WWE is a company which has been there for decades and decades and during that whole time, it has had to take many many decisions – some have been good, some bad (XFL) and some downright ugly (making fun of Jim Ross’s facial disfigurement, Mae Young, Natalya’s farts, all the abuses towards fat people etc).
But perhaps the greatest decision it ever took was signing a young talented wrestler by the name of Terra Rizing. WCW had just fired the guy, apparently he wasn’t star material and there was no future with him.
Wrestling used to thrive on alpha maleseque heroes and villains. In the early days there were Bruno Sammartino and Harley Race. The late 1970s and 1980s saw the rise of wrestling on the back of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Macho Man Randy Savage, Dusty Rhodes and Rowdy Roddy Piper, ably supported by Ultimate Warrior, Ricky Steamboat, Sting, Ted Dibiase etc.
The late 1980s to the 1990s saw the arrival and immense popularity of Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall or Razor Ramon, Kevin Nash or Diesel, Yokozuna and of course the Undertaker.
All these gentlemen are wrestling greats, legends, icons and immortal in fans’ hearts. They are heroes to so many wrestlers – past, present and future.
But who would have thunk it that amongst all these immortals, the one with the greatest impact would be someone who was fired by WCW and was taken on by WWE purely as a midcard also ran?
WWE gave this guy a new identity – that of a snooty blue blood. He was a decent midcard but a very good actor and an extremely hard and dedicated worker.
It all came crashing down when he impulsively celebrated with two of his friends – Scott Hall and Kevin Nash – before they left for WCW. And because of that he was punished. He was put in humiliating matches, booked to lose over and over again to oldies and no hopers.
The man said nothing and just kept on working and performing well day after day, night after night. Finally, impressed by his work ethic, he was put in as a sidekick to Shawn Micheals in a new heel stable – they called it Degeneration X.
But soon Shawn Michaels had to walk away due to injuries. The man then reformed the stable
The rest as they say is history.
The man is known as HHH. His real name – Paul Levesque.
In an interview, Eric Bischoff once said that the reason WWE defeated WCW in the Monday Night wars was because of HHH and his work as the leader of DX.
HHH with DX, along with Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, The Undertaker and Mrs Foley’s Baby Boy aka Mankind, Cactus Jack and Dude Love ruled the wrestling world and took it to hitherto unreached zenith of popularity.
But, as it happens, due to age and injury, one by one they all left, except him and the Dead Man.
Vince McMahon decided to promote two young wrestlers – but both alpha male types – John Cena and Randy Orton. And for the next 4,5 years he continued with them over and over and over and over to the point that John Cena became the most hated (by adult males) wrestler in the business.
WWE’s fortunes plummeted as more and more people switched over to UFC.
In stepped HHH, whom Vince had made the VP of Talent.
HHH completely revamped the youth training facilities. He took a more holistic view towards talent development. He threw away the alpha male prototype and instead focused on genuine talent.
He created NXT.
The best judge of a training centre is in its graduates.
And over the last 4,5 years, NXT has produced the whose who of wrestling today.
It took nearly hundred years but its only under HHH that there finally came a time when a short, thin, bearded Vegan reached the pinnacle.
That guy is Daniel Bryan, by far the most popular wrestler today, and he is from NXT.
And he is not the only one.
Other graduates of NXT on the main roster – Bray Wyatt, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Alexander Rusev, Dean Ambrose, Wade Barrett, AJ lee, Paige, Luke Harper, Ryback, Eric Rowan, Darren Young, Titus O’Neill, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, Bo Dallas, Summer Rae, Adam Rose, Big E Langston, Xavier Woods, Cameron, Emma, Adam Rose, Fandango, Conor and Victor, Jimmy Uso, Jay Uso.
The result of all these top quality professionals plying their craft – one of the best Wrestlemanias in recent memory.
And then last week saw the debuts of 2 other fantastic NXT grads – Adrian Neville and Kalisto.
The Future is here
The Future is now
The Future is NXT.