The WWE has put a lot of time into NXT. But despite developing new stars, the company is still going to the past to boost ratings.
Whenever fans grade the current state of World Wrestling Entertainment, there’s always a comparison to the past generations. “It’s never as good as the Attitude Era,” some fans might say. WWE doesn’t have a true rival like it did in the 1990s with World Championship Wrestling. TNA has tried and failed.
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There’s also another group that feels that wrestling was at its best during the 1960s and 1970s – when there was a focus on territorial promotions. Either way you look at it, the WWE is criticized for not being better. What’s interesting is that part of that blame can go towards the WWE officials keeping the promotion stuck in the past.
The WWE continues to bring back older wrestlers in an effort to generate a big buzz. Names like the Undertaker, Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg are established names who the WWE knows will help bring attention to their show. The proof is found in the coverage they receive from major sports sites; not just wrestling news pages like Daily DDT.
However, these are superstars who were able to establish themselves from nothing. They worked their way up the ladder. The WWE has shown some steps towards the next generation. But in the end, it seems like they can’t quite get away from yesteryear’s stars.
True, the company does put a lot of time, money and effort into their own performance center. It has become the kind of training facility the sports-entertainment giant needs to create their future superstars. But not only are they recruiting athletes from other sports, they’ve also started adding veteran wrestlers from outside of the WWE.
That sort of step would make it seem like the company is moving in a different direction. A few years ago, NXT evolved into a brand of its own with superstars who were different from what was the staple of programming. Rather than focus on stars who have been around for the past decade, NXT highlighted talents that were new to some members of the WWE Universe and welcomed by hardcore wrestling fans.
Officials have called up some of the best from NXT in the last few years. Many of them have found championship gold with main event spotlight. Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Finn Balor and Kevin Owens. AJ Styles winning the WWE Championship during his first year was supposed to be a sign of a new era.
And then the Road to WrestleMania started. Styles drops the WWE Championship to John Cena to give him a 16th reign; tying Ric Flair. But the Royal Rumble main event was the biggest indicator that the WWE is still stuck in the past.
Rather than give spots to a lot of the talented young superstars, they gave spots to a lot of part-timers who aren’t likely going to be in the championship picture – i.e. Mark Henry and the Big Show. In addition to that, the 30-man battle royal had a huge focus on Lesnar, Goldberg and the Undertaker.
But that wasn’t the tipping point. Randy Orton would end up winning the match and earning the main event spot at WrestleMania 33. There’s a reason Orton wasn’t on anyone’s radar for winning the whole thing. The Viper doesn’t need the win and there are countless superstars who are more deserving and dependent on the push a Royal Rumble win can provide.
Nothing is 100 percent official when it comes to WrestleMania 33. But the main event focus seems to be shifting back to wrestlers from the past. Despite a strong overall year with the likes of Owens and Styles being the main event champions, one has concerns moving forward.