WWE NXT celebrated it’s 5th birthday this week, we take a look at episode 1, the original eight Superstar wannabes and their career progression to date.
The show originated as a “reality” TV show, replacing WWE’s ECW reincarnation and aired on Tuesday nights in the US. Eight wrestlers from WWE’s developmental territory FCW were each assigned a WWE “Pro” or mentor. It would be the first time Daniel Bryan, Ryback and Wade Barrett would appear on a global scale. The show itself featured a memorable bout between then World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan. Check it out below.
Wade Barrett ending up winning Season 1. All eight were called up to the main roster and given a decent spot in the main event, feuding with John Cena as the rebellious group “Nexus”.
Where are they now?
Originally debuting as the technician with zero personality, the “Yes!” man has since become one of the most over superstars on the roster. DB has picked up numerous titles including the US, Tag and WWE / World Heavyweight Championship. Currently hangs around the main event and is a fan favourite with all demographics.
Wade Barrett / Bad News Barrett
Barrett , now known as Bad News, ended up winning the show. He enjoyed an early push as the leader of the Nexus but since then has dropped to lower-upper mid-card status. He has enjoyed a couple of Intercontinental title reigns and currently holds the second-tier strap.
Skip Sheffield / Ryback
He debuted as the “Cornfed Colossus” Skip Sheffield but was taken off TV following his debut with the Nexus due to injury. He has since transformed to his current persona Ryback and had a main event run with CM Punk back in 2013.
All round jobber, was once a One Man Band, then a Three Man Band, then a One Man Band again. Then part of Slater Gator then back to the One Man Band again. His most memorable appearance on RAW recently was dressed up as Sting to frighten Triple H. His release could come after Wrestlemania this year.
Probably the worst in-ring worker of the original eight, but has managed to make a decent career for himself. He hasn’t appeared in a WWE ring since Wrestlemania 30, but he’s still employed by the company and mostly attends B.A. Star rallies and other corporate functions.
Decent high flyer who for some reason just couldn’t connect with the audience. His 450-splash was vicious, but wasn’t enough to keep him relevant. He spent the last number of months jobbing and appearing on NXT and was released in early 2015.
Didn’t stand out much in the Nexus. He had his best run as part of the Prime Time Players with Titus O’Neal but they broke up in 2013. He suffered an injury and took the best part of the last 6 months off. He returned last week on RAW and reunited with Titus O’Neal. I remain optimistic.
The first of the bunch to bite the bullet. Tarver was released shortly after the Nexus broke up in 2011. He had a menacing look but just didn’t have the “it” factor I guess.
NXT in 2015
NXT is now its own brand. It has replaced FCW as WWE’s developmental zone. It has the benefit of a full-time training facility for up-and-comers and a weekly show on the WWE Network. It’s the hottest brand in the WWE right now, showcasing some of the biggest stars from the independent scenes. It has top class wrestling, great storylines, character development and the best part: no McMahon at the healm.
The road to Wrestlemania rolls on tonight as WWE presents its newest Pay-Per-View event Fastlane from Memphis, Tennessee.
Except in this case it’s not exactly a PPV in the typical sense – WWE are giving it away for free to all new subscribers of the WWE Network. That decision didn’t please WWE’s UK partners Sky, who had originally planned to sell the PPV for £14.95. Sky will be showing the event for “free” on Sky 1 HD, the first time ever a WWE PPV airs live on the channel. Yes folks, you don’t even need Sky Sports.
So let’s break down the card for tonight’s proceedings:
Roman Reigns -V- Daniel Bryan – Winner faces Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania 31
WWE brass pulled out the old reliable Daniel Bryan card for the second year in a row following a fan backlash to the main event plans at Wrestlemania. I’m unsure how this one will go. Reigns has been playing a slight heel role in this one given Bryan’s popularity, but I fear WWE are using Daniel Bryan to put on a great match with Reigns in attempt to put Roman over in the weeks leading to Wrestlemania. If that’s the case, the crowd for Lesnar – Reigns at ‘Mania should be an interesting one. Are they saying “Boo” or “Boo-urns”?
Rusev -V- John Cena – United States Championship You read it correctly – Cena is battling it out for WWE’s least coveted prize. The master of the “5-Knuckle Shuffle” is unlikely to walk away with the gold here. Expect a DQ finish to setup a rematch at Wrestlemania, likely one where Cena’s career is on the line and he conquers the undefeated Bulgarian.
Sting and Triple H meet face to face
Triple H called out the Stinger – and he accepted. Expect some minor physical altercation. We all know what’s coming here, they’ll end up booking their “14 Years in the Making” match at Wrestlemania. I don’t know about you, but when we all heard of Sting’s eventual signing with WWE, the last person I wanted to see him face off against was Triple H. Nevertheless, it is what it is. Will Undertaker -V- Sting be a viable option in 13 months time?
Nikki Bella -V- Paige – Divas Championship
The background to this one has been the Bella twins teasing Paige about her appearance – even going as far as spray tanning her in the middle of the ring. Compare this rubbish to the excellent booking we see for the ladies in NXT – depressing stuff. Nikki has improved enormously in the ring over the last two years and Paige is always good-to-go. I’m predicting Nikki retains with the help of Brie.
Bad News Barrett -V- Dean Ambrose – Intercontinental Championship
Not much meat to this one. Ambrose wants his face on WWE’s wall of champions and Barrett felt he was undeserving of a title shot due to being a lunatic. So Ambrose tied BNB’s hands together with cable-ties and forced him to sign the contract for the match. I just realised how ridiculous this all sounds after typing it. Sigh. Ambrose’s decline in the last 6 months has been painful to watch. Let’s hope tonight begins his road back to the top.
The Usos -V- Cesaro & Tyson Kidd – Tag Team Championship Great to see Tyson on the main card of a PPV. He deserves it after the hard work he’s put into his own character development in NXT. I’m not a fan of what they’re doing with Natalya in all this. They should push Kidd, Cesaro and Nattie as a dominant stable and let their in-ring work do the talking. Hopeful for a title change but the WWE sure do love them some Usos.
Goldust -V- Stardust
The Dust brothers finally separated after weeks of teasing. I’m surprised they didn’t save this for Wrestlemania given the brothers have been rumoured to been lobbying for a match at the Show of Shows for years.
Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan and Ryback vs. The Authority (Seth Rollins, Kane and Big Show) (with Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury)
We’ve more or less seen iterations of this a dozen times over the last few weeks and months. I’m expecting to see the return of Randy Orton here to even up the odds and setup a match at Wrestlemania with Seth Rollins with the Money in the Bank briefcase on the line.
Pre-Show: MizTV featuring Paul Heyman
These two are possibly the two best talkers in the company so it should be an entertaining 10 minutes.
We could potentially see the return of Randy Orton. Could Undertaker pay a visit to “find” Bray Wyatt?
How to Watch
Main show start time: 1am (Ireland & UK), 8pm (eastern US time).
In over 170 countries: Live on the WWE Network. Repeated immediately afterwards and available on demand. WWE Network is available on smartphones, tablets, laptops, Playstation, X-Box, Apple TV, Roku and certain Smart TVs. UK & Ireland: Live on Sky 1 HD (Channel 106)
Pre-show – Live on WWE Network and YouTube 30mins before the show stars. Or you can watch below.