NXT wants to get younger and more developmental. Who will benefit from this on the roster?
The latest batch of releases from NXT caught many by surprise. Big names like Bronson Reed and Bobby Fish were let go, alongside a slew of talented NXT wrestlers. It left many scratching their head, but reports of what the thought process was have come forward.
According to Dave Meltzer (h/t f4wonline) the plan is for NXT to go back to being a true developmental brand. “The feeling is that they lost the war (with AEW) and are getting back to it (younger and bigger).” Meltzer continued, saying: “The wording is ‘no more midgets, no one starting in their 30s and people who can be box office attractions and main characters’”
NXT in recent years has become a form of super-indie, bringing in talented independent wrestlers regardless of size or age. Many of the top stars are older or undersized in the traditional sense. If this is the new direction for NXT, who on the roster is set to benefit? Here are three younger stars who may be primed for a bigger role.
Already a featured player in NXT, Grimes could be a building block for the brand’s new direction. While not the biggest at 6’0” and 220 lbs, where Grimes shines is the ability to be a character. If WWE truly wants wrestlers who are young and have the ability to draw, Cameron Grimes is someone they could rely on.
Grimes is young at only 27 and is a great talent inside the ring. The way he’s developed his latest backwoods millionaire gimmick has been wildly entertaining. He can play it as a face or a heel and has shown the promo chops that Vince McMahon would want from a main roster star.
It’s strange to say that the current NXT Women’s Champion is going to do even better in this new direction, but Gonzalez will. A home-grown NXT talent, Gonzalez is getting better and better every day. She’s had excellent defenses and is primed for an amazing showdown with friend-turned-foe Dakota Kai.
Gonzalez is a main-event level star in the making. She has great size at six feet and has a presence in the ring that will make her stand out on Raw or SmackDown. Lots of NXT call-ups are lost in the shuffle upon making the main roster, but Gonzalez will get so much opportunity to hone her craft in NXT that she’ll be more than ready.
The wrestler best prepared to be a success based on the new criteria is Austin Theory. He’s young (still only 24 years old) and talented enough to get a spot on Raw only a few months after his NXT debut. Theory must’ve had fans in high places to get a spot on the main roster so quickly. He’s got a great look and carries himself with a star presence.
The main knock on Theory in this case is his size. He’s listed at 6’1”, but sometimes seems smaller than his size. If Vince and the powers that be can get past a perceived lack of size, they’ve got a potential future NXT Champion waiting in the wings. The move back to this style of developmental NXT isn’t a great decision, Theory, Gonzalez, and Grimes may be the benefactors of the move.
Evan Gomes is a freelance sports & pop culture writer. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsEvanGomes, and check out his two podcasts: Crossbody of Work and The Pop Capsule Podcast.
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