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Quarterly NXT releases could become the norm

Ten people were let go from WWE’s NXT brand and developmental program last Friday (April 29) in the company’s latest round of budget cuts.

A few of the names — Malcolm Bivens, Dakota Kai, Dexter Lumis — made sense given the focus on younger talent WWE can train from the ground up. Bivens & Kai were even said to have seen the writing on the wall and told the company they wouldn’t stay past the end of their contracts. But the bulk were under 30 years old and didn’t have a lot (if any) independent wrestling experience on their resume. In other words, they were exactly the kind of people the 2.0 reboot and retooled star making system was said to be prioritizing.

So what happened? In one case, we heard the Performance Center staff didn’t feel one wrestler was progressing fast enough. Based on what Dave Meltzer shared on the latest Sunday Night’s Main Event podcast, it sounds like that kind of evaluation could be happening more and more often from here on out:

“I think we are going to be seeing more and more of this when it comes to NXT is people they are just gonna make decisions that they are bringing a lot of new people in. If you don’t make progress there, they are gonna get rid of you, in most cases.

“There were a few cases where that wasn’t the case. That’s what it was and even talking to people who were down there and were around there were kind of like ‘Well, they weren’t making the progress [that was] hoped for,’ and they have all these tryouts and they bring in a whole new group of people and there’s gonna be 90-day cycles where they bring in new people and other people are gone.”

This fits with what company officials have said publicly. WWE’s been holding tryouts before big stadium shows, and signing a few folks at each one. They also have their NIL program up and running for college athletes, funneling even more people into the system. It doesn’t sound like they’re going to have a long runway before they have to prove they can be a star. They’re confident in their ability to not only provide training, but evaluate whether that training is making a difference. WWE also believes that if they miss on someone and they end up becoming a star elsewhere, they’ll be in a position to lure than back.

It’s a pretty cold, bottom line-driven strategy, but that’s not something anybody in the 21st century working world is unfamiliar with.

Is it a good formula for creating new sports entertainers? We’ll find out in the years to come. It’s not like they were creating new stars hand over fist before.

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