From the title alone, you might be thinking to yourself “Who cares? It’s NXT UK.” That, in and of itself, is exactly why this topic should be discussed.
In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t seem like a lot of people really care about NXT UK. I get it, too. There are far too many hours of wrestling programming each week, so you have to be selective with what you prioritize and certain shows like NXT UK, 205 Live, Main Event, AEW Dark and Elevation just fall short of the big 4 (Raw, NXT, SmackDown and Dynamite).
There isn’t much enthusiasm for NXT UK in comparison to the American side of things—at least, not from the perspective of being a fan within the United States—but that’s also a bias. I’m sure there’s more support for this over in the UK itself, but even then, I know people from across the pond who equally do not care.
This isn’t a post to rag on the brand. Rather, it’s one to call attention to this and ask for steps to be taken to change it. I feel like this week saw two big blows to the NXT UK brand that, if not fixed soon enough, will irreparably damage the entity going forward.
This is WrestleMania Week—the most important week of the year for WWE. While not every show has been up to par of “the best ever” by any means, with a weak go-home episode of Monday Night Raw and such, WWE has tried to at least make it seem like everything is special on paper, even if there is a level of transparency where you can see right through the title and realize it’s nothing grandiose.
One example of that is NXT UK: Prelude. At first, WWE announced it as a special edition. The name itself stood out to me as odd. It doesn’t come off as a pay-per-view or anything of the sort. If anything, it sounds like it should be a lead-in recap program that fills you in on what you need to know from last week’s episode so you can play catch-up.
To be perfectly honest, I wrote that off as “maybe I’m just ignorant of ‘prelude’ being used in a different context in the UK and this will be like a miniature TakeOver event.” Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
It was announced the NXT UK Championship would be on the line as Rampage Brown would have a shot against WALTER. Again, I thought that maybe this was a good sign. Unfortunately, the other two matches booked were a No. 1 contender’s match for the Heritage Cup and a tag team match, which made me say to myself “Uh oh. This is a regular episode of TV, isn’t it?”
Still, I was ready to try to treat it like a bigger show all the way up until it aired.
If you checked WWE.com, you wouldn’t see this at all on the news page. Much like how Main Event just isn’t on the shows page at all, meaning WWE cares so little about it that it would rather act like it doesn’t exist than to let fans know when to tune in. That was yet another bad sign.
The episode was uploaded a few minutes past the 3 p.m. normal time, which seems to be a problem with Peacock, as that happened last week, too. Another sign of “Whatever, it doesn’t really matter.”
So you know what a fan like myself does? I skipped to the end of every match, saw the results, posted it here for everyone to know and then, after that, I went back and watched it so I would have the proper context for future analysis articles and podcasts. If I weren’t someone dedicated to giving myself the right foundation for my analysis, I wouldn’t have bothered and I would have just checked to see if WALTER dropped the belt, then moved on with the rest of my day. I’m sure plenty other people, if they even bothered to click on Peacock at all, rather than just check out a results page on this site or elsewhere, just wanted to know if the title changed hands and that’s it.
That’s not good.
Part of the problem is, as said above, that there is just too much during the week and it’s a low priority show. But another problem is that WWE treats it like a low priority show, so fans are more willing to accept that viewpoint and roll with it.
The easiest way to make fans crap on something in WWE is for WWE itself to let the fans know nobody cares, so they shouldn’t, either.
And for the record, it’s not as though nobody in WWE cares about NXT UK. If that were the case, it wouldn’t exist. It’s just that so few people do care and that it’s so low on the totem pole that in comparison, everyone watching knows that if that brand had to disappear at this very moment, few people within the company (relatively speaking) would lose sleep over it and WWE would just move along.
Thus, the NXT UK contribution of WrestleMania Week 2021 was a regular episode of TV that was eclipsed by WALTER defending the title on the special edition of the USA NXT television show.
But that’s not the last hit they took.
It’s been reported by PW Insider that Backlash will take place June 20, 2021. This was previously the third date scheduled for NXT UK TakeOver: Dublin.
Originally, the Dublin show was set for April 26, 2020. Naturally, the pandemic kicked in and forced that to be rescheduled. It was pushed back to October 25, 2020 when everyone thought this would be long gone and dealt with. Of course, that wasn’t the case.
Closer to October, it was moved once more to June 20, 2021. Surely, that has to be the end of COVID-19, right? Well, it’s not looking like that’s going to be the case, either, and WWE has decided to go with another ThunderDome show and put Backlash in that spot.
This means NXT UK hasn’t had a TakeOver since Blackpool II in January 2020, spent months without a television show and can’t even get something special for WrestleMania Week.
At this point, I think WWE needs to do something to reinvigorate the brand. I don’t know how they can truly save it, but I know one way to at least make it seem slightly better is to dedicate a special event slot to it at some point in 2021.
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