It is past time for another Worlds Collide event with NXT 2.0 and NXT UK going to battle. Last night’s Heatwave and the current state of NXT UK as a whole proved to me that not only should this event is the logical next step, it might also be the end of NXT UK as a whole.
What is Going on Right Now?
We’ve seen some crossover between NXT UK and NXT (as well as the main roster’s Raw and SmackDown) over the years, but not a ton. Yes, the current intercontinental champion Gunther got his start in NXT UK, and folks like Rhea Ripley, Butch and Doudrop made their names there, but for the brand existing since January 2017, the guest appearances and roster trades were relatively few and far between.
However, lately, that has amped up considerably.
Out of nowhere a few months back, NXT Superstars popped up on NXT UK as part of a random vacation of sorts. We saw Ivy Nile fight Meiko Satomura for the NXT UK Women’s Championship, Damon Kemp and Von Wagner picking fights with people and so on. Chase University even had a field trip.
Meanwhile, the number of NXT UK talent making the move to Florida to be part of NXT proper has increased more than ever, too. Grizzled Young Veterans are now The Dyad of Schism and barely recognizable as their former selves, even being renamed Rip Fowler and Jagger Reid. Nathan Frazer, A-Kid (now Axiom), Pretty Deadly (also renamed Elton Prince and Kit Wilson), JD McDonagh (formerly Jordan Devlin) and Alba Fyre (formerly Kay Lee Ray) have made NXT their homes, moving on from the UK.
Last night at Heatwave, Gallus and Blair Davenport also made the jump. We don’t know how long they will be part of the 2.0 brand, but considering they are gunning for gold, that should dictate they are hoping to stay quite a while, if not indefinitely.
So what gives? Why has there been so much crossover? Is it just to keep things fresh and play around with new toys? Could it be a strategy to get NXT fans to watch NXT UK and vice versa?
I can’t help but to think it is a slow process toward the dissolution of NXT UK as a whole, actually.
The Status of NXT UK
Dave Meltzer recently spoke about uneasiness among the NXT UK roster about the brand’s future. This is primarily because the next set of tapings was cancelled and nothing has been clarified about when or where more episodes will be filmed.
BT Sport Studios has been the home of NXT UK since its return from the pandemic, but that space had to be used for soccer coverage. WWE could tape some episodes at the Capitol Wrestling Center and allow talent to work at the WWE Performance Center, but the sheer lack of that announcement is interesting.
The clock is ticking. We’re running out of pre-taped material to air, especially with the brand in shambles.
During the last set of tapings, Ilja Dragunov was forced to relinquish the NXT UK Championship due to injury. A tournament happened and Tyler Bate won the vacated title. That match hasn’t aired yet, but WWE didn’t bother to hide from spoilers, showing him with the title on Heatwave.
The NXT UK tag team titles are on NXT guys, Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen, after Oliver Carter and Ashton Smith had to vacate from Smith’s injury. The NXT UK Heritage Cup went from Noam Dar to Mark Coffey back to Noam Dar.
The NXT UK Women’s Championship likely would have gone to Blair Davenport a few months back, but she was injured in a match against Meiko Satomura. It seemed WWE just kept the title on Satomura with no sound plans, feeding her random opponents, while waiting for Davenport to recover. Now that that’s an option to put the belt on her, they’ve taken a detour with some others vying for the belt, while Davenport says she’s going for Mandy Rose’s title.
Less and less people on the NXT UK roster are making a big enough splash. Check any discussion platform and you aren’t hearing much chatter about Aoife Valkyrie, Teoman, Eddie Dennis, Eliza Alexander or any number of stars. Out of the 40+ wrestlers on the roster, maybe 10 of them are known beyond that show, and only really to the NXT audience. Not even the main roster casual audience knows much about Trent Seven. If and when Jinny pops up on SmackDown to coincide with her boyfriend, Gunther, she’ll be renamed and at most, Michael Cole and Pat McAfee will casually mention she’s been in NXT UK in the past before moving on and treating her like a whole new entity with a fresh start.
The truth of the matter is that very few people, in the grand scheme of things, watch NXT UK. Between you readers here at eWrestlingNews, my audience over at Smark Out Moment and the metrics I’ve gathered writing at Bleacher Report and The Ring Report, I can confirm the interest just isn’t there. NXT UK material gets relatively no clicks compared even to NXT, which still pales in comparison to Raw and SmackDown by several levels of magnitude.
The only shows that perform worse than NXT UK are NXT Level Up and WWE Main Event. Those basically don’t even exist to most people—including my fellow writers, on most sites!
Maybe, in a time of budget cuts and cost-saving, we could be looking at the descent into destruction for the NXT UK brand as a whole.
It all has to be leading somewhere, right? Wouldn’t it be disappointing if this is just another equivalent of the random “talent exchange” ideas WWE has done in the past, where it just abruptly ends out of nowhere in the future and reverts back to normal with no lasting repercussions whatsoever?
It’s been a few years since we’ve seen a Worlds Collide event. Currently, there are no officially announced special episodes of NXT or premium live events scheduled. We can assume Halloween Havoc will take place either October 25 or November 1 and War Games will go down sometime in November, but isn’t it a bit strange NXT UK has no presence during this promotion for Clash at the Castle in Wales, particularly after NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff never went down like it was intended?
The way I see it, Satomura is either dropping her title to Davenport or Emilia McKenzie, who hasn’t shown anything to prove she’s ready for that. Davenport makes more sense, and since she’s targeting the NXT title, too, doesn’t it make sense for a champion versus champion scenario?