With the latest round of WWE releases, we’re once again hearing about how frustrating it can be for performers trying to advocate for themselves within the company’s creative process.
Those critical observations and anecdotes often lead to fans and observers wondering if things would be better with someone other than Vince McMahon running things. It’s an interesting “what if?” exercise, but not one we’re getting a definitive answer to any time soon.
We are, however, starting to get a glimpse into the experiences of talent who’ve worked under one of McMahon’s possible successors.
After wrestling for Ring of Honor, TNA/Impact, and Stardom - as well as several per appearance bookings with WWE, Deonna Purrazzo signed with an NXT contract in 2018. She picked Triple H’s brand over ROH and a chance to work ALL IN, the show that launched AEW. Purrazzo arrived in Orlando with years of experience and an existing connection to the indie wrestling fan base NXT draws from, but in almost two years was never able to rise above the level of enhancement talent.
She was one of the April 15 releases, and since then has been talking about her experience trying to breakout on NXT. The picture Purrazzo painted to Fightful doesn’t that different from the one people like Heath Slater have painted of the life backstage on the “main roster”:
“I just feel like NXT is a culture of you’re grateful for what you get and you don’t ask for more, and I wasn’t grateful for what I got. Because I feel like I worked my ass off to get to NXT. I worked my ass off to prove I belonged there when I got there. I gave so much of myself to promos and having vignettes filmed on my own dime and my own time. [I] thought out character ideas, vignettes for me as a tag team, for vignettes of me, Chelsea [Green], and Rachel [Evers] as a trio, for myself—I just invested a lot of me in different ways that they could use me and use my potential and it did fall on deaf ears. Because when I got opportunities they were given to other people because ‘I wasn’t ready,’ and I didn’t let it slide.
So, I don’t know that all of us that expressed creative unhappiness, if that was the reason we were let go. Because there was a few people who were in that group. But, I definitely feel like that’s frowned upon in NXT. For me I feel like, and maybe it’s just making myself feel better, but that was probably a reason why I was let go. Because I said a month ago, ‘Hey, I’m not happy. If you’re not going to do something with me, let me go. Let me figure this out somewhere else.’”
This is, of course, only one side of the story. But to the extent that Purrazzo’s read on NXT culture is accurate, it sounds like some wrestlers get the same kind of mixed messages - grab the brass ring but don’t rock the boat - under Triple H that they do under Vince.
You can watch Deonna’s entire conversation with Sean Ross Sapp here.