Before SummerSlam last year, back when he was just WWE’s President & Chief Revenue Officer (he’s now co-CEO), Nick Khan said in an interview the company was moving away from filling its developmental pipeline with wrestlers from the independent scene. They wanted to “look elsewhere for great young talent.”
Subsequent reports claimed WWE wanted to teach people with “the right look” how to wrestle their way. The NXT 2.0 rebrand and launch of their NIL program for college athletes supported that idea for the most part.
Khan isn’t the only one with a new title now, though. While he was believed to be one of the architects of WWE’s revised recruitment plan, Vince McMahon & John Laurinaitis were also proponents — and now they’re both gone. Triple H & Shawn Michaels, the men who ran NXT before Vince got more involved, now have more power than ever. And it sounds like WWE is officially scouting indie wrestlers again (not that they ever stopped completely, but they were certainly de-emphasized publicly).
Michaels, recently promoted to Senior Vice President of Talent Development Creative, told My San Antonio:
“We are still reaching out to other people with experience that have wrestled on the independent scene or been out in Japan or in other companies. That is something NXT will continue to do in the future. Nothing is off the table. We simply want to continue to find people that are just as passionate about the WWE product as we are.”
It makes sense. As has been remarked by many since Khan’s quote first hit, even if they’re not going to get a huge television push, you need trained wrestlers on hand to so you can train & evaluate raw recruits. And with Triple H’s global vision in play once again too, WWE could seen need more talent than ever before.
That’s not the only change Michaels talked about in the interview. HBK reiterated how sudden last summer’s makeover was, and how proud he is of the men & women on the NXT roster who made it work. He also compared working for the old regime to collaborating with his best friend:
“I will say that Hunter trusts me quite a bit and I have sort of a great deal of freedom to do what I think is the best thing for NXT and our talent here. But, I can’t speak ill of Vince or any of the other people. They have all been good to me over the years, and I always tried to give them everything I can. So, that isn’t going to change.
“But, Hunter and I’s thought process is certainly more in line, so I don’t find myself having to ask him a lot of questions or if this or that is OK to do, or what do you think of this? He has given me a great deal of freedom down here, which I appreciate. But, the good thing is we are best friends, and we are going to talk all the time. But, nine times out of 10 we are on the same page, so I think that makes it easier for everyone involved and it certainly is a more streamlined process. I think everyone is encouraged by that and there is a great deal of excitement from a talent standpoint as well.”
How are you feeling about the future of NXT, and WWE’s Developmental program?