The first step in a new era of WWE kicked off tonight with the debut of NXT on the USA network. This premiere was more than just a change to a new channel, though. With it comes so, so many consequences, both good and bad.
There’s less incentive for fans to want the WWE Network, now that NXT is not live solely on that platform. However, more eyes will be on the product, now that they’re on cable and people can easily stumble across it.
WWE has to bridge the gap between the old and the new audience by presenting a product casuals can get into without losing the die hard fans who are worried too much will change from their beloved show.
This was only the first episode, but already, we can see what direction WWE is heading for how the next phase of NXT will play out, and as far as I’m concerned, these were my big takeaways from the premiere:
Misfires in the Advertisement / Commercial Department
WWE clearly didn’t do a good enough job telling fans about the time split, as I don’t know how many people I had to inform about why it was only one hour instead of two on USA. The more casual people I came across just assumed it was two hours already and wrote it off as that they must have been wrong, not knowing about the second hour on the WWE Network.
To WWE’s credit, I don’t know if saying this 100 more times would have helped clear things up, anyway. There are some people that just don’t pay attention and you could explain something over and over without it clicking. But it’s still a lame thing to have to explain: “Well, NXT is going to be 2 hours on USA, but for the first two weeks, it’s one hour on USA and the second hour on the WWE Network because USA needs two more weeks of the show Suits, so it changes on October 2nd, but it’s still two hours tonight and going forward. You just have to switch to the network for hour #2.” — That’s a mouthful compared to how they’ve been treating it as simple as “NXT moves to USA at 8pm on Wednesday.”
If the numbers aren’t good for the second hour, I bet it’s because of that confusion.
But on another note about advertisements, who in their right mind signed off on allowing an AEW commercial to air on USA at 8:20pm?! Unless Tony Khan payed a TON of money for that, it would have made more sense to have literally any other available advertisement in that slot instead.
You don’t advertise the competition that will give people an alternative to watch at the exact same time on another network! This isn’t rocket science! It isn’t even as if this is WWE advertising Miz and Mrs. on E! while 205 Live is happening on the WWE Network, wherein you can at least argue that they’re turning viewers away from one of their shows for another. There’s no benefit to USA for this AEW commercial other than the money for the slot and zero benefit at all to WWE for having advertised their competitors.
The commercial flow of the show was also weird. Perhaps I’m just used to NXT not having those breaks, or maybe it’s due to the production team itself not mapping things out better, but it didn’t have the feel of Raw/SmackDown, nor NXT—just the typical “as NXT rages on” phrasing, which goes to show some habits never die.
More than a few times tonight, I felt like the commercials were coming at the wrong moment and it came off jarring, and not in a good way. That’s not to say I enjoy how much they forecast a commercial break is coming up soon on Raw and SmackDown, as I detest how often they do things like have people fight on the outside just to set up a commercial and say “as Raw rolls on” and such, but the way they handled this felt off to me.
I hope they get into a better rhythm. Maybe they tried to pack too much in and that threw them off. Perhaps they were all too nervous, or there were some miscommunications backstage. Whatever the case, they should definitely have improved by next week and I’m expecting them to have worked out the kinks by at least the end of October. It will take a little bit of time to adjust, but they can’t keep it like this forever.
Was I the only one who thought the frame rate was off, or the cameras were different? There was something strange about the visual presentation of the show compared to normal.
Raw and SmackDown have always looked different compared to NXT, and NXT UK has its own feel, too, but this had yet another feel, and I couldn’t get used to it yet.
I’m not a fan of the so-called “soap opera effect” from motion control. A crisp image is great, but I’d rather have a 1080p 60hz resolution that looks natural than a 4k 120hz MotionFlow situation. Obviously, that’s just one opinion and there are others who couldn’t disagree with me more, but this felt more like that, and I wasn’t a fan of that.
Like with anything, there will be an adjustment period that I’m sure my eyes and brain will get used to and a month from now, I won’t think anything of it. But I want to know if you agree or disagree with me on this, so leave a comment. If this is how SmackDown is going to look, I’ll be disappointed.
205 Live is Totally Dead Even if WWE Doesn’t Admit It
Nothing has been confirmed, but with Oney Lorcan and Lio Rush competing to become the No. 1 contender for Drew Gulak’s Cruiserweight Championship, I can’t help but to think 205 Live is going to be cancelled.
WWE has remained coy about what is happening with the brand. Not once have they confirmed one way or another if it’s staying on the schedule to follow SmackDown after the move to Friday nights, if it’ll be recorded in advance somewhere and air at another time, or if it’ll be outright taken off the lineup.
Typically, this is because WWE is trained to treat negatives as a positive—or, at least, to pretend and sell it that way to the fans. 205 Live won’t be “cancelled because not enough people are watching it, so we’re bringing those guys onto the other shows.” No. Instead, they’ll just say that wrestlers from the cruiserweight division will now be shown on NXT, NXT UK, Raw and SmackDown and pitch the positives of that, while quietly removing 205 Live from the show list and not drawing attention to it.