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This week’s NXT showed that talent need a damn break

The top stars of the most beloved WWE brand should have gotten a little chance to rest this week.

I love watching The Undisputed ERA, Keith Lee, Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai and others wrestle live on NXT TV, but this past Wednesday, something felt off. This episode exposed an issue with the brand’s move to a weekly live show.

Typically, the show that aired after a TakeOver would not push the wrestlers who just went all out at that live Network special (and this one was a WarGames, for crying out loud!) to go again. Instead, they might wrestle later that week at a taping, but with a day or two more to recover.

Listen, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know what to believe in pro wrestling. I’m not a smart mark. I’m just a mark. But watching wrestlers perform on a live broadcast, some for the fourth time in six days, gave me a queasy feeling.

The Nov. 27 NXT TV episode felt like an exercise in Murphy’s Law. There was only one injury, thank goodness. It came early, as Bobby Fish apparently landed roughly when Keith Lee threw him out of the ring. Commentary spoke to Fish’s knee, I thought Fish’s landing looked worse for his head or neck (and later reports indicate it was a concussion). He was then replaced by Roderick Strong, and the match proceeded.

Was the bad landing attributable to this being the ERA’s fourth match of the week? Again, just a mark. But that, and some iffy looking moments in other matches like the Cruiserweight title match and Kai vs. LeRae, kept bringing up that queasy feeling.

For the sake of the health of its wrestlers, WWE needs to take Wednesday as a chance to reconsider their approach to these post-TakeOver shows. Adam Cole shouldn’t have been the only wrestler with the night off (if this counts as a night off), his UE cohorts could have also played cowards and denied Full Sail & audiences at home the chance to watch them again.

We all know everyone really cares about ratings these days. We can pretty safely assume that every article begging for an off season in pro wrestling has gone on deaf ears.

But when NXT has a gigantic treasure trove of talent — Babatunde, Malcolm Bivens and Shotzi Blackheart were visible in the crowd at the start of the show, but did not perform — it really ought to do a better job of caring for its wrestlers.

The latter half of this Thanksgiving week is insanely hectic for everyone. People are traveling on little sleep. Working on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. And trying not to argue with their families along the way.

The least WWE could have done was give its workhorse brand a real victory lap, an episode where they had more storyline building that bumping. So they could wake up on Thanksgiving a little more rested and restored, not even more beat up after a better state of body and mind than they did, and not even more banged up than they were after an amazing - and brutal - Survivor Series weekend.

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