By my own admission, I love NXT UK. It’s not a perfect show, but I have a real soft spot for it. Maybe it’s just seeing the UK finally get some love from WWE that does it for me, but I’m a huge fan. The wrestling is brilliant and with that, it has a distinctive feel unlike anything else within WWE.
However, despite the show having a soft spot in my heart, there is still something lacking for the larger WWE audience. In the eyes of the mainstream fan, it is Raw, SmackDown and NXT, with NXT UK way off in the distance. The good news is that Rome wasn’t built in a day—as shown by the original NXT brand, which would take years to find its form. And, all signs so far seem to point to the belief from WWE that NXT UK can still grow. Triple H would state back in 2020 that he, “would like that brand to be a worldwide, world-known brand and grow all of this.” In the meantime though, how can NXT UK be propelled into the eyes of the masses instead of the minority? And what can WWE do to make the show feel like a legitimate fourth brand?
Increase the amount of cross-brand appearances:
So many of the issues surrounding NXT UK’s viewership seem to fall under a lack of promotion on WWE’s side. Whilst the U.S brand finds itself mentioned during a RAW or Smackdown broadcast, NXT UK largely falls into the term out of sight, out of mind. By failing to properly promote their fourth brand, WWE essentially abandons any idea of NXT UK being legitimate can’t miss action. Alongside this, it leaves much of the casual audience in the dark of the existence of the brand.
However, this issue stretches far beyond a failure to promote, with a series of other cross-brand opportunities missed by WWE. Some of the top talents from NXT UK have moved over to the American brand and gone on to do great things, but the vast majority of the roster are sparsely mentioned on the other three brands. You could count the number of main roster appearances from NXT UK talent on one hand, and whilst they have turned up a little more frequently in NXT, more could still be done. In NXT’s early years as a post-game show brand, various main roster talent would make appearances on the show giving it a level of legitimacy. Whilst, this is not as easy with the UK brand just Finn Balor, Drew Gulak and Cesaro have headed across the pond for a match in NXT UK. With COVID restrictions beginning to be lifted perhaps this could start to change? Or, at the very least now is the time to announce NXT Worlds Collide II.
Announce a TakeOver:
On the topic of announcing Worlds Collide II for NXT UK, any TakeOver will do right now. Fans of the show and the performers themselves have been on some journey waiting for the next huge event from the show, with NXT TakeOver Dublin being postponed twice, before being ultimately cancelled.
As a result, NXT UK currently finds itself in limbo without an upcoming TakeOver scheduled. Without a TakeOver, the wrestlers have very little to build towards and without a huge blow-off match scheduled, any feeling of real conclusion to feuds within the brand is lost. The wrestlers very much feel like they are treading water at times, and the announcement of a TakeOver would certainly raise the level of excitement around the brand.
At the time of writing, it has been over sixteen months since their last TakeOver. For context, in that same period of time, NXT has aired nine separate nights of TakeOver events. Admittedly restrictions in the UK have made any possibility of a TakeOver difficult, but not impossible! As those same restrictions are no longer in place, the time is now to announce a new TakeOver.
Take advantage of it airing on the WWE Network:
Pop-quiz! Of WWE’s four brands—Raw, SmackDown, NXT and NXT UK—which is the only one that airs live on the WWE Network? That’s right, NXT UK! Alongside this, Raw and SmackDown have a thirty-day delay before they reach the WWE Network. NXT, meanwhile, is a one-week wait.
The polar opposite of this is NXT UK, which despite being broadcasted in various locations, remains live on the WWE Network with no such delay. This again amounts to poor promotion on WWE’s side. Now admittedly, who am I to question a multi-billion dollar company’s marketing strategy? But, the potential to sell NXT UK airing live on the network as one of its biggest draws is a no-brainer. It is also not a strategy unfamiliar to WWE, with them deploying the exact same technique with NXT before its switch to television.
With the right marketing, the potential to grow NXT UK’s audience is endless. Right now it seems to fall into the eyes of British wrestling fans, or the hardcore WWE fanatic, instead though it could be used as a staple for the high-quality content available on the WWE Network.
Treat the wrestlers as superstars!:
So much of NXT’s success throughout the last few years has been through remembering that second W in WWE stands for wrestling. Where the main roster is sports entertainment, full of superstars, NXT has remained pure to its wrestling ideology. That is not to say that NXT doesn’t sometimes embrace superstar status at times. For example, when featuring in Survivor Series 2019, the wrestlers of NXT were treated like the stars they are. Not only were they on the same level as the two main roster shows, but they would also leave the night as overall victors.
Having said that, why is it that the roster of NXT UK is very much treated as an afterthought? Despite their accomplishments, they’re constantly left in the shadows of the bigger WWE picture. For example, NXT UK Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray’s reign recently hit 600 days. Meanwhile, NXT UK Champion Walter is the longest-reigning champion of the modern era. And yet, these accomplishments go largely unmentioned in the wider WWE circle, leaving them feeling watered-down and unimportant.
This is an issue that goes beyond just championships. For example, whilst NXT may have won at Survivor Series 2019, only WALTER and Toni Storm featured from the UK brand, with the former being the first elimination in the men’s traditional Survivor Series match. Lasting just under three minutes, he hardly got a chance to make an impact. Presentation is key in the WWE, if the UK Champion has only been seen on a main roster PPV as a loser, why would the casual audience follow his work back to NXT UK? Treat the wrestlers as stars, and the audience will follow.