and Darren Young. There will be some already established backstory for the newcomers as soon as they debut, and that can only be a good thing.
The major con for this concept seems to be organization. I get the feeling (and I could be off here) that WWE is kind of flying by the seat of their pants here, and the concept of the show could change several times even after it begins. As it is, we're a week away from the show's start, and it hasn't really been made clear what the show is. Is it a reality show? Is it a fake reality show? Is it a wrestling show like ECW? Is it like Tough Enough/Ultimate Fighter? That is the one area where I think this could be doomed; if the ratings aren't strong out of the gate, there will be the temptation to tinker with the project in-season and perhaps abandon it all together before it has the opportunity to reach its potential. That would be a shame, because I think this is something that could really work.
One area that I'm not as concerned about is the bringing in of writers to script the show. WWE is already heavily scripted, so why not script it? It will be an introduction for talent to get used to the WWE way of writing this show. I also don't think that the actual reality of this show is that important; this is more a show to introduce talent to the main roster. Whether its actual reality or fake reality, it doesn't matter, as long as the wrestlers involved are able to demonstrate a marketable personality for their eventual debut on the main rosters.
We will find out more about this new concept next Tuesday when NXT debuts. in the meantime, I'm anticipating the new show greatly. I think this is a real opportunity for WWE and I am hopeful they make the most of it. Tuesdays at 10 had already been appointment viewing for this casual WWE fan; hopefully NXT will draw in some more of us than ECW.