WWE NXT, also simply called NXT, is a professional wrestling television program that is produced by WWE and is broadcast on the USA Network in the United States.

NXT initially debuted in 2010 as a seasonal show which was presented as a hybrid between WWE's scripted live event shows and reality television, in which talent from WWE's developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) participated in a competition to become WWE's next "breakout star", with the help of mentors from WWE's Raw and SmackDown brands. Five seasons of this iteration were broadcast, with Wade Barrett, Kaval, Kaitlyn, and Johnny Curtis being announced as winners.

In June 2012, WWE ended the seasonal competition format and opted to revamp the show. WWE NXT became the flagship television show of the NXT brand, and has since received a positive reception and high viewership, with praise for its high quality of wrestling and captivating storylines. Many consider NXT to be superior to WWE's flagship shows.

The initial version of the show made its debut on Syfy on February 23, 2010, replacing ECW, but was replaced by SmackDown in October. It then aired as an hourly webcast on WWE.com on the United States until June 13, 2012, before it was expanded to international markets on the WWE Network in 2014. In 2019, NXT expanded into a live two-hour program on the USA Network.

NXT Competition

Formation

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On February 2, 2010, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon announced that a new weekly program would replace the canceled ECW in its time slot on Syfy. McMahon described the show as "the next evolution of WWE; the next evolution of television history".

On the February 4 episode of WWE Superstars, the new show's name was announced as NXT. The name was later discovered to be trademarked already in the United Kingdom by National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) affiliate Scottish Wrestling Alliance (SWA) which also used "NXT" as their brand for upcoming stars. Both parties ultimately reached an agreement that resulted in SWA releasing the "NXT" trademark in favor of a new one before the show's debut.

The show's format was revealed in an article by Variety on February 16, with a press release from WWE made shortly later that day. NXT is the second reality-based series produced by WWE, the first being Tough Enough which aired between 2001 and 2004. Due to WWE's nature of airing weekly shows without hiatus, the plan for NXT was to split the year's set of episodes into multiple seasons.

Original format (2010–2012)

NXT was formed in 2010 when they paired up wrestlers from WWE's developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (dubbed "Rookies") with wrestlers from WWE's existing Raw and SmackDown brands (dubbed "Pros"). Each episode featured the rookies being mentored by the pros as they develop their characters and performance skills in front of a live audience. The pairings also enabled the show to crossover into WWE's Raw and SmackDown programs. As the length of each season differed, features of the competition occur at different times accordingly. In addition to matches, weekly challenges were held during the competition to further test the Rookies' physical and mental skills.

Past physical challenges include a keg carrying contest, an assault course contest and a "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em" tournament. Past non-physical challenges include making 30-second promos on a given topic and selling programs within a time limit.

During the first two seasons, the winner of the weekly challenge receives a special prize such as a main event match, a talk show segment or a feature on WWE's official website. One of the more frequent prizes given out to the winner is an "Immunity Pass", which gives the holder immunity from elimination in the next round of polls. During the last three seasons a greater emphasis on challenges was placed on the show. Instead of awarding prizes to the winner of the challenges, points are instead awarded to the winner with a cumulative tally of points recorded before each of the first three polls. The Rookie with the most points before the next upcoming poll is awarded immunity. In season three, one point is awarded for winning the challenge.

In March 2010, WWE announced that their show SmackDown would move to Syfy in October, with NXT leaving the network at the same time. The show aired its final episode on Syfy on September 28. Shortly after their March announcement, WWE also stated their intent of looking for another channel to broadcast the show. Despite their initial comments, WWE began to air the show as a webcast on their official website for American visitors as of October 2010.

In season four, the number of points vary on the difficulty of the challenge. In the result of a tie-break, the audience is then asked to vote for the Rookie they want to get immunity. Season four also saw the introduction of challenge matches involving the entire roster of Pros or Rookies where the winner would be given the chance to swap their respective Rookie or Pro for another. In various weeks, polls were held to evaluate the success of each Rookie and determine the winner of the competition. The poll rankings are entirely determined by votes from the Pros and starting from season 2, votes from fans via WWE's official website. In the Pros' votes, each of the Pros vote for their favorite Rookie, but cannot vote for their own Rookie. Their votes are based on the following four criteria:

  • Win-loss record within the show
  • Strength of opponents
  • Work ethic
  • "It" factor

Initially, in the first two seasons the full results and rankings from the poll were revealed. However, since August 17, 2010 only the elimination is revealed. The first poll, usually held a third of the way through the competition, determines the Rookies' rankings. Subsequent polls are held several weeks later near the end of the season, where the lowest ranked Rookie without immunity is eliminated. Season 2 was set to use this format, but was changed to have the first poll an elimination poll. Season three also used the second season's format. The show continued until the season finale, where the final two or three Rookies appear. One or two final polls were then held to determine the winner of the competition. The prize for the winner is a WWE contract as well as a championship match at any pay-per-view event. Outside of the polls, Rookies could still be eliminated via an executive decision from WWE management, as the first season saw both Daniel Bryan and Michael Tarver eliminated by management for a lack of self-confidence.

Starting in 2012, the all-rookie competition was abandoned with the show now featuring past and present rookies alongside lower card members of the main WWE roster. William Regal would also take over as the authority figure and match coordinator, with Matt Striker being retained as the show's host. On May 30, 2017, it was revealed that a sixth season of NXT under its original format was set to air. The season was supposed to star Big E Langston, Seth Rollins, Damien Sandow, Hunico, Bo Dallas and Adam Rose as the season's rookies, but ultimately was cancelled before airing.

Season 1 Rookies / Pros

The Rookies from Season 1 debuted on WWE Raw and The Nexus

Season 2 Rookies / Pros

Season 3 Rookies / Pros

Season 4 Rookies / Pros

Season 5 Rookies / Pros

Revised format (2012–present)

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In May 2012, the show's format was revamped. The show began using more talent from FCW as well as talent from the main roster. The first four episodes under the new format were taped at Full Sail University on May 17. Starting with NXT Arrival in February 2014, NXT occasionally aired live episodes on the WWE Network, which effectively serve as the NXT equivalent of main roster pay-per-view shows. WWE continued to air NXT Redemption, hoping a new television deal could be made. WWE.com revealed on June 13 that the new version of NXT would be made available online via WWE.com and YouTube beginning on Wednesday, June 20, when WWE would begin airing the episodes they taped at Full Sail on May 17. However, WWE removed all of the NXT material from their website on June 19. NXT was then aired exclusively on Hulu and Hulu Plus in the United States while continuing to be broadcast internationally. NXT began airing on the WWE Network on February 27, 2014, with a live event called NXT Arrival.

NXT returned to cable on December 20, 2017, airing a 1-hour special on USA Network.

In August 2019, WWE announced that NXT would permanently move to USA Network and be revamped as a live, two-hour program on Wednesday nights beginning September 18, with replays available the following day on WWE Network. Due to scheduling overlap with the final episodes of Suits, the second hour of the program was aired on WWE Network until October 2, when it began airing in its entirety on USA. This would start the Wednesday Night Wars.

Beginning with the March 11, 2020, episode of NXT, WWE began filming all of its programs without an audience at Full Sail University as a result of restrictions imposed to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for initiating the COVID-19 pandemic and from the October 4, 2020, all shows of NXT, including TakeOver specials, have been broadcast live from the WWE Performance Center, which was modified and is now known as Capitol Wrestling Center with a capacity of nearly 100 members of audience and few people appearing for the show through the virtual screen similar to the WWE Thunderdome.

Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic

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The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is an annual tag team tournament featured on NXT. The tournament is named in honor of WWE Hall of Fame wrestler Dusty Rhodes, who passed away in 2015. The tournament has been compared to and (at least partially) inspired by the Crockett Cup tournaments of the 1980s that were promoted by Jim Crockett Promotions (which would later become more widely known as World Championship Wrestling). Rhodes himself had been both the behind the scenes creator of and a featured performer in those tournaments. The winners of the tournament receive a trophy that is modeled in part after Rhodes' signature "cowboy" style wrestling boots.

The 16-team single elimination tournament was established in August 2015 as a tribute to Rhodes - who had been serving as a senior producer and trainer in NXT - and was formally announced during NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, which took place shortly after he had died. That year's Classic featured tournament matches taking place all through September both on NXT's weekly TV show and at NXT house shows, and would culminate in October at NXT TakeOver: Respect, with the team of Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe winning, having defeated [[Baron Corbin] and Rhyno in the finals.

The second Classic will take place throughout the fall of 2016, eventually culminating in November at NXT TakeOver: Toronto.

Winners

Images

The NXT Arena is located at Full Sail University in Florida and is a for-profit university in Winter Park, Florida. The school was founded in 1979 in Dayton, Ohio as Full Sail Recording Workshop.

NXT Results

2010 -- 2011 -- 2012 -- 2013 -- 2014 -- 2015 -- 2016 -- 2017 -- 2018 -- 2019 -- 2020 - 2021

See Also

WWE -- NXT TakeOver / WWE Network Specials -- NXT Results -- WWE NXT UK -- WWE Development Territories

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