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Friday, December 11, 2015

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NXT Is Key To The Royal Rumble

By @stevesignore

It's about that time! It's the time of year WWE spending in a holiday holding pattern. This usually means episodes of RAW and Smackdown filled with fake Santas and gimmick matches. Maybe an appearance by Foley Claus? Who knows. But this is the time of year where storylines seemingly take a back seat. In reality, the WWE doesn't really get back on track until the Royal Rumble, and what a perfect opportunity for the company to make a statement! I'm talking outside the box. Outside of Vince's comfort zone. Lets live a little! I have an idea! As they say in the business, "lets throw it against the wall and see if it sticks." Actually, that sounds like the Vince Russo mentality, which I don't suggest, but you know what I mean. I'm begging the WWE to pull a page out of it's own book and give the fans a 40-man Rumble. But not just any Rumble, I want this to have a strong presence from the hottest thing going in the company: NXT.

Of course, the diehard fans love the surprise returns. The feeling you had when Booker T and Diesel shocked the WWE Universe, ironically, at the only 40-man Rumble in history. Bubba Ray Dudley's return may have been the only positive highlight in last year's disappointing Rumble. If the rest of the WWE Universe was like me, I'm sure it was expecting the WWE to make it up to the fans after the Batista debacle of 2014 and have Daniel Bryan win it last year. Instead, WWE went the Reigns route, as the majority of fans put their hands to their head and let out a collective sigh. While, I'm sure the WWE already has it's winner pegged for this Rumble (I don't expect Reigns to win it again), there's room for improvement. So, lets throw the traditional script out the window and infuse this Rumble with the future of the WWE.

Chances are most fans that are watching the Rumble have the WWE Network, so you'd expect that they watch NXT on a somewhat regular basis. Breaking Ground is one of the top programs on the Network. NXT sold out the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. This isn't a cookie cutter "promotion," there's legitimate star power here. And yes, while NXT is a breeding ground for the future of the company, it still has performers that have legit star power, maybe even more than some of the guys on the main roster. Could Vince be worried that the WWE fans won't know who these NXT performers are? Does it matter? There's been some forgettable surprise entrants into the Rumble through the years, but he didn't have a problem having them be part of the event. Who can forget the influx of Luchadors during the 1997 Rumble? And if the concern is that the mainstream fans have no clue who these NXT performers are, then run a series of vignettes or video packages in the weeks leading up to the event so fans get to know them. How would that be any different than when the WWE consistently ran vignettes for Vader prior to the 1996 Rumble? He came from a rival organization (WCW). These performers are actually under the WWE umbrella for pete's sake! It might actually hold fans attention more than the same video packages recanting stagnant storylines, over and over and over! I know my DVR fast forward button gets a workout when those make there appearance every twenty minutes during WWE programming.

I'm not asking the WWE to include the entire NXT roster to be part of the event, but I've pinpointed exactly who should be considered as entrants: Samoa Joe, Baron Corbin, Enzo Amore, Finn Balor, Big Cass, Apollo Crews, Mojo Rawley, Sami Zayn, James Storm, Jason Jordan, and Chad Gable. This is where my "throw it against the wall" scenario comes into play. The WWE can see how the crowd reacts to each performer on the big stage. Storylines can be born out of confrontations. Rivalries from NXT reborn. To me, this could be the most productive Rumble ever, in terms of the future of the company. Lets leave out the Fandangos, (although Johnny Curtis the human seems hilarious), the Matadores, Adam Roses, etc. Lets utilitze the BEST this company has to offer from top to bottom.

There's one more piece to this puzzle, and while it seems like it deserves to be under the radar, this NXT/Rumble scenario gives the WWE an excuse to put Corey Graves at the announce table. Graves voice is the voice of today (and tomorrow, for that matter). He is what today's fan wants to hear in the booth. Not cheesy albeit recycled jokes, along with countless references to outdated pop culture.

This is my plea. Give us something different. This blog isn't suggesting calling up all of these NXT stars to stay. It's a plea, to give us a taste. A taste of the future. A glimpse that change is on the horizon. Vince McMahon once said, during a promo directed toward Stone Cold Steve Austin, "adaptation is a key to life, as well as in business." Well Vince, do you believe that?



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